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The “Standard BBO Italia” System by Mario Martinelli (4) The Sputnik double

Posted on 15 February 2012

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Mario Martinelli is a Neapolitan excellent player and accredited bridge teacher. He is an expert about systems and he developed the system “Standard BBO Italia”. The last version of it (2012) can be browsed on Vincenzo delle Cave’s BBO Italia website. Mario is also the nephew of Eugenio Chiaradia, the creator of the Neapolitan Club, a system which our magazine is dedicated to. Neapolitan Club will publish a summary of the system developed by Martinelli both in Italian and in English. In todays’ article we publish the second part of chapter about “The Sputnik double”.

 

The Sputnik double

Second part

  

A delicate situation: the double of the 1 overcall.

In the first examples of the previous paragraph, the overcall was always 1♠ and responder had hearts to show. The converse, i.e. 1 overcall and responder’s hand with 4+ spades, deserves a special treatment and for this reason we discuss it separately.

South West North

1♣/ 1 Double

Contrary to what we have seen so far, 1 overcall leaves space to bid the other major at the one-level, as if there was no interference. What does double mean then?

The negative double has to carry a different meaning, or at least a more specific one, than the one discussed before. There is no agreement on how this situation should be treated and there are two equally good ways to solve it, each of which clearly has a positive and a negative aspect. A third and probably best method is discussed in a following chapter (page 16), because it is an artificial treatment.

 

The most common way to handle the 1 overcall

The method used in the most popular natural systems (2/1, Sayc, Sef) has it that after a 1 overcall the negative double shows exactly four spades, while the natural 1♠ bid shows at least five. In this way responder exploits the overcall to distinguish between a four-card spade suit and a longer one. This is clearly a good feature, but as a drawback some hands in which responder does not have four spades nor a heart stop are left without a good bid.

 

South West North

1 1 Double

North: ♠KJ42 962 8754 A10

Double after 1 shows four spades.

 

South West North

1 1 1

North: ♠KJ842 96 8754 A10

1♠ after 1 promises five or more cards and is forcing for one round.

 

South West North

1 1 ?

North: ♠KJ4 962 87543 A10

Sadly here North does not have a good bid. He could decide to double nonetheless, with the obvious lack of spades.

Without specific agreements this is the method to refer to, in that it is the most popular in the world and it does not contradict the rule of the negative double to show the other major, which is an important point. Standard BBO Italia 2012, contrary to the first edition, adopts this method of treating the 1 overcall.

 

Second natural way to handle the 1 overcall

A different method of treating the 1 overcall, fairly popular in Italy, is to bid 1♠ with 4 or more cards, as if there was no overcall. As a consequence, the double loses its original function of showing the unbid major and denies four spades.

 

South West North

1 1 1

North: ♠KJ42 962 8754 A10

1♠ is forcing for one round and does not specify if there are four or more spades, as if West had passed.

 

South West North

1 1 Double

North: ♠K54 764 Q9543 A10

Double denies four spades and solves the problem of this hand, which otherwise lacks a bid. Even when responder has a heart stop, it is better to deny four spades by doubling rather than bid NT.

 

South West North

1 1 Double

North: ♠K54 A52 Q954 J64

If opener has any heart honour which is not the king, South should play NT. Double is thus better than bidding 1NT.

The advantage of this method is apparent, but the drawback is that the 1♠ response does not guarantee five cards. In many competitive auctions, this element can make a big difference both when a 5-3 fit is immediately found and when opener has four spades and can be sure of a nine-card fit.

If someone prefers this method to the previous one, because it has more positive than negative aspects, we suggest to have a look at the artificial method discussed on page 16, which is an improved version of it.

 

The most common treatment of the 1 overcall

Even though the 1 overcall seems harmless, it can generate misunderstandings if one has not thought about the meaning of the negative double, and the meanings of 1 and 1♠ responses, still available after the overcall.

Most commonly, the negative double over 1 shows both four-card majors, while if responder has only one four-card major he bids it naturally. Without specific partnership agreements, we will use this method.

 

South West North

1 1 Double

North: ♠K642 K1096 87 J85

The advantage of this sequence is that even if East raises West’s bid, no 4-4 major fit is lost.

 

South West North

1 1 1

North: ♠K6 K1096 873 J852

1 promises four or more cards and is forcing for one round, as if West did not bid.

 

South West North

1 1 1

North: ♠K6 KQ10643 A73 J8

1 promises four or more cards and is forcing for one round, as if West did not bid.

 

South West North

1 1 1

North: ♠AK42 Q32 A732 J8

1♠ promises four or more cards and is forcing for one round, as if West did not bid.

 

This is the most common method to handle the 1 overcall, and the Standard BBO Italia adopts it. Like the 1 overcall, also the 1 overcall can trigger artificial responses in order to distinguish a five-card from a four-card suit, or in order to put the overcalling hand on lead. In any case we discourage to respond 1 or 1♠ with five cards and use the double to show any four-card major. This method is overrated and suitable only after the 1 overcall, when responder may be interested in one major only, i.e. spades, whereas it does not work after 1 overcall, when both majors are still available.

 

When both majors have been bid

Sometimes a negative double can apply when both majors have been bid by opener and overcaller.

South West North

1 1 Double

1 2 Double

1 2 Double

It is clear that double in these sequences does not show a major: if responder had a fith ewould show it with the bids available to him in his system, while opponent’smajor is clearly out of the way. What does North’s double mean then?

When both majors have been bid, double shows some values in a hand with one or both minors, and not suitable for a natural bid.

 

South West North

1 1 Double

North: ♠942 J6 A963 K1042

North shows some points, and any other bid would not fit his hand.

 

South West North

1 2 Double

North: ♠Q6 K9 A10873 10952

This hand is too weak to bid 3 (forcing) and too good to pass: doubling solves the problem.

 

South West North

1 1 2

North: ♠94 Q6 A96 KQ9872

2♣ shows at least five cards and is forcing. A natural descriptive bid, if available, should be preferred to double.

***

The Standard BBo Italia System by Mario Martinelli. English edition by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club.

February 15, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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