The origin of this conventional method is unknown. As with the original concept of the Lightner Double, the Mini-Lightner Double can be employed at the four and at the five level in the game of bridge. This is generally the case when the opponents see the strong possibility of a suit contract being declared. The original concept of Mr. Theodore A. Lightner is given below and is presented to clarify the variation for the Mini-Lightner Double:
The premise is: A double by the hand not on lead is conventional.
The partner on lead is requested to choose an unusual lead which may result in the defeat of the contract. Note that it is not always possible to defeat the contract and any lead by the partner will not always defeat the contract. The concept is that an unusual lead may defeat the contract.
1. A Lightner Double excludes the lead of a trump. 2. A Lightner Double excludes any suit bid by the defenders. 3. A Lightner Double may exclude any suit not yet bid, but this is conditional. 4. It is also conditional that the defender, who uses the Lightner Double, to expect to ruff the lead of a side suit mentioned by the opponents, or otherwise to win the first two top tricks in that suit.
The same premise is true regarding the Mini-Lightner Double. The following deal is from a Grand National Team Match played in New York.
Dealer: North Vulnerable: East-West
AK93 A AKQ53 J108
108 QJ10 1098742 K2
J7652 64 AQ9763
Q4 K987652 J6 54
North East South West 1 3 Pass Pass 3 Pass 3 Pass 3 Pass 4 Pass Pass Double Pass Pass Pass
After the artificial and possibly strong 1 opening by North, East attempted a preemptive overcall based on Losing Trick Count of 3 despite the state of vulnerability, but the 3 overcall was two-fold. The bid was both preemptive and lead-directing. As the cards lie, had North-South left a penalty double in, North-South could have collected 500 points for a more than favorable score.
However, after establishing the final contract, East decides that his partner, West, who is on lead, should not lead Clubs, but rather an unexpected suit. Since East can trump a Diamond lead owing to his void, East wants to prevent / discourage his partner from leading a Club. In order to accomplish this switch, East's double, a Mini-Lightner Double, informs West not to lead Clubs.
These particular doubles are generally and/or always based on a void, usually located in the original suit bid by the established dummy.
Since the first suit of the dummy had been Clubs and East, who showed no desire for a Club lead after the double, then West had to confidently assume that the first lead should / must be Diamonds. There is no question that a trump lead was neither called for nor requested.
West, also according to their partnership agreement regarding defensive signals, leads the 2, requesting a Club return. East, as expected by West, trumps the lead, returns the 3, which West wins with King and who returns 4, which is no longer a suit preference signal. After three tricks for the defense, the declarer realizes that he also loses one trick to the Ace and a trump trick for down two.
In comparison, other pairs at other tables did not interfere in the auction and there was a passive trump lead by West. South, the declarer, was able to fulfill the contract and, after leading two rounds of trump, discard his two losing Club tricks on Diamonds, taking 12 tricks.
If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.