Every now and then, the opponents are heading towards a 3 No Trump or game contract. One player then realizes that his partner will most likely be on lead, and this player, after viewing his holding, wishes that his partner would lead a certain suit. Only by leading this particular suit could the defenders defeat the contract or at least not allow any additional overtrick. The player thinks that if his partner would only lead that particular suit, then the partnership would have a good chance of achieving a good score.
Bridge theorists and authors have dealt with exactly this problem since the early days of competitive card games, for which there was a declaring and a defending side. Their conclusion was that if an assumed defender or non-competing player realized through visualization that if partner will most likely be on lead, then only the call of a double would be useful in directing partner to the correct suit to lead.
This evolutionary double, once proven through experience, became a cornerstone in the arsenal of the defending side. The bridge theorists expanded the definitions of this particular double in the auction to signify three distinct features and to establish certain priorities.
1. A Lead Directing Double requests the lead of the opening leader's suit. 2. A Lead Directing Double requests the lead of the doubler's bid suit. 3. A Lead Directing Double requests the lead of the first suit bid by Dummy, which becomes invalid if the suit has been rebid.
The player does not have to wait until the partscore or even game contract has been reached before making a Lead Directing Double, as illustrated in the following auction:
North East South West Pass Pass 1 Pass 2 NT Pass Pass Double Pass Pass Pass
North becomes the declarer at 2 No Trump. East is on lead. Normally, the 2 No Trump response by North would be a semi- forcing bid, but do not forget that North passed originally.
Without the lead directing double of his partner West, East would have to use his own judgment in choosing the lead. However, with the lead directing double, East now knows that his partner is asking for a Diamond lead. It is true that a contract of 2 No Trump doubled equals game, but West sees a good chance to set the contract, if and only if West leads a Diamond.
On the other hand, if West passes and the final contract is 2 No Trump, then, by inference, East should realize that leading a Diamond is not in the best interest of West. This inferred information is sometimes quite valuable. The bridge player should keep this inferred information in mind when on lead.
An example follows, where there is no doubt as to the requested lead.
Dealer: South Vulnerable: North-South
North A743 K1062 Q7 1087
West K85 9754 J865 K6
East J6 J8 10943 AQ943
South Q1092 AQ3 AK2 J52
South West North East 1 NT Pass 2 Double 2 Pass 3 Pass 4 Pass Pass Pass
Analyzing the bidding of the opponents the non-competing players realize that South holds between 15-17 high card points (partnership agreement) and that North, the responder, holds a minimum of 8 high card points in order to employ the Stayman conventional method. The conclusion is that West will most likely be on lead. When East doubles, East is asking for a Club lead through his Ace-Queen tenace.
West is on lead against a 4 Spades contract and knows that a Club lead is requested. West must be careful to lead the King in order to unblock the Club suit. West plays the King and continues withe the 6. East wins the second trick with the Queen and plays the Ace of Club. On the fourth trick East leads a small Club. The declarer finds himself in a bind since East and West already have book in the first three tricks.
No Trump Contract
However, if the opponents reach a 3 No Trump contract, as in the following bidding example, then the meaning of the double changes.
South West North East 1 NT Pass 3 NT Double Pass Pass Pass
Since no suit has been bid, then East, with his lead directing double, is showing his partner West, who is on lead, a near solid suit, which could defeat the contract. East will then decide between the two Major suits as his lead. The lead will usually be the shorter Major suit, in which he has no honors.
When the opponents are using Blackwood or cue-bidding first-round controls to reach slam, the lead directing double is very useful. If the response of the opponents is in a suit, in which a defender holds 2 winning tricks and the defender doubles this response, then your partner should realize that partner wishes this suit to be lead. Conversely, if the player does not double, then this inferred information becomes also a valuable tool in choosing which suit to lead. Remember, the choices have been reduced by 25 percent.
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.
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