Google BridgeHands

 HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training  Practice   HELP
 You are at:


Notrump Game Doubled - When opponents bid a 3 Notrump game contract or above, partnership doubles have various lead directing possibilities depending on bidding and conventional agreements.

First, let’s review the Lightner Double – typically used when opponents have bid slam based on strength, or our partner has made a preemptive bid. Ted Lightner advocated his double to ask for an unusual lead, never trump or a suit bid by defenders. Ostensibly, partner’s unusual lead provides doubling partner a precious ruff to set the contract. Hopefully, leader can deduce whether the suit is dummy’s first bid suit (when other partner supported the side suit), or perhaps even a non-bid suit. Mike Lawrence’s “Conventions” software program includes a nice sub-chapter on this handy tool. With the Lightner Slam Double as a foundation, we’re ready to explore new lead-directing doubles.

Lead-directing doubles for unobstructed auctions should already be in our repertoire. After opponents' 1 Notrump opener, a double of responder’s 2C Stayman asks for a Club lead. Ditto on responder’s other artificial bids (transfers, cuebids, step responses, etc), asking for a lead in the artificial suit. In a competitive auction, here’s the popular guideline described in Bill Root’s “Modern Bridge Conventions”, requesting the partner of the doubler to make the specific lead in this order of priority:

1. Leader’s bid suit


  1H (1N) 2D (3N)  
  X       Partner should lead Diamond suit


2. Doubler’s bid suit


  1C (1H) P (3D)  
  P (3N) P P  
  X       Lead partner’s Club suit


3. Dummy’s first bid (or shown) real suit


  (1H) P (1S) P No bidding on your side, so
  (1N) P (P) X Lead dummy’s Spade suit

4. If no real suits have been bid, lead weaker major suit

(1N) – P – (3N) – X;     Lead your weak, short major

This treatment is fairly standard, also recited at the ACBL website with the following twist: when no suit has been bid, the double shows a solid suit which can take five tricks if the opening leader can find it. Without a clue, the opening leader will tend to lead a short major suit.

Mike Lawrence’s “ Double! New Meanings For An Old Bid” categorizes this concept as a Lightner Game Double (as opposed to the Lightner Slam Double), recommending this easy to remember reatment: “You- Figure-Out-What-Suit-I-Want Double”. So when the opponents bidding is purely Notrump and #1 through #3 above are not applicable, this treatment gains good utility value over the more limiting request for leader’s weaker major suit. Eddie Kantar expanded on this method in “Defensive Bridge Play” and other works, noting the leader should lead the shortest suit, preferably a major, but definitely a suit that has no honor cards.

Before moving on, let’s clarify one point about #3 – leading dummy’s first bid (or shown) real suit. What’s with the “or shown” wording? Say the auction goes:

  (1N) P (2C) P  
  (2S) P (3N) X  

The suit shown, or more correctly, suit implied by responder/dummy was the Heart suit. Thus, partner’s double asks for the dummy's Heart suit, not the leader's shortest suit nor the dummy's artificial suit (Clubs).

Incidentally, the Fischer Lead Directing Double never caught on with the masses, but since a few cohorts advocate its use, let’s discuss it briefly. When opponents avoid suit bids en-route to 3 Notrump or higher, defenders normally lead a major to defeat the contract. To find the killing lead, the Fisher Doublers advocate the lead of a Club to set the contract, or a Diamond if the belated doubler had an earlier opportunity to double responder’s Stayman bid. While this treatment has some merit, a greater audience enjoys the more flexible leads using the Lightner Game Double.

Finally, here are a few advanced treatments for the fearless, discussed in Eddie Kantar’s "Treasury of Bridge Tips". Caution – these treatments pertain to OVERCALLS when opponents open the bidding!!! They are different from the above scenarios, where your side has opened the bidding:

When you overcall and partner denies support at the 2 level and belatedly doubles opponents’ Notrump contract, lead the dummy’s first bid suit.

  (1C) 1H (1S) P Partner denies support so
  (1N) P (2N) P lead a Spade, dummy's
  (3N) P (P) X first bid suit

However, when it was not feasible for partner to support your suit at the 2 level (Left Hand Opponent bids above your suit at the 2 level) and Right Hand Opponent balances in Notrump, lead your overcall suit.

  (1C) 1H (3C) P Partner cannot show 2 level
  (3N) P (P) X support so lead your suit
          (Hearts).  Partner has useful cards


(When partner bids a major and later doubles 3 Notrump, lead your short unbid minor suit, ergo a lead inhibiting double! Partner has a 2 suited hand, looking to promote an honor sequence in the side suit.


  (1H) 1S (1N) P  
  (2N) P (3N) P  
  (P) X AP   Lead a short minor suit

Here’s the finale – when all four players have bid a suit and partner subsequently doubles their 3 Notrump contract:

1) lead the dummy’s first bid suit if it was at the 1 level,
2) lead partner’s suit if the dummy’s first bid was at the 2 level.
    Memory Aid: Lead dummy's anticipated four card suit

  (1C) 1H (1S) 2D Dummy 1st bid at 1 level so
  (2N) P (3N) P lead Spade, dummy’s 1st suit



  (1H) 1S (2C) 2D Dummy 1st bid at 2 level so
  (2N) P (3N) X lead Diamond, partner's suit

Whew, Eddie’s suggestions for penalty doubles after our overcall do make sense but can easily lead to confusion with our earlier treatments - save them for your long-term partners. For Okbridge subscribers, the October 2000 Spectator newsletter by Marc Smith discussed lead direction in contested Notrump auctions.

HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training Practice Links HELP
Contacts: Sales  Support  Reviews  Q&A    Disclaimer    Privacy    © 2005 BridgeHands   Updated 01/22/11