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Punishing Partner - When both partners are passed hand and the opposition signs off in 1 Notrump or a 2 level contract, competing at the 3 level is asking for trouble.  Thus, even though partner may make a competitive balancing bid in passout seat (borrowing points from partner), the partnership should not continue bidding at the 3 level. Of course, competitive bidding at the 2 level is often a sound tactical action that may deposition opponent's into an undesirable auction.  But bidding at the 3 level almost always produces a poor result, frequently doubled by the opposition.  Example:

  W N E S
        P
  (1C) P (1H) P
  (1N) P (P) 2D
  (P) P (2H) P
  (P) 3D (X)  

South's 2D is competitive, possibly holding very weak values, hoping to push the opposition into a higher contract than attainable.  However, if partner North erroneously persists on to 3D even though both partners are both passed hands, an opponent is likely to double for penalty.  North's overbid is called "punishing partner", making South sorry they didn't simply pass since North is not cooperating as a partner.  Don't forget that partner South in the balancing/passout seat is likely "borrowing a King" from North's hand.  So before North decides they have values sufficient to bid at the 3 level, they should subtract 3 points before considering a 3 level bid.  Of course, if North has a very shapely distributional hand (especially with shortness in the opponents trump suit), perhaps a 3 level bid might work out.  Yet if South might be a "frisky" bidder who balances with marginal values in an attempt to be a good competitive partnership bidder, be forwarded the result of North freely bidding at the 3 level could be very painful, especially when VULNERABLE.  Better to ask yourself this question before bidding at the 3 level than consoling your partner after observing the result:

"Is it worth preventing the opponents from making a 2 level contract at the expense
of possibly getting set 2 or 3 tricks doubled and vulnerable for 500 or 800 points?"
 

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