Penality – the unit of measuring doubles Part III by Lucasz Slawinski

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The penality is calculated from the bidding with the acronym: LIAR TSAR

By Ana Roth
On 4 November, 2015 At 10:26

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Penality Part I   Penality Part II 

How to calculate Penality ?

The penality is calculated from the bidding with the acronym: LIAR TSAR 

Each letter represents a factor influencing the penality. You should start from L and go letter by letter, calculating penality by simple addition or subtraction:

L = Level the higher the level – the greater the penality
I = Information the more information – the greater the penality
A = Agreements the more agreements – the smaller the penality
R = Rescue If they are escaping – the penality increases
T = Trapping the more trapping – the greater the penality
S = Superiority If one side is clearly superior to the other in strength…
A = Artificialidad artficiality increases the penality
R for mnemonics purpose only – to make it TSAR and help memorizing

Before we have a closer look at those factors, it should be stressed that:

Memorizing all the details is not necessary !

Nothing more than a superficial overview will give us the “feeling” of penality of doubles – most of the time we won’t be wrong by more than 25%. This will assure us – since bid­ding is a statistical process – a relatively high, although not sensational, degree of effi­ciency.

We are not obliged to make any agreements with partner !

SAND – like assessing the strength of a hand ! – is a subjective matter. And since it, more or less, complies (!) with intuitive understanding of doubles practiced at the table, mutual understanding in the bidding is almost assured by itself.

Recommendations or declarations like all doubles up to 3 are negative” are not taken seriously even by their authors. When it becomes clear that “the situation calls for it” even low-level doubles become different. Distinguishing between only two extreme penalities (0% albo 100%) is simply inadequate, since for all in-between penalities (occurring very often) a lot of guessing would be involved.

L = Level  The higher the bid – the greater the penality

Every Level increases penality by 25% (starting from 0):

1X=0%   2X=25%   3X=50%   4X=75%   5X=100%; Add an additional 50%, if No Trump is doubled !

X = any Suit or NT  SAND doesn’t include doubles at the level of 6 or 7

The double of a 1 of a minor opening has, however, 25% ! Since 1 of a minor is opened with 4 or even 3 cards, it is more vulnerable than 1 of a major (normally showing 5+ cards).

The double of the 1NT opening has, as one can see, 50% – optional

With any balanced hand, even very weak, the doubler’s partner should pass.

If it happens that 1NT is unbeatable, running out to a suit (4-cards long!) threatens even greater loss in a doubled contract.

Additional 50% for no-trump bids is a consequence of the fact that no-trump contracts are generally more vulnerable than the suit ones.

On doubles at the level of 6 and 7

SAND doesn’t include doubles at the level of 6 or 7 – basically they are for penalties: 100% penality. There are, however, two situations where double has a special meaning:

Lead-Directing Lightner DoubleThe double by the opening leader’s partner calls for a lead which, in normal circumstances, would be considered „unusual”. And, in general, all high-level doubles have Lightner flavour.

Sacrifice Suggestion Double:


Situations like this usually call for a very profitable sacrifice in 6 unless… 6 goes down. To solve the dilemma, the following treatment is adopted:

The player first to call (here, South) doubles with 2 tricks and passes with less (0 or 1). His partner sacrifices with 0 tricks, passes with 2 tricks and shows exactly 1 trick by doubling. By analogy, this also applies to grand slams, where tricks are substituted by half-tricks.

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