Susanna Gross

Bridge | 21 January 2023

How often do you reach for the double card? Perhaps you’re a bit of a wimp like me. I’ve lost count of the times my inner voice has urged: ‘Double, Double!’ – a bit like the witches in Macbeth – only for me to ignore it and meekly pass. It’s pure fear of being wrong: there’s only one thing worse than seeing your opponents’ smug faces when they score up a doubled overtrick or two – and that’s seeing your partner’s face.

But as Zia once said, if every contract you double goes down, you’re not doubling enough. Be brave – even if you’re only doubling on a hunch, or because the opponents seem unsure of their own bidding. During the recent Madeira Islands Festival, the 81-year-old Dutch player Onno Janssens – inventor of Muiderberg Two Bids (showing a 5-card Major and 4+ in a minor) – doubled 3NT on a balanced 7-count. He said afterwards it was the best bid he had made in his 60-year bridge career.

 Janssens, sitting West, had seen South bid all of his suits. He was further emboldened by the amount of time South took to bid 3♣. So when North bid 3NT, he doubled. East led the ◆2 – it was the worst lead for the defence, but the contract still went three down for -500. If Janssens can start doubling like that at the age of 81 – then it’s definitely time for me to stop being such a coward.

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