I sometimes get asked for a ruling at my local club by players who are holding a match there, and Im happy to oblige when both sides agree to it. It tends to happen fairly infrequently, and usually the circumstances are quite straightforward. Not so, recently, when I was asked to make a ruling at a table I was walking past, and it turned out to be something I hadnt encountered before except in the pages of a TD exam! One of our finest players (a current European gold-medallist, and at present in Lille defending her title from the last WMSG) had doubled her partners double!
I went off to get my law book, commenting that I knew the Laws to be quite draconian about this. Actually that wouldnt have been so if the next player had called over the second double the second double and all subsequent calls would just have been cancelled, and the auction would have proceeded with the offender making a new (legal) call.
Unfortunately, that was not the case here, so the double was cancelled, her partner had to pass for the rest of the auction, Law 23 could have applied (which would have allowed an adjustment if she had gained even inadvertently from her partners enforced pass), lead restrictions applied when they ended up defending and, because the inadmissible double didnt relate to a specific suit, declarer was able to prohibit the offenders partner from leading any one suit at his first turn to lead! The ruling was accepted graciously, as would be expected of players of that calibre.
Less than 24 hours later I was called to a table of a match being played in the first division of the London Superleague the very strong teams league run by international player Nick Sandqvist. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that yet another international had doubled his partners double!
So, great players are no more immune to making silly mistakes than the rest of us, and it seems that double doubles are rather like double-decker buses wait for ever and then two come along one after the other.
This article originally appeared in Brighton Focus in August. The player mentioned in the first ruling was successful in retaining her World Champion title at Lille. The day after the article appeared, the first ruling I was asked to give was one where the last four calls in the auction were Double -- Redouble -- Pass -- Double!
"Ah" I said "I'd better get my lawbook".
"There was an article about this sort of thing in this morning's Brighton Focus" said one of the players, helpfully.
"Yes" I said, "I wrote it!"