Wielding the Axe:
The Vanishing Art of the Penalty Double
Augie Boehm

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July 2008
162 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-9728061-9-0

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Social bridge is played primarily for relaxation and entertainment. Tournament bridge may be entertaining but it's anything but relaxing. Tournament players seek stimulation from competition. Witness a regional or national event and you'd typically find a large hotel ballroom filled with hundreds of tables playing in cathedral-like silence. The intensity inside the room is palpable.


Nothing exemplifies this keen competitive spirit better than the penalty double. Anytime a final contract is doubled, the stakes are raised―not just the score but the implied mano a mano challenge.


If you shrink from this challenge, my premise is that it impairs, in a broad sense, your ability to compete. Tournament bridge is not for the faint-of-heart; it requires guts. Once you embrace the challenge of the penalty double, you have climbed a mountain. Overcoming fear is liberating.


When you acquire a feel for opportunistic penalty doubles, you have added a potent weapon to your arsenal. Your courage to double freely and wisely will make you a respected and feared opponent. And if the opponents occasionally make a doubled contract against you, be consoled by what a mentor taught me: if they never make a doubled contract, you arenā“ doubling often enough.


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