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(prehistoric animal of noble extract who, when provoked, feigns to run away, then turns against his aggressor; he has developed this technique to combat his traditional enemies, the Cappellettians)

by Bernard Marcoux, Sainte-Adèle






One school of thought tells to double 1NT with a hand of equivalent strength, or stronger.  


Practitioners of Cappelletti will then double, penalty, only to hear their partner take it out because they have no points.


Very good question, in my opinion: if Cappelletti is for penalty, why does your partner take it out?  All Cappellettians will answer:


-          Because he has no points.

-          Then the double is not penalty.

-          Yes, it is.

-          So why doesn’t your partner leave it?

-          Because he has no points.

-          So it is not penalty, it is optional.

-          No, it’s penalty.

-          So, I say, a bit irritated, if your partner has 20 points and his RHO opens 1nt, 8-10, 10-12, 11-14, 12-14, 14-16, 15-17, 16-18, whatever, he will double and you will take it out because you have no points????


Discussion with Cappellettians never ends.  So I repeat my question:


- Is Cappelletti for penalty or not?


Like the woman who played Lavinthal in defense, but not always she added (!), Cappelletti, as played by the majority of players, is penalty, but not always.


And if you have:







You won’t double 1NT for penalty?  You are certain to beat 1NT (unless declarer has 6 club tricks and the Ace of hearts), will you pass because you don’t have as many points as the 1NT opener?  Here is a good occasion to repeat that bridge is about tricks, not only points.


You open 1NT 15-17 with:







I know, I know, it is not perfect.  Your LHO, Cappellettian of good family, doubles. 


Your partner passes and RHO, also Cappellettian of good standing, starts to think. 


You thank Heaven, Cappelletti himself and all the saints in paradise.  At bridge, when a player starts to think after a Cappelletti double by his partner, it is always a good sign.  Cappellettian daughter (they really look like mother and daughter) ends up bidding 2, you pass, Cappellettian mother passes and your partner doubles.


You         Cappellettian mother         Partner                 Cappellettian daughter

1NT          double                                  p                             2

P              p                                        double


Cappellettian daughter asks about the double.


-          Cappalligator! You reply.

-          I’m sorry ?


You resist the urge to explain her the noble origins of this extraordinary animal, skipping all the historic part, and go right to the point:


- My partner thinks we will kill you.

- Come again…

- Penalty!


You lead the heart King.  Here is dummy, cause of Cappellettian mother’s double:













Isn’t that a Cappelletti of good extraction?  Would not all Cappellettians double with this hand?


The heart King wins and you continue heart for dummy’s Ace, your partner signaling doubleton.  


Declarer then plays small club to her hand (!), you win the 10 and play Heart and Heart, your partner signalling diamond on the 3rd heart, declarer ruffing the 4th heart. 


Declarer then plays another club, you win the Ace.  You play the diamond Jack for the king and Ace from your partner.  She plays back a diamond.  Dummy wins the Queen.  Declarer continues with the club King, partner ruffs with the spade 9, over ruffed with the Queen!!


Declarer plays diamond, you ruff with the spade Jack, under ruffed by partner, and we have now the famous coup, the Alligator Coup, or Cappaligator.  The Alligator coup is a small cousin of the Crocodile Coup.  This last coup consists of playing a big honour, Ace or King, to overtake partner’s stiff honour, to avoid him being end played.  Cappaligator, which I have invented, consists of ruffing with the Jack, to allow partner to underruff.  Rare, you say ?  Very rare.   Cappalligator is a very, very rare animal.


You play back a spade, your partner takes the rest, +800.


Cappellettian mother





You                                                    Partner

Jx                                                     A109xx

KQJ10                                            xx

J10                                                  A9xx

AQJ10x                                           xx

Cappellettian daughter






Poor Cappellettians!   Cappaligator’s revenge is really terrible, no?

Believe me, if you play Cappelleti penalty, but not always, you will have one day to face the wrath of Cappaligator, and you will repent!