Ask Jerry: Understand What Responder Should do After…

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Dear Jerry, As a result of a recent disaster it is clear to me that I do not understand what responder should do after the opening bid has been doubled for takeout. I thought with 10 or more points, I have to redouble then bid. Surely there is more to this? Lois

Hi, Lois, A great question!

This is an area of bidding that many players and partnerships do not fully understand. While it is true that in an auction such as 1 -Dbl-Rdbl, the redouble shows 10 or more points, it is equally true that the failure to redouble does not deny 10 or more points!

This may seem a little contradictory, so let’s look at this in more detail. As always, partnership agreements rule! I believe a redouble should announce that we have the balance of power and create a scenario where either we declare or the opponents play a doubled contract. Because of this, a redouble should suggest a balanced type of holding.

Additionally, when you hold “suits to bid,” you had best start bidding your suits at your earliest opportunity despite holding 10 or more points. Consider these two hands after the sequence 1 -Dbl.

1. KJ104 A1072 Q1094 8

2. 5 AQ953 AQ764 107

With the first hand, holding the requisite 10 high-card points, a singleton in partner’s club suit, and four cards in each of the unbid suits, a redouble seems the perfect action. If the opponents scramble to any of your suits, you should be happy to offer double as a possible end to the auction. On the second hand, despite 12 HCP, my preference is 1, showing four or more hearts, 6 or more points, forcing, just like it would be if RHO had passed. Since the opponents rate to have at least eight spades, I would fear the pos-sibilities of getting preempted by the spade suit.

Just imagine the following nightmare auction:

Partner RHO You LHO
1 Dbl Redbl 2*
Pass 3/Pass ?  

*) Weak

Somehow, introducing either of my suits at the three or the four level doesn’t feel very appetizing. Am I supposed to double? (The late Bernie Chazen had a great saying, “Who doubled? The one with the singleton or the void?”) I would have felt much better bidding 1 initially, followed by bidding my diamond suit at my next opportunity. In addition, one of my old favorites, “support with support,” is also a factor in these type auctions.

Consider these four hands after the auction begins 1 -Dbl-?

1. 86 K763 Q8743 96

2. A74 Q763 87  A962

3. K106 A76 874 K962

4. QJ84 76 K874 A96

On the first hand, you have sub-zero defense, but with four-card support, you have reasonable offense. An immediate preemptive jump to 3 should describe this type hand.

On the second hand, despite two black aces (defensive values), your four-card support for partner’s five-card or longer suit clearly makes your hand better for offense, i.e., declaring a heart contract rather than defending. You should use the convention called Jordan 2NT, where responder jumps to 2NT to describe four-card or longer support with at least limit-raise values.

On the third, start with a redouble, which tends to deny support for open-er’s suit, then follow by raising hearts to the lowest available level showing 10 or 11 points with exactly three-card support.

With the fourth hand, redouble, and then judge what’s best to do when the auction returns to you.

The bottom line is that you should prefer to redouble with defensive values, but bid with offensive playing strength values. To fully appreciate these partnership decisions, opener needs to understand his role after a re-double or a simple suit response. Since this sermon is already a little long, we’ll revisit this subject from opener’s point of view in a future article.

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