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March 31, 2001
Dealing with Doubles and Test Your Defensive Play
Dealing with Doubles
We are having troubles when the opponents double our opening bid. Just what are the details of bidding in this situation?
When partner opens the bidding at the one level with 1/1/1/1 and RHO doubles, it is a takeout double. RHO has at least the values of an opening bid but not a clear idea which suit in which to compete. RHO has promised support for each and every unbid suit. Support is generally considered to be three cards or more. If partner opens 1NT and RHO doubles, it is penalty and is not takeout. RHO thinks that 1NT can be defeated. The range in hand types for this bid are fairly broad. A running suit might double. More often than not it is a better than average hand (15 or 16 points at least) with a good anchor suit.
Take responders seat now. Just what are you suppose to do:
Partner opens 1NT and RHO doubles-
RHO thinks she can defeat 1NT. This pretty much rules out any chance for game. If you have a good hand (about 6 to 9 HCP) and think that RHO has misjudged, you should probably pass and let partner play 1NT doubled. If you are really confident (say about 9 HCP or greater) you can redouble, which is to play. Note that you will not get the game bonus unless you redouble. If you pass or redouble, later in the auction, a double by you of any run-out by the opponents is for penalties. Bidding is the weak action. It is better to play in a fit or likely fit than in no trump. All suit bids at the two level are to play. The weaker your hand the more imperative that you bid your five card suit. Some partnerships decide to retain 2 as Stayman. I do not think this is necessary but you can decide for yourself. As responder it is up to you to bid. If you pass partner will think you want to play 1NT doubled.
I would bid 2 with this hand:
But I would pass 1NT doubled with:
Partner opens 1 of a suit and RHO doubles-
Once again your chances of game are greatly reduced. RHO has at least the values of an opening bid and should hold at least three cards in each unbid suit. Most of the time RHO will be shortest in partner's opening bid suit (doubleton, singleton, or void). If partner opened a minor then you should not go out of your way to bid poor four card major suits. They may be breaking poorly and you will need a little extra to survive. Featureless hands of even 6 or 7 points should pass. With a good 7 points or more bid five card major suits at the one level (still forcing) or good quality four card suits. New suits at the two level are NOT FORCING. They are usually a six card suit with about 6-9 points and no fit for openers suit (singleton or void). With hands of 10 points or more you must bid a new suit at the one level (forcing), redouble, or make a jump raise. Redouble promises 10 points or more. It sets up a situation where both you and partner know that this hand belongs to your side (10 in your hand + at least 13 with partner). Later in the auction we will not sell out to the opponents unless it is doubled. A jump raise has the same meaning as without a double (trump support and 11 to 12 points).
I would redouble after 1-Dbl with this hand:
I would bid 1, and after 1-Dbl I would bid 3. The only real changes are the
redouble and the fact that new suits at the two level are no longer forcing. Most of the
time you will have a poor hand and will be passing.
Test Your Defensive Play
How good are you at defensive play? Do you consistently send partner the correct message? Do you play the correct card? On these three hands from a quiz in Issue #37 you are West. The original article contained six problems.
#1 What card do you lead?
#2 Partner leads the A. What card do you play?
#3 What card do you lead?
Answers to Test Your Defensive Play:
#1 - First, if you let the 3NT bid talk you out of leading partner's suit, then shame on you! Partner overcalled to tell you exactly what to lead. If you belong to the school that says always lead your highest card in partner's suit then maybe this hand will convince you differently. If you lead a small heart (2) only then does 3NT go down one trick.
The complete hand:
#2 - The correct play is the Q to signal that you hold the J in case
partner needs to put your hand on lead at trick two. Yes, the 6 would
be an encouraging signal. It also is much more difficult to read. Unless partner gets to
your hand at trick two and you shift to the obvious club, then declarer is going to make 4.
The complete hand:
#3 - The opponents are off two aces. Partner doubled for a heart lead. You should
lead your singleton club as it is the only road to 3 tricks for the defense. Lead the
club, win the A, and lead a heart to partner to get your club ruff. A singleton, extra
trumps, trump control, and partner with an entry.
The complete hand: