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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 1club.gif (841 bytes)/1diamond.gif (837 bytes)/1heart.gif (841 bytes)/1spade.gif (842 bytes) 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 responder’s 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 2club.gif (841 bytes) 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 2club.gif (841 bytes) with this hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)J4
heart.gif (841 bytes)875
diamond.gif (837 bytes)742
club.gif (841 bytes)J9764

But I would pass 1NT doubled with:

spade.gif (842 bytes)K4
heart.gif (841 bytes)875
diamond.gif (837 bytes)742
club.gif (841 bytes)QJ764

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 opener’s 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 1spade.gif (842 bytes)-Dbl with this hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)104
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ103
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ10
club.gif (841 bytes)A976

After 1club.gif (841 bytes)-Dbl or 1diamond.gif (837 bytes)-Dbl I would bid 1heart.gif (841 bytes), and after 1heart.gif (841 bytes)-Dbl I would bid 3heart.gif (841 bytes). 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?

West North East South
1diamond.gif (837 bytes) 1heart.gif (841 bytes) 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

Your hand:


spade.gif (842 bytes)875
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q842
diamond.gif (837 bytes)65
club.gif (841 bytes)J1098

#2 Partner leads the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A. What card do you play?

West North East South
1spade.gif (842 bytes) 2diamond.gif (837 bytes) 2spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 3spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass 4spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Your hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
West club.gif (841 bytes)??? East
spade.gif (842 bytes)75 spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)843 heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ62 diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)J732 South (dummy) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q1063
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQJ65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)85
club.gif (841 bytes)108

#3 What card do you lead?

West North East South
1club.gif (841 bytes) 1heart.gif (841 bytes) 1spade.gif (842 bytes)
4heart.gif (841 bytes) 4spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass 4NT
Pass 5heart.gif (841 bytes) Double 5spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Your hand:


spade.gif (842 bytes)A72
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q10765
diamond.gif (837 bytes)10863
club.gif (841 bytes)4

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 (heart.gif (841 bytes)2) only then does 3NT go down one trick.

The complete hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)Q1062
heart.gif (841 bytes)3
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AKJ8
West (you) club.gif (841 bytes)KQ32 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)875 spade.gif (842 bytes)AJ9
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q842 heart.gif (841 bytes)A10976
diamond.gif (837 bytes)65 diamond.gif (837 bytes)432
club.gif (841 bytes)J1098 South club.gif (841 bytes)65
spade.gif (842 bytes)K43
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ5
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q1097
club.gif (841 bytes)A74

#2 - The correct play is the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q to signal that you hold the diamond.gif (837 bytes)J in case partner needs to put your hand on lead at trick two. Yes, the diamond.gif (837 bytes)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 4spade.gif (842 bytes).

The complete hand:

spade.gif (842 bytes)AKJ42
heart.gif (841 bytes)A10
diamond.gif (837 bytes)107
West (you) club.gif (841 bytes)K654 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)75 spade.gif (842 bytes)98
heart.gif (841 bytes)843 heart.gif (841 bytes)972
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ62 diamond.gif (837 bytes)AK943
club.gif (841 bytes)J732 South club.gif (841 bytes)AQ9
spade.gif (842 bytes)Q1063
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQJ65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)85
club.gif (841 bytes)108

#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 spade.gif (842 bytes)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:

spade.gif (842 bytes)Q843
heart.gif (841 bytes)9
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AJ5
West (you) club.gif (841 bytes)AKQ97 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)A72 spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q10765 heart.gif (841 bytes)AKJ43
diamond.gif (837 bytes)10863 diamond.gif (837 bytes)942
club.gif (841 bytes)4 South club.gif (841 bytes)8532
spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ1096
heart.gif (841 bytes)82
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KQ7
club.gif (841 bytes)J106

Gary King

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