Troubles with Redoubles -- Part XV  (November 2004)

New tricks for redoubles

If you feel the blue redouble card in your bidding box is under-employed, you may want to consider adopting some of the inventive new agreements now being used by expert pairs. Some of these gadgets are fairly complex, and for casual partnerships, they may be little more than a minus 1600 just waiting to happen. If you have the time to discuss them with a regular partner, though, these innovations can be valuable additions to your system.

The doubt-showing redouble

One of the more creative new uses for the redouble is after an opponent doubles your notrump contract to request the lead of a specific suit. Suppose you hold
   S-J753   H-A7   D-KQ3   C-A942
and the auction goes:

  Partner     RHO     You        LHO
   1C           Pass        1S          Pass
   1NT        Pass        3NT       DBL
   Pass        Pass          ?

The double asked for the lead of dummy’s first-bid suit (spades). If the doubler has AKQ102, you’re down off the top. He could, however, have a less-solid holding (AKQ98 or KQ1096, for example), with your partner having the missing honor. If so, your hand is probably strong enough to take nine tricks with just one stopper.

This is where the doubt-showing redouble comes in handy. Instead of guessing whether partner has a helpful card, you redouble to ask him. To evaluate his spade holding, partner should play you for at least 10xxx. If he also has an honor – on this deal, even 10x – he knows there’s at least a slow stopper and he passes. With only low cards in the critical suit, he’s obliged to run.

 Some pairs prefer to make the notrump bidder the one responsible for the doubt-showing message, and this is an option you’ll want to cover in your partnership discussion. In the auction above, partner (opener) would redouble to warn you of a weak spade holding -- a hand such as  S-42   H-K98   D-A104   C-KQ853

If he passes the double, he promises 10x or better. Note that when the redoubler is not the original bidder of the critical suit, he shows only low cards (no partial stopper). To leave this redouble in, you need a full stopper and enough length or intermediate spots to survive a lead through your holding.

Other uses

You can also extend the doubt-showing message to other auctions. The general agreement is that if our 3NT contract is doubled -- and if there’s a potential weakness we haven’t already investigated – then a redouble shows doubt. It’s up to the redoubler’s partner to work out the exact problem. Here’s an example:

    LHO      Partner     RHO      You 
     Pass          Pass         1S          3S
     Pass          3NT        DBL        ?

Your 3S showed a long running minor and asked partner to bid 3NT with a spade stopper. After the double, though, you could invoke the doubt-showing redouble with  S-2   H-1072   D-52   C-AKQJ876

You might have had an outside trick or two for your jump cuebid, so this hand is dead minimum. Since partner has already confirmed a full stopper, he’ll know that isn’t your concern. Your redouble should suggest your problem is a lack of outside strength, which means partner needs other stoppers and a quick trick to leave the double in.

The caveats

One drawback of adding this agreement to your system is that you have to give up the business redouble. This is not a big sacrifice for most pairs. When was the last time you needed to redouble 3NT to get a good score?

The more serious problem  – and it’s a big one – is that a little science can be a dangerous thing. The doubt-showing redouble can be spectacularly successful when it’s right, but it forces you into an all-or-nothing position. If either of you misreads the situation, it will be a very expensive misunderstanding.

If your partnership decides to use these redoubles, you’ll want to develop clear understandings about when the doubt-showing meaning is “on” and “off”. It’s probably a good idea to set your default to “always on” and focus your discussion just on the exceptions. One obvious exception should be an auction like:

     You        LHO     Partner     RHO
      1D           2C         2NT          Pass
      3NT       DBL       Pass           Pass

Here, your opponent’s double says “lead my suit, partner”. Your redouble, though, should not be doubt-showing because there’s no new information to consider. Both of you already knew about LHO’s club suit, partner has guaranteed a full stopper, and if you had fears about notrump, you wouldn’t have freely raised to game. This redouble is to play, based on a “surprise” source of tricks (long running diamonds) and confidence that you’ll collect an even bigger number if they run to 4C.

In the next issue: Stopper-showing redoubles

 ©  2005 Karen Walker