Troubles with Redoubles -- Part III (November 2003)

In the previous article, we looked at the problems that can arise from the injudicious use of a redouble over an opponent’s takeout double. If you hold 10+ points with one or two long suits, it’s often best to forego the redouble and make a natural (and forcing) 1-level bid.

Figuring out whether or not to redouble is only half the battle. After you redouble and the bidding comes back to you, you have to find an accurate way to continue describing your hand. Here’s a typical auction:

   Partner   RHO      You       LHO 
    1H           DBL       RDBL     Pass
    Pass         1S          ???

If you redoubled with one of the recommended hand types, it should be relatively easy to find a good rebid. The basic guidelines are:

Your rebid options

1 – Pass.  The redouble sets up a force, so when it’s your RHO who bids the runout suit, you have the option of passing the decision around to partner. Keep in mind, though, that partner won’t be all that appreciative of your deference if he holds a hand like  S-42  H-Q8764  D-AQ3  C-AJ4

He’ll probably burn a few thousand brain cells before he finally comes up with an unappealing  2C, and your auction from there may be awkward. Unless you have an interest in penalizing 1S, it’s better to take the pressure off partner and make your natural rebid over the runout.

2 - Bid notrump. This shows a spade stopper and no interest in defending 1S doubled (often because of the vulnerability). With 10-11 points (perhaps an “ugly” 12), bid 1NT, which is not forcing. With any stronger hand, jump to 2NT or 3NT.

Some pairs like to treat any below-game notrump bid as non-forcing – they bid 1NT with 10-11 points and 2NT with a good 11 to 12. If you play a light opening-bid style, this may help you stay out of an iffy game. Most pairs, though, find it more useful to play the jump to 2NT as forcing. This gives partner room to rebid a 6-card heart suit or make another descriptive bid.

3 - Raise partner’s suit.  The convention card has a checkbox for “Redouble implies no fit”. The more popular treatment is “temporarily implies no fit”, as there’s value in using a redouble to begin the description of a hand with moderate support.

After you redouble, your minimum bid in partner’s suit (2H) shows 3-card support and 11-12 playing points -- a hand that’s too strong for a single raise, but doesn’t have the 4-card support needed for a limit raise. After partner’s 1H opening, you would choose this approach with
    S-542     H-1043   D-AQ84  C-KQ4
    S-6542   H-Q96    D-3   C-AQJ75

If you start with a redouble, there’s no need to jump later. You can show your invitational values and still stop at the 2-level if partner has a minimum.

Add another queen to each hand, and both would be worth a jump to 3H to force to game. Move the spade 2 to the heart suit, and you probably wouldn’t have chosen the redouble. If you have a 4-card limit raise, it’s better to show it immediately over the double. A popular agreement is to use a jump to 2NT to show limit-raise-or-better values.

4 - Bid a new suit. This is forcing, but not necessarily to game. With a hand like   S-532  H-D-KQJ  C-KQ10764  you had to redouble first, since an immediate 2C over the double would have been non-forcing (5-9 pts.). Bid 2C now, and if partner bids 2NT, raise to 3NT. If he bids 2D or 2H, rebid 3C, which suggests a 6-card suit, but not enough strength to insist on game. Partner is allowed to pass with a non-fitting minimum.

5  - Cuebid (2S). You can use this as a general game-force with hands of 12+ points that don’t fit any other rebid – no stopper, no fit for partner, no long suit. It might show a hand such as  S-832  H-K8  D-KJ83  C-AQ104.

If partner has a spade stopper, he’ll bid 2NT and you can play 3NT from the “correct” side. If partner can’t bid notrump, the auction will be trickier. You could try game in your 5-2 heart fit, or you might take your chances in the “stopperless” 3NT. It’s likely that spades are divided 4-4 or 4-3, and unless partner has a real horror of an opening bid, you should have 9 tricks once you get in.

6 – Double for penalty.  Under the right conditions, this can be the most attractive of all your options. It’s also the one that requires the most careful judgment. We’ll look at the factors that affect this decision in the next installment.

 ©  2005 Karen Walker