1D DBL RDBL 1S
White vs. red, what’s your call holding S-Q5 H-AK4 D-AJ10843 C-94 ?
A 2D rebid seems descriptive, but it gives up on a possible penalty. Even with the long suit, your hand has excellent defense against 1S, so it must be right to pass and let partner decide.
This is the same strategy you’d follow if RHO had passed. In that case, your pass would show a hand with decent defensive prospects. This includes all balanced openers – even dead minimums – and most other hands with 14+ points. If you bid in front of partner, you show a weaker, distributional hand.
In the hand above, you can comfortably pass if partner doubles. Give him a bare minimum like S-J976 H-Q93 D-Q2 C-AJ103 and you rate to collect at least 500. That beats the non-vulnerable 3NT contracts played at tables where the openers rebid 2D with your cards.
Note that you would also pass 1S with S-5 H-AK4 D-AJ10843 C-Q84 even though you don’t intend to defend. Over partner’s bid or double, you’ll rebid 2D. The pass-then-bid sequence lets you show your long suit and good high-card values.
The direct double
If RHO bids, you also have the option of making a penalty double. Even when you don’t have the right trump holding for a direct double, you know their runout suit, so you can base your bid-or-pass decision on your defense against that contract.
In the auction above, if RHO had bid 2C, you’d bid 2D with S-Q1062 H-AJ D-AJ10843 C-4.
Since you’ve kept partner from doubling, this shows poor defense against clubs. Your view of this hand should change, though, if RHO instead bids 1S, in which case you should double. This double promises trumps, not a lot of high-card points, and it’s a suggestion, not a command. At favorable vulnerability, partner will usually pass if he has two spades. If you’re vulnerable, he may decide that a better score is available on offense, especially if he has game-forcing values.
When LHO bids the runout suit
Your auctions can be trickier when it’s the takeout doubler who chooses the suit.
1H DBL RDBL Pass
Pass 1S Pass Pass
What’s your call holding S-642 H-KJ1043 D-Q5 C-AQ8 ?
Your initial reaction may be some mental grumbling (“thanks for nothing, partner”). Once you get past that, you have to come up with an intelligent call. Your decision will be easier if you figure out why partner passed.
Rules to bid by
To create a picture of partner’s hand, consider these standard agreements that apply after a redouble:
The redouble sets up a force. Your side is either going to declare its own contract or double their runout. You cannot pass out an opponent’s undoubled bid.
Any subsequent double by either of you is penalty.
A double of the opponents’ 1-level runout promises at least four reasonable trumps (usually Jxxx or better).
A pass of the runout denies a suitable 4-card trump holding, but suggests you’ll cooperate if partner doubles (you hold two or more trumps).
Based on these guidelines, partner cannot hold four good spades (no surprise there) and he doesn’t have a 3-card limit raise (he would have bid 2H). He’s passing because he has moderate spade length and wants to allow you to double.
You also have strong clues that the opponents’ spades are divided 4-3. LHO probably would have overcalled if he held 5 spades. RHO’s pass was non-committal, asking the doubler to rescue himself. RHO would have bid if he held a 5-card suit, a good 4-card minor or any 4 spades. That logic leads to 1NT as a reasonable rebid. Even if partner raises to a stopper-less 3NT, it could be cold, since you won’t lose more than 4 spade tricks.
The guidelines above will help you make good decisions in most auctions. However, you may occasionally face a nightmare like:
1C DBL RDBL 1H
Pass 2H Pass Pass
Red vs. white, what’s your call holding S-Q872 H-54 D-KQJ C-AJ106 ?
The opponents have 8 or 9 hearts and are taking advantage of the vulnerability. No matter how much you want to chicken out, Pass is the one call you cannot make, so bid 2S. Even if this meets disaster, partner will know he can still trust you on the next board.
© 2006 Karen Walker