Troubles with Redoubles -- Part VII     (March 2004)

  Redoubles after you’ve found your fit

What are you promising with your redouble in these auctions?

         Partner    RHO      You          LHO     
(1)     1S            Pass         2S            Pass
          Pass         DBL        RDBL

(2)      --               --           1S            Pass
          2S             DBL       RDBL

(3)     1D           Pass         1H           Pass
          2H           DBL         RDBL

Are you showing extra high-card strength? Extra trump length? Does the redouble set up a forcing auction?

Defaults for redoubles

You can make good decisions in these situations by relying on the “default” agreement that applies to all redoubles. Unless you’re playing a specific convention, a redouble should always promise a strong, penalty-oriented hand. It sends the message that your side has the majority of the high-card points and that you think the opponents may have made a mistake.

Even though you’ve already established your fit, the redoubles in the auctions above still show defensive strength.  How much strength – and the agreements that apply to your subsequent calls -- depend on what you’ve already shown.

If you’ve previously limited your high-card strength -- as in Auction (1) – your redouble shows defensive tricks and maximum point-count for your earlier bidding. You’ll usually have a 3-card raise and at least moderate length in two or three unbid suits – a hand like  S-973   H-KQ4   D-A1052  C-1093

If your hand is unlimited – as in (2) and (3) – you’re suggesting at least game-try values. In (2), you might hold   S-KQJ86   H-52   D-KQ9  C-AQ5

In (3), redouble would be a good choice with S-KJ9   H-A852   D-83  C-QJ74

When not to redouble

Another way to think about your decision is to focus on the hand types that should not use a redouble.

Don’t redouble just to show extra length in your suit. Unless you want to show extra high-card strength, it’s pointless to redouble and give the opponents room to find their fit. In Auction (1), bid 3S immediately over the double, without waiting for the opponents’ runout, with  S-Q1084   H-A82   D-9843  C-65 .

Don’t redouble if you have defense against only one of three unbid suits. Even when you hold the right point-count for a redouble, it’s often better to make a natural, forward-going bid with a hand that has concentrated strength. In (2) above, bid 3C with  S-AQ1086   H-K   D-J4  C-AQ875 .

It’s only in your dreams that the opponents will play in clubs, so there’s no point in redoubling. They’re going to run to 3D or 3H, and you’ll lose the chance to make a natural game try.

In general, you shouldn’t be too optimistic about the “they-made-a-mistake” possibility when you hold a distributional hand. The best hand for a redouble is one that’s relatively balanced with  minimum length in your trump suit. The more trumps and playing strength you hold, the more suitable your hand is for offense and the less attractive a redouble becomes.

The follow-up auction

To take full advantage of these redoubles, you also need to make good decisions after the opponents bid their runout suit.

All of these redoubles set up penalty situations. A subsequent double by either of you is for penalty, but it’s not a command. If partner has extreme shortness in the opponents’ suit and/or extra length in your trump suit, he can pull your double to 3 of your suit.

So what happens if neither of you has the right hand for a penalty double? Did the redouble create a force, or are you allowed to pass out their undoubled contract?

The answer depends on who made the redouble. If you’re the weaker, limited hand – as in (1) above – the auction is not forcing. You’ve suggested doubling or bidding on, but if partner can’t take you up on it, there’s no reason you should be forced to the 3-level, especially if you have only an 8-card trump fit. Sometimes the opponents just outbid you, and you have the option to go quietly and defend.

However, if the redoubler has not yet limited his hand – as in (2) and (3) – all passes are forcing. You or partner must double their contract or bid on to at least three of your trump suit.

Redoubles in non-fitting auctions

You have different considerations in auctions where you haven’t yet confirmed a trump fit. In the next installment, we’ll discuss how to use the “when-in-doubt” defaults to interpret redoubles over negative, responsive and balancing doubles.

 ©  2006   Karen Walker