Troubles with Redoubles -- Part IX    (May 2004)

Here’s an auction that takes many partnerships into uncharted territory:

         RHO        You       LHO       Partner   
          1D            1S         DBL *      RDBL                    * (negative)

Which type of hand do you think partner holds?

   A:  S-KJ5    H-J76          D-65       C-A9732

   B:  S-63       H-AQJ7      D-1053   C-A1092

   C:  S-Void   H-QJ1065  D-1053    C-QJ972

Suppose you hold   S-AQ1042    H-54   D-Q982  C-K4

If partner is showing a spade raise (A), you’d like to compete to 2S over almost any call by RHO. If you think partner is denying support but showing a good hand (B), then the opponents may be in trouble. You’ll want to cooperate with partner’s penalty suggestion by passing or, if RHO bids 2D, by doubling to show your good holding in that suit.

If you fear a misfit like (C), then it’s your side that’s in trouble, and you’d better bid something. Even with a new partner, though, you shouldn’t have to worry about this possibility. Few players believe this redouble should be a rescue request, and even fewer would try it out on you without discussion.

Unless you’ve previously agreed on a special meaning for this redouble, partner should hold a hand similar to (B). This hand fits the “when in doubt” default, which is that redoubles always suggest extra values and interest in penalizing the opponents’ contract.

Rosenkranz redoubles

One special agreement that can be used here is the Rosenkranz convention, which defines the redouble as a raise with one of the top three honors (a direct raise to 2S denies a top honor). This can be valuable knowledge if you’re the opening leader. The downside is that you may end up on opening lead more often than you’d like because the redouble can make it easier for the opponents to outbid you.

Playing Rosenkranz, partner would redouble with (A) to show his spade king, which gives opener an extra level of bidding. If partner instead bids an immediate 2S, opener has a tougher rebid problem at the 3-level, and you may have a better chance of buying the contract.

Redoubles after the opponents open

This is one reason the redouble is recommended only with stronger, defensive-oriented hands. When the opponents open, they often have an advantage because they’ve started exchanging information before you have. A redouble gives them even more room to describe their hands, so if you use one, you want to be sure you really want to hear – and possibly defend – their next bid.

Here are some other auctions where you can make good uses of redoubles after the opponents open:

             LHO     Partner     RHO      You     
   (1)     1D            Pass          1H          1S
             DBL *     RDBL                                              * (Support double )

   (2)     1H            DBL         Pass        1S
             DBL         RDBL

   (3)     1S             2C             Pass        Pass
             DBL        RDBL

In (1), opener’s double is artificial, showing 3-card support for his partner’s suit. Your partner may hold  S-84   H-AJ107   D-KQ95   C-Q64

He’s ready to double if they play in diamonds, hearts or notrump. If opener rebids 2C, partner can pass to allow you to double.

In (2), partner is showing extra strength (at least 16-17 points), probably with just three spades. If he had a strong hand with four spades, he would raise or cuebid. You’ve promised nothing so far, so unless you have a 6-card suit, you should pass and see if partner wants to double the opponent’s runout.

The auction in (3) can be risky because of the possibility that RHO has a club stack. If partner has extra high-card strength but just an “average” suit, your RHO can pass for penalties and you may have nowhere to go. For this reason, this redouble should promise a good hand and a good suit.  Partner is encouraging you to double their contract or compete to 3C. He may hold S-76   H-AQ   D-K103   C-AKJ1096

In all of these auctions, you’ll use your picture of partner’s hand to decide whether to defend or declare. There’s a good case for playing Auction (1) as forcing (you must declare or double), but in the others, you’re allowed to pass out their undoubled contract if you’re broke.

This default meaning for a redouble is “on” any time the opponent’s double was takeout, negative, support or any other non-penalty double. If their double was for penalty, redoubles can be much more exciting. We’ll look at “business” and SOS redoubles in the next installment.

©  2006   Karen Walker