In the "Bits and Pieces" column in the July 1997 Bridge World magazine, Harry Ross of Des Moines IA offered a humorous anecdote about a couple he had played against in a recent tournament. His story, entitled "Cut his tongue out?", begins:
"Three times he redoubled. Three times the contract failed. They lost the regional knockout by the narrowest of margins. His wife and bridge partner was seething."Two days later, Harry had an interesting encounter with the same couple when he played them in the Swiss teams. On one deal, Harry doubled the husband's 1NT opening and the wife passed. The husband alerted the pass, explaining that it asked him to redouble if it was passed back to him. Then he added, sheepishly, "But I can't."
The husband's dilemma had come because his wife had removed all the blue Redouble cards from his bidding box. After some negotiation and rummaging through her purse, she grudgingly loaned him one, and only one, Redouble card for this auction only.
The couple wasn't named in the article, but by the end of the first paragraph, I was fairly certain it was my friends Jack and Nancy Spear of Kansas City. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I got an email from Jack with a quiz about how to play a redoubled contract. It was one of the three offending hands from the knockout event.
Jack held: KQJ1065 Void AKJ865 J
and the auction proceeded:.
Jack LHO Nancy RHO
1S Pass 1NT Double
3D 4C Double Pass
4D Pass 5D Double
Redouble All pass
He was greeted by this dummy: Void A97654 72 Q9854
Jack got the helpful lead of the heart queen, allowing him to pitch his club loser on dummy's ace. His partner scowled when she saw the club honor, and Jack was wishing he had passed 4C doubled, if for no other reason than for marital harmony.
Still, this looked like a fairly easy make. Jack wrote: "Making 6, or even 7, was not impossible, but I didn't want any 'Greedy Pig' stories, so I tried to select a simple, safe line for a mere 11 tricks. But what would be a safe line anyway? I suspected there may be distribution afoot . . ."
What's your line of play? At the table, Jack decided the safest plan would be to lead a diamond to the ace and ruff one spade in dummy, hoping to lose no more than the spade ace and one diamond trick later. That backfired, though, when his RHO showed up with Q10xx of diamonds, and Jack was down one for -400.
Later, Jack realized that he should have known to finesse the diamond. He said the clue to the correct play -- a diamond to the jack at trick 2 -- was LHO's 4C bid, which should be a 5-card suit. That leaves RHO, who showed a takeout double of spades, with a doubleton club, so he must be 2-5-4-2. "Easy to see after the hand," Jack said.
So that was the story behind one of the disastrous redoubles from that session. Jack didn't provide any details about the other two. He did, however, offer in his defense: "So after one redouble goes wrong, the second one is easier, and the third. Kind of like a serial killer, I would imagine."
By the way . . . In spite of -- or thanks to -- the absent redouble cards, Jack and Nancy won the Flight A Swiss Teams that day.