The Redouble

A redouble is a call that can be made when the last call in the current auction (other than a Pass) is a double. Like a double, it uses up no space on the bidding ladder. It can have one of three different meanings, depending on the auction:

1) For penalty.

This redouble is made after an opponent makes a penalty double of your contract. If you are sure the opponent made a mistake, you can use the call of Redouble to increase your score if you make the contract. If you go down, however, your redouble increases the penalty.

This type of redouble is very rare and should be used cautiously. Even if you're sure you can make your contract, a redouble keeps the auction open and gives the opponents another chance to bid. It may scare them into running back to a bid of their suit.

2) For rescue.

Like the penalty redouble, this is made after the opponents make a penalty redouble of your contract, but it sends the opposite message. Also called an "SOS redouble", it tells partner that this contract will be a disaster and he should run to another suit. You must have length in all unbid suits to use this redouble.

This meaning applies only if the auction is at a low level and you haven't shown support. It has to be obvious to partner that you could be extremely short in his suit or, if the opponents have doubled your bid, that you have reason to be worried about the length and quality of your suit.

Suppose you open 1C with  ♠AQ8 K864 1054  ♣A92, your left-hand opponent makes a takeout double and the auction goes Pass-Pass back to you. You know your right-hand opponent has long, strong clubs because he "converted" his partner's takeout double to penalty by passing. A call of Redouble by you asks partner to rescue you by bidding his longest suit. 

3) To show general strength.

This is the most common type of redouble. It's typically used after partner opens the bidding and your right-hand opponent makes a takeout double. If you redouble in this auction, it promises 10+ high-card points and sends a "This is our hand" message because you have the majority of the 40 high-card points. It suggests that you have good defensive strength in unbid suits and that you may want to double the opponents' final contract.

A redouble in this auction sets up a penalty situation. It forces the opponents to bid, and after they do, any double by you or partner is for penalty.

Planning your rebid

A redouble isn’t recommended with just any 10 points. It's important to consider how you'll continue showing your hand after the opponents run to a suit. This type of redouble works best when your hand is suitable for one of three rebid strategies:

1 – You hope to double the opponents’ runout. Along with your 10+ points, you'll usually have shortness in partner’s opened suit and strong holdings at least two unbid suits. This option is most attractive when the opponents are vulnerable and you're not.

2 – You plan to rebid notrump (or steer partner toward notrump). This will be your plan if you have 10+ points and fairly balanced distribution in the unbid suits. You may choose to bid notrump rather than make a penalty double if your holdings are not powerful enough to double the opponents' contract, especially if the opponents are not vulnerable.

3 – You plan to raise partner. A redouble followed by a minimum raise of partner's suit shows invitational values (11-12 support points) and moderate trump support (3 cards if partner opened a major, 4+ cards if he opened a minor).

       Partner     RHO      You       LHO
         1H           DBL       RDBL      1S
        Pass         Pass         2H

Partner can pass 2H if he has a dead-minimum opener.

When not to use a redouble

There are many hand types that don't fit any of those three bidding strategies. They include one-suiters, two-suiters and hands with longer support for opener's suit. You’ll often find it easier to describe these hands if you forego the redouble and just bid naturally.

Suppose, for example, that partner opens 1D, your RHO doubles and you hold  ♠4  AJ872  Q54  ♣KJ63. The opponents have at least an 8-card spade fit (partner has a maximum of 4 spades). If you redouble, you'll force them to bid their spades. The auction might even be at 2S when it gets back to you. Now what? You’ll have to begin searching for a trump suit at the 3-level, and if partner has a non-fitting minimum, there won’t be any way to stop below game.

With this hand type, it’s better to respond a natural 1H over the double. This does not deny 10+ points. Over an opponent's takeout double, a new suit at the 1-level forces partner to bid at least one more time. Partner will make his natural rebid and you can have a “normal” invitational auction. Even if the opponents bid their spades, you’ll be well placed to compete because you’ve already begun showing your suits.

Bidding a new suit at the 1-level suit

A 1-level response does not promise a 5-card suit. There are many situations where you’ll want to bid a 4-card suit, even with 10+ points. After 1D-Double, for example, respond 1S with  ♠K1086  KJ63  ♣AQ63. You don’t plan to rebid notrump nor sit a possible double of an opponent's 1H (or even 2H) bid, so a redouble is pointless. The takeout double shouldn’t talk you out of searching for a 4-4 fit. The doubler doesn’t always have four spades, and even when he does, 4S may still be the right game.

The same logic applies when you have a weaker hand. After 1C-DBL, respond 1H with  ♠54  Q873  A754  ♣Q84. If you pass, the opponents will probably bid spades and you’ll be shut out. Don't worry about the quality of your heart suit. Partner won't raise hearts unless he has 4-card support (or possibly a strong three cards and a ruffing value). 

This bidding stle is sometimes called “ignore the double”. You still use a redouble with suitable hands, but otherwise, you tend to make the same bid you would have made if RHO had passed.

Bidding a new suit at the 2-level or higher

The “ignore the double” style applies only to 1-level responses. Over RHO’s double, your 2-level, non-jump bid of a new suit has a different meaning than it would if your opponent had passed. Here, it is not forcing, showing 5-9 points and a 6+-card suit. A jump in a new suit (1H - DBL - 3C) is preemptive.

After 1H-Double, you can bid 2D (or even 3D if you aren't vulnerable) with  ♠52  76  KJ10762  ♣Q43. If you have a stronger hand -- ♠52  76  AKJ1076  ♣K43 -- you have to start with a redouble and bid your suit later.

©  2016 Karen Walker