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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Fight Fire With Fire – How To React When Partner Opens And They Double – 18 June 2010

It’s great when partner opens the bidding and there you sit, looking at a pretty good hand. You mentally check off the possible bids, narrow it down to the right one and wait for your RHO to pass. But the beastly opponent DOESN’T PASS but DOUBLES!

Now what? Should the double affect the way you bid? Can you still make the bid you were going to? Does that bid now mean the same thing? It’s a nightmare. Yes, sometimes a double can make things difficult, sure, but there are other times when it can work out to your advantage. It can warn you where all the points are, or where certain cards are too, making your tight decisions less of a guess. So, what’s the strategy?

1) Partner opens a minor suit (C&D) and they double:
To begin with, there’s no reason why you shouldn't just “ignore the double” and bid exactly the way you would without the Double. There’s a fair possibility you have a 4 card (or better) major and if so BID IT. Before you do anything else.

With no 4 card major your options are about whether or not you have a fit and/or points, so you
can either: a) Raise partner. b) Bid 1N. c) Redouble.

a) When you raise a minor you will ALWAYS have at least 4 card support (4cs). Prefer a raise of partner’s suit in preference to either 1N or Redouble if you have a fit and no 4 card major. [OK, you can bid 1N if you have support BUT the hand is deathly flat – 3334 – and deathly weak: 6 or 7HCP].

After a double your raises are all pre-emptive. They’re called stretch raises. That is, you bid a level higher than you would have done without the intervening Double. So, partner opens
1D and your bids could be something like:
  • 2D = 3 - 5 HCP (4cs)
  • 3D = 6 - 9 HCP (4cs)
  • 4D = 6 - 9 HCP (5cs)
  • 5D = 6 - 9 HCP (6cs)

None of this is written in stone. I’m just trying to give you an idea of how you might bid and how the principle of the “stretch” raise works in practice. All you’re trying to do is get in the way of LHO and what you actually do will depend on singletons, voids and vulnerability.

OK? So now, you want to know how you raise partner with a fit, no 4 card Major, and an invitational (10 - 12 HCP) hand or one that's even better, don’t you? Fair enough. Both these hands go into one bid! which is (of course) 2NT!

The theory runs that in competitive situations 2N is a redundant bid. Unless specifically asked by partner about the viability of a NT contract your bounden duty above all else is to communicate fits if at all possible, and the loss of a natural 2N in these situations is of no consequence. (So says Mr Truscott who started all this off in the 50’s and to whom we are indebted.)

In the sequence

1D - DOUBLE (X) - 2NT

partner now knows: you do not have a 4 card major, but you do have 10+ HCP and at least a 4 card fit in D’s. If minimum, partner should sign off in 3D. If partner makes any other noise, game must be on somewhere.

Points But No Fit
Next are all the hands that don't have a fit for partner:

b) 1NT is the usual bucket bid: no 4 card Major, no 4cs in partner’s suit and 6 - 9 HCP. We-e-ell, I suppose you might have a scrappy, lousy 4 card major you’re not keen on and you’d rather just get in the way…

Now you also want to know what to do with all the other 10+ point hands I expect.


c) Most of these hands are covered by RE-DOUBLE (XX).

This says “I have 10+ points partner, we have the balance of the points, so there might be a juicy penalty if they get over ambitious as we do not ourselves have any obvious fit so far.” (Notice how only when they Double do you get this extra bid!)


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