Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Partnership Bridge: Redouble or pass?

Another thought-provoking article by the Granovetters in the May 2010 Bridge Bulletin. By chance, it is an excellent exemplar for my earlier blog Redoubling with three trumps.  Here's the hand in question (only we are vulnerable): ♠Q74 QT86 82 ♣AKQ3.  Partner deals and opens 1♠ and RHO doubles.  Now, what are our options?  2♠? no – too good.  3♠? no – ditto.  4♠? no – it gets us to the right spot but partner will think we have a weaker, more distributional hand.  2NT? not enough trumps.  Redouble?  no! – we have three trumps so, given the vulnerability, this doesn't look like a situation where we are enthusiastic about penalizing the opponents.  Pass?  Yes.  What can go wrong?  Nothing. Especially when we hold the boss suit.  Whatever they do next, we will bid 3♠ (or 4♠ if we think our hand is good enough) at our next turn.  If they bid 4 or 4♣ first, we can change tack and double.  Partner will know that we have a balanced hand with limit-raise strength and exactly three spades.

If by some miracle, they pass it out (they almost certainly won't) we will score 560 if we make 9 tricks or 760 if we can make game (even non-vulnerable, 1♠X+3 outscores 4♠).  Note, however, that on this hand it is just possible that the double will be passed out, as doubler's partner has ♠KJ985 942 T ♣T954.

Let's assume that LHO bids 2♣.  Partner rebids 2 and RHO raises to 3♣.  Now, having passed earlier, we enter the auction with 3♠, showing a three-card limit raise.  Partner will know exactly what to do.  He will pass.  Yes, on this particular occasion we give up on a penalty of 800, but 140 is still a reasonable plus score, at least at matchpoints.  On a really good day our LHO will now double 3♠, giving us 730.

What happened at the table, according to the article, was that our hand redoubled.  The bidding continued as above.  Over 3♣, our hand doubled.  Partner who had opened with a fine, if minimum, distributional hand ♠AT632 K AJ9764 ♣2, pulled our penalty double to 3 (a questionable action, as Pam points out in the article, since he's already shown a weakish distributional hand when he rebid 2) and we bid 3NT, never having shown our excellent spade support.  As it turned out 3NT cannot make from our side of the table, nor can 4♠ as it happens, each contract failing by a trick.  This is primarily due to a foul distribution of the missing spades (5-0).  But, generally speaking, when we have such good support and 13 hcp, we would normally expect to be in 4♠.  The fact that it doesn't make on this layout is neither here nor there.

I was surprised that neither Matthew nor Pam criticized the redouble.  If you've read my previous blog (referenced above) you'll know that I feel that redouble should guarantee no fit! Qxx opposite a major suit opener is a fit!  Partner can never know whether to penalize the opponents if he thinks that we might have three of his suit.

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