Thursday, May 4, 2017

Doubling preempts with two places to play

I'm back on the subject of the ineptly named "Equal-level Conversion" after a double, a topic I last covered three years ago in Equal Level Conversion. I'm not entirely sure I still agree with my previous blog, but that's another story.

An odd thing happened to me playing with the GIB robots on BBO. Well, I shouldn't say "odd" because much of what they do is sub-par and humans should expect the unexpected. Nevertheless, I thought the GIBs would have more of a clue in this auction.

Here was a situation I faced with a hand that was something like the following: AKJ7 Q4 KQJT3 86.  My RHO opened proceedings with 2. I don't recall the vulnerability. Double seemed like the obvious call (to me, at least). LHO passed and partner (GIB) bid the inevitable 3. I "corrected" to 3, showing two places to play (the pointy suits). Partner bid 4. Just to be on the safe side, I checked the explanation for my 3 bid: "twice rebiddable diamonds 19+ points" or something like that.

But if I really had that hand, I could have jumped in diamonds rather than doubling (we hadn't agreed Leaping Michaels). Admittedly, bidding 4 takes us past 3NT but it would describe a hand with something like "twice rebiddable diamonds 19+ points" and no heart stopper (although 3 would also tend to show a hand like that).

My point here is that, when the opponents have preempted, it's very much more likely that we want to double with a two-suiter than when the bidding starts with the one-level. Two-suited hands over any ordinary opening bid can be shown with Michaels, overcalling twice, or (with a suitable agreement) some other shape.

But, over a preempt, you no longer have Michaels available (unless you are playing Leaping Michaels and they open a weak two) and you simply may not have room to bid twice. Therefore, it's much more likely that you want to double with a two-suiter rather than some magnificent one-suiter (which you may be able to show with a simple jump).

Even when the "correction" is not at equal level (as it was in my example), I believe that pulling partner's response to the next cheapest unbid suit has to show a two-suited hand, even if that may force partner to an uncomfortable level.


  1. In this view, does Double always promise the highest suit unbid suit, or just any two suits?

  2. By highest, I assume you mean "most expensive". I think it all depends on your strength. Let's say they open 2H and you have spades and clubs (the cheapest suits). BTW if you're playing leaping michaels there's no problem if your hand is good enough--just bid 4C. But, assuming not. You double and partner chooses the most expensive suit, diamonds. You "correct" to 3S and he now chooses 4C. You're at the four level with no great fit and no possible game. You'd better have the goods.