Stick it to the Man (Doubled & Redoubled!)

A couple of weekends ago I traveled to Michigan to visit my best friend, Jonathan, during one of the two annual regionals that take place in the Detroit metro area. We played team games all weekend, which are my favorite, due to the form of scoring and the fact that it allows more down-time with friends between rounds than in a pairs game.

So, we are putzing along on Saturday with a few victorious rounds under our belts, when we wind up playing against a particular Michigan team that we’ve come to know well over the years. One select member of this team is infamous in the community – he tends to act a bit entitled, flashy with his wealth, and generally purports an “above-it-all” attitude. And, at an impressive 6’5″ tall, he tends to be am imposing figure in any room.

We play a few harmless hands in our 7-board match, our opponents endlessly analyzing each previous hand to ensure themselves that they did nothing wrong. Then, around the 5th board, I pick up the following hand:

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 10.29.32 AM

The dealer is Mr. Hotshot to my right, and he opens 1♣. We are non-vulnerable, and I really don’t want to pass this hand. While I hesitate to encourage this bid to aspiring players, I bid 1NT, for better or for worse, showing 15-18 HCP, a club stopper, and (usually) a balanced hand. It was certainly a risk, but I deemed it the “least lie” with this particular hand.

My left hand opponent passes, and to my delight, my partner bids Stayman. Whether or not we have a heart fit, it looks like I will not be punished for my off-shape NT overcall. Now Mr. Moneybags decides to make a Lead-Directing Double, showing clubs. Generally when he opens 1♣, then later doubles an artificial club bid, it tells his partner he actually has a decent club suit and wants partner to lead a club. So, here is the auction thus far:

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 10.42.05 AM.png

The auction is back to you, and the tension in air is palpable — what would you do?

Our action here brings us to a followup lesson on REDOUBLES – we introduced the redouble concept awhile back for newer players who have no idea as to its use or purpose. Now, we can talk about strategy and implementation. I like to use the following Rule of Thumb:

If the opponent on my right doubles me and I redouble (in DIRECT seat), it is strong, indicating that I have extra strength, extra length in the doubled suit, or that I want to penalize them in some contract.

If the opponent on my left doubles me and my partner and other opponent pass (so I am in BALANCING seat), my redouble is S.O.S. saying “Partner, HELP! I’ve made a mistake and I want you to bid your longest suit to rescue me!”

So, naturally, I took my life in my hands with the world’s worst 5 card club suit headed by the King, and redoubled Mr. Bigwig. Basically, my redouble was saying, “I know his double shows clubs, but I’m telling you that I REALLY have clubs!” My partner would generally pass with a few clubs (at least three, or two to an honor) or bid something with very short clubs.

Today, my partner had a 12-count with three clubs, so he shrugged and passed. Mr. Big Cheese also shrugs and passes, so now we get to play the hand in 2♣xx. The stakes are high, so I naturally did what any player who just put her partner in a questionable contract would do — I excused myself to the bathroom, and called upon our non-bridge-playing-friend who was kibbitzing to pull the dummy for me. (Note that this was our lovely kibbitzer’s first time witnessing bridge in action, and his very first hand was a redoubled one!)

I meekly walk back to the table after collecting a cup of water, seeing that they are returning the cards to the board having completed the hand, and sheepishly look to my partner.

Jonathan is shying away a smile and subtly flashes four fingers to me.

2♣xx making 4(!!!!!!) for a nice round +960.

We score that up against our teammates, who were -420 on the board (our opponents who held our hands were in 4 making) for a solid “Win 11” imps on that board. Needless to say, the match went in our favor. Unfortunately, we didn’t emerge victorious on the day, but personal victories are just as important, right?

Moral of the story: Lead-directing doubles can be great, but make sure you think you can beat the contract before you make one! Mr. Savvy took 3 trump tricks and that was all. See the full hand below:

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 10.57.54 AM

— Julie Arbit




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