The Control-Showing Redouble

As luck would have it, another hand popped up illustrating yet another meaning of the redouble when I was playing with Peter Shwartz the other day at the club:

As North, I held the following hand with Peter Shwartz being the dealer:


Peter opened 1♦, my right hand opponent (“RHO”) overcalled 1♠, and, with my decent hand and 5 hearts, I bid 2♥.  (2/1 Learners please note:  a 2/1 bid over an overcall is NOT game forcing, but is forcing for 1 round, and so should only be made with a 10+ point hand.)  My LHO passed, and Peter bid 2♠!

What does Peter’s 2♠ mean?

Since our opponents bid spades naturally, it can not possibly be a natural bid.  In this position, this 2♠ cue-bid sets up a general game force.  It says nothing about Peter’s spade holding nor whether Peter has a spade control; it just commits us to game.  We now can “go slow” and explore slam possibilities as they present themselves.

My response to Peter’s cuebid is pretty much automatic:  most of the time I will bid 2NT as a “waiting bid”.  This does NOT show a spade stopper, but rather gives Peter a chance to describe his hand.  I don’t yet know WHY Peter wants to force to game and the 2NT waiting bid gives him a chance to tell me.  For example, if he has a really good diamond suit, he can bid 3♦; if he had heart support, he can now bid 3♥, setting hearts as trumps and expressing slam interest (with no slam interest, he would have made a direct jump to 4♥).  Peter would be confident that in either case, I could not and would not pass his bid.  (He could also rebid 3♠ to ask for a spade stopper for no-trump).  Occasionally, I might do something else instead of bidding 2NT:  for instance, if I had really long, good hearts and nothing in diamonds, I might just rebid my hearts to get that point of across.

Before I could even settle on my best course of action, my RHO slapped his double card on the table.  Here is the bidding so far:


If you were in my shoes, what would your  next bid be?  Would you have just made the default waiting of 2NT here, or is there some other, more informative bid you can now make in this situation?  Click the link below to see the answer.

West’s double of Peter’s cue-bid was really a beautiful thing, as it offered me an opportunity to make TWO bids that I did not have available before.   Those two bids are 1) a pass; and 2) a redouble.   (Note:  a pass is now available again in this game forcing auction since partner is assured of a chance to bid again).

There is no reason not to make use of these two additional bids.  Experienced partnerships assign the following meanings to the now-available bids:

Redouble:  A first-round control in the doubled suit (i.e., Ace or void)
Pass:           Neither first- nor second- round control nor a stopper in the doubled suit.
2NT:           A stopper in the doubled suit, but not a control (e.g., Qxx)
Any other bid:  A second-round control in the doubled suit (i.e., King or a singleton).

So with my A10x of spades, I decided to make a redouble, showing a first-round spade control.  (Hence the name of this type of redouble — the control-showing redouble).  This gives Peter a very clear idea of what to do next.

Here are two types of possible hands that Peter might have.  Ask yourself what you might do with each:

A.  180611_Rbld_Cntrl_South_w_Queen              B.  180611_Rbld_Cntrl_South_wo_Queen

Hand A:  We are definitely in the slam zone.  The partnership has no losers in spades or diamonds.  With this hand, Peter would just bid a gentle 3♥, setting hearts as trumps, confirming his interest in slam and inviting me to make a control-showing bid.  Recall that my hand was:


I would NOT bid 3♠ with this hand, since I already promised 1st round spade control, but would rather make the control-showing bid of 4♣, showing my 2nd round club control.  Now bidding the slam is easy-peasy.  Peter bids roman keycard blackwood, and finding out that we are missing one keycard, stops at 6♥, easily making 6.

But if Peter has hand B, things are not as pretty.  His ♠Q is wasted.  He does not have the ♦Q.  To make a slam, I would have to have perfect cards; a control in clubs, the ♦Q probability, and the ♥A.  The ♦Q is a key card, and there is no way for him to ascertain whether I have it before committing our side to slam.  So in this case, Peter would jump to 4♥, leaving it up to me to decide whether we should go on.  (I would know at this point that Peter was interested in a heart slam, since had he had only game-going values with heart support, he would have just jumped to 4♥ on his 2nd bid).  If I had had the ♦Q, I would have taken control and have bid blackwood myself.

Unfortunately, Peter had hand B, all four hands being shown below.


He just jumped to 4♥, and I passed, trusting his decision.  With the ♦Q off-side, 6♥ was doomed to fail.  Indeed, at least one pair went down in that contract, meaning that we got all the matchpoints we could on the board.

Note that West’s double was not wise.  There was really no point in doubling since he knows we are never playing in spades.  The only real reason for him to double is to ask for a spade lead.  But with his ratty spade suit, he did not want partner to lead a spade — a club lead might have worked out better.

So we have covered a 3rd possible meaning of a redouble:  the control-showing redouble.  Left to discuss are the following:   “penalty” redoubles; support redoubles; snapdragon redoubles and stripe-tailed ape redoubles.  We look forward to discussing these possible meanings of this rarest of bridge bids at the first available opportunity.

—  Tom Hunt



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