Better Basic Bridge: What can go wrong with balancing takeout doubles?

Nancy Evins • Updated Mar 5, 2017 at 4:00 PM

A sectional tournament was held Feb. 23-27 at the Vanderbilt Bridge Center.

Many played every day. I played last Thursday and Monday. My partner and I played in the open pairs Thursday afternoon and Thursday night. We did rather well in both sessions.

Today was a Swiss team event with six rounds of eight boards each. We won the first round by a lot and then puttered along for the next few.

The hand that cost us so much involved a balancing takeout double. Since my last few columns have dealt with balancing doubles, see how you would bid this. Again, my partner and I always sit North/South because the directors are so kind to let me sit South, which is a stationary position.

East opens with one diamond; pass by me. West bids one heart; pass by my partner. East raises to two hearts, I pass, and so does West. My partner is in the balancing/takeout seat, so he doubles. East redoubles.

In some cases a redouble can be called an SOS bid, meaning, “partner pick another suit,” particularly when he has opened a club with only three and partner has less than six points and leaves it in. If an opponent doubles, the club opener might redouble to say, ”I don’t care that you don’t have any points, bid something and get me out of this mess.”

Of course, if his partner is holding five or six clubs, he has the choice to leave it in. Otherwise he bids his longest suit and hopes for the best.

In this case where our opponents have bid two hearts, doubled and redoubled, I am holding:

(S) 8 4 3

(H) J 9 8 5 3

(D) 3

(C) A 8 6 5

So what would you do? Pass, since you know they only have four hearts apiece, and you have five. Or would you bid your four-card club suit?

I decided to leave it in. Partner leads a small diamond, which is easily won by West.

The fight begins, and we take five tricks, letting them make their two hearts doubled and redoubled for a score of 840. That was a whopping loss for that round, and our teammates weren’t too thrilled about it.

All three men at my table agreed that I should have bid the four-card club suit.

Suddenly my partner spoke up and said, “No, we should have set it two.” He said he led the diamond because he thought I might be void, but had the led his fourth-best club, he knew I would have signaled that I held the ace. We would have had a plus score of 600, winning that round solidly.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but I realized that when I got in with a trump instead of leading a spade, I should have led the ace of clubs. After all, he said he had something in his other suits. Then, he would have signaled that he held the king.

I must confess that when I see him next time.

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at na_evins@att.net.


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