Over a One-Level Suit Response

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 Pass1

Bridge World Standard 1984 covers several fourth-position actions, ways of getting into the auction after both opponents have bid. If each opponent has made a natural suit bid, fourth hand's one notrump is natural, and so is any overcall, even in a suit an opponent has bid. This is useful on occasion, and may prevent responder from stealing a suit; still, it is restrictive. The takeout double is the only cheap and convenient way to ask partner to bid one of the two missing suits.

As South, what call do you make with each of the following:

(a) Q 8 7   Q J 6   K 10 3   A Q 7 2

(b) A 8 7   Q J 6   K 10   A Q 10 7 2

(c) A 8 7   A Q 6   K 10   A Q 10 7 2

(d) A Q 6 4 2   10 6   4   Q J 7 6 2

(e) Q 6 4   A Q J 7 6   4   A 10 8 2

(f) Q 6 4   4   A Q J 7 6   A 10 8 2


Q 8 7   Q J 6   K 10 3   A Q 7 2

(a) Pass. It is possible that East is very weak, and that West is minimum; then you could safely and profitably enter the auction. However, over the long run you are going to get clobbered if you bid in this dangerous position, with scattered high cards and no distributional advantage. Overcalling one notrump is asking for trouble, and doubling when you don't want to be dummy is foolish.

A 8 7   Q J 6   K 10   A Q 10 7 2

(b) One notrump. It's still dangerous to act in between two bidding opponents, but here you have a reason. You have controls, stoppers and, especially, playing strength. As little as the jack of clubs with North, or a lucky break, will allow you to survive at one notrump. That much of a chance you can sensibly take.

A 8 7   A Q 6   K 10   A Q 10 7 2

(c) Double. Even though all the playing strength and quick tricks make this hand too good for one notrump, you would still bid that if otherwise you would have to commit yourself to two notrump. However, you can compromise in this case by doubling. Partner is likely to reply one spade; then you can rebid one notrump, suggesting extra strength--why else double without good spades? And if partner bids clubs, you can raise to show your strength safely.

A Q 6 4 2   10 6   4   Q J 7 6 2

(d) One spade. A double would open up club possibilities, but most partners would expect more in the way of high-card strength. Rather than mislead partner, you investigate the most promising of your side's competitive prospects, spades. It is very unlikely that it is your hand for clubs, even for a sacrifice, because of the extra level you'd have to bid. Even when clubs is right, it's hard to know that.

Q 6 4   A Q J 7 6   4   A 10 8 2

(e) Pass. Yes, two hearts would be natural, but your hand is not heart oriented enough to foreclose other possibilities. It plays nicely in spades, and in clubs as well. However, a double would remove hearts from the picture, and overemphasize the blacks. The simplest way out of this predicament is to pass, hoping to double on the next round, say, one notrump or two diamonds. This suggest hearts (because with short hearts you would double directly), and keeps other options open.

Q 6 4   4   A Q J 7 6   A 10 8 2

(f) Double. Your diamonds are not good enough to bid in front of the diamond bidder. The question is whether your somewhat downgraded values justify entering the auction at all. Probably, the technical merits, carefully measured, come out slightly on the "not" side; at matchpoints, though, it often pays to take risks to enter the auction at a relatively low level.

(Adapted from "Rate Your Own Game" in The Bridge World.)


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