Advancing an Overcall Over a Raise

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 1 2

It took much longer for the takeout double of responder's raise over partner's overcall to gain acceptance than that of the raise over partner's double. The original responsive double (something--double--raise--double) was publicized earlier (February, 1953, Bridge World), it had higher frequency, and it was less likely to be needed as a penalty double. However, time has marched on--or moved on, at least--and in the 1984 version of Bridge World Standard, a double is not for penalties at the two level if partner has overcalled and the opponents have raised.

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

(a) K Q 6 4 2    5    6 4    K 10 8 6 2

(b) K Q 6 3    J 5    8 4 2    A 10 9 7

(c) K J 8 6 4 3    5    4    Q J 6 4 2

(d) J 8 6 4    K 10 8    A 7    Q 10 7 6

(e) Q 10 6 4    K 10 8 7    A 7    Q 10 7

(f) Q 10 6    5    K Q 9 8 4    A 6 4 3


K Q 6 4 2    5    6 4    K 10 8 6 2

(a) Double. When you double at the two level, you need not anticipate partner's passing for penalties. Therefore, it is suitable to double with distribution in the unbid suits and a smattering of high cards. You do not really have complete two-level security with this hand (in view of the singleton heart), but, especially at matchpoints, it is worth taking moderate risks to compete.

K Q 6 3    J 5    8 4 2    A 10 9 7

(b) Double. Obviously, when you double on both hands (a) and (b) it puts partner under a lot of strain if he has to make a competitive decision on the next round. Even so, this is the least of evils, because your options are so limited. Passing doesn't figure to accomplish anything, and there is certainly no guarantee partner will reopen. The only other possibility is to raise to two hearts, but this both overstates the offensive potential and understates the defensive potential. Also, the raise may encourage partner to bid more hearts than is appropriate.

K J 8 6 4 3    5    4    Q J 6 4 2

(c) Two spades. It is more than an outside possibility that your side belongs in clubs, but you cannot afford to investigate. Your hand figures to play better in spades even if partner has one more club; you can hope to outbid the opponents in spades, far more easily than in clubs; and a double would suggest a smidgeon more in high cards.

J 8 6 4    K 10 8    A 7    Q 10 7 6

(d) Two hearts. When a double suggests the missing suits, it cannot be used to replace the cue-bid raise to two. A single raise is relatively weak, merely competitive; a jump raise is preemptive. The strong raise is the cue-bid, which forces your side to the three level. You would have cue-bid two with this hand, if given the opportunity; now you are forced by the raise to decide between the risk of missing game with a slight underbid, and the risk of going down at three hearts after a slight overbid. At matchpoints, you should protect the plus when reasonable.

Q 10 6 4    K 10 8 7    A 7    Q 10 7

(e) Three diamonds. This hand is a bit too good for the conservative stance we suggested in (d). When you are dealt these cards, you grit your teeth and regret you aren't using the double as a replacement cue-bid. (When you are using the double that way, you grit your teeth when you hold hands similar to (a).)

Q 10 6    5    K Q 9 8 4    A 6 4 3

(f) Pass. You can't sensibly double (partner will bid something you don't want to hear), so the only alternative is to try two notrump. With a misfit for hearts and no real source of tricks, two notrump would be a substantial overbid. You have a much better chance for a plus defending two diamonds (which requires only six tricks for success). You will not be unhappy if partner reopens with a double, or even if he reopens with two hearts, which you expect to make.

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


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