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H. Anthony Medley is an Attorney, an MPAA-accredited film critic, and author of Learn to Play Bridge Like A Boss,Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, and UCLA Basketball: The Real Story. He is a Silver Life Master and an ACBL-accredited Director and the author of a bridge column for a Los Angeles newspaper.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Do You Rebid 1 No Trump, or Make a Support Double?

Here’s your hand sitting west as dealer:
Here’s the bidding:
West            North           East   South
1D               P                 1H     1S

Many players play a convention called “support doubles.” This means that if you open and partner bids a suit and your RHO overcalls, if you double you are promising three cards in the suit your partner bid. Since partner may have only four cards in the suit, you should not raise with only three cards in her suit, so this gives you the opportunity to tell her that you have exactly three cards in her suit. This is a nice conventional bid, but it can cause problems.

Without a support double, you would have to decide whether to raise her suit with only three cards, or to bid 1NT over South’s 1S. This 1NT call limits your hand to not more than 14 HCP but promises a stopper in your RHO’s suit.

So what do you do here? You have two possibilities, the support double or 1NT. The answer is that you should bid 1NT. Why? Two reasons; the first is that if you bid 1NT, your partner may use New Minor Forcing to show that she has five cards in her suit and 10 HCP, if she does. The second is that it limits your hand to not more than 14 HCP. If you make a support double, it has two negatives; first is that it does not limit your hand, so your partner doesn’t know if you are minimum or huge. Second, it does not tell her that you have a stopper in your RHO’s suit.

Here’s the four hand layout:

                        ♠ 1083
                        ♥ 764
                        ♦ AJ10
                        ♣ A1085

West                                             East
♠ KJ5                                      ♠ Q4
♥ AK2                                     ♥ Q953
♦ Q8632                                  ♦ 4
♣ 74                                        ♣ KQJ632

                        ♠ A9762
                        ♥ J108
                        ♦ K975
                        ♣ 9

If West bids 1NT, the bidding will probably end there, although with a pretty good six card suit, East might raise to 2NT, which West will pass. That’s the way it should be bid.

Alas, in the actual hand, West chose to make a support double. That really screwed things up because North then raised partner’s 1S overcall to 2S (something he probably would not do with his meager 3 little spades knowing West has a stopper in spades, although he might still bid on since he has two aces) and East bid 3C! The bidding got out of hand and West bid 3NT, which went down one.

The hand was played 12 times. It is unlikely that South overcalled 1S at many of the other 11 tables because it is a very aggressive bid. Five were in 1NT making two. Four were in 3NT, down one. One was in 2H, making two and one was in 4H, down one. One was in 2NT, down two, which is incomprehensible; right contract, but how in the world was it played to go down two?

This hand also shows the way aggressive bidders can mess up opponents’ bidding. South’s 1S overcall was precarious with only 8 HCP. But if South doesn’t overcall, West will bid 1N and the auction will end. South’s overcall enabled North to enter the bidding and get West and East to bid to an unmakeable contract. Good bid, South!

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