Learn to Play Bridge Like a Boss

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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.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bidding in Response to Partner's Overcall

Here’s your hand sitting East:

Here’s the bidding, South dealer

West          North         East         South
2H              2S             ?

First, what do you know? South opened the bidding so probably has 12-14 HCP. Your partner, West, overcalled 2H at the two level. She probably has an opening hand or a terrific Heart suit. North raised opening bidder to the two level, so he has a minimum, probably at least three spades and six HCP. You have 10 HCP and a void in partner’s suit. For partner’s overcall she should have at least 10 HCP (with a big heart suit), or an opening hand of at least 12 HCP. That adds up to 18 HCP for opponents and 22 HCP for you, at a minimum.

The result of this analysis is that you should not pass. This should be your hand, but obviously not in hearts. You have two unbid five card minors. You have two possible calls, one of which is 2NT. But with only one stopper in opponents’ suit and a void in partner’s suit, that’s not a pleasing prospect. The bid here is to double. That’s not a penalty double. You are an unbid hand. You should be telling partner that you feel that you have the preponderance of the points and you can support both of the unbid suits. So your double is for takeout to one of the unbid suits, and to tell partner that you have no support for her suit. This is called a “Responsive double.”

People play this differently, but the requirements for a responsive double are generally:

1.   Opponents have bid the same suit;
2.   Partner has either doubled or bid a suit;
3.   You cannot support partner’s suit;
4.   You have at least four cards in each of the unbid suits;
5.   You have at least 8 HCP if you force partner to bid a major at the one level or a minor at the two level;
6.   You have at least 9 HCP if you force partner to bid a major at the two level;
7.   You have at least 10 HCP if you force partner to bid at the three level.

Here is the four hand layout:

                        ♠ KQ3
                        ♥ 8654
                        ♦ 42
                        ♣ Q1075

West                                        East
♠ 74                                         ♠ A98
♥ Q10973                                ♥ Void
♦ AK9                                     ♦ Q8653
♣ A64                                     ♣ KJ982

                        ♠ 106532
                        ♥ AKJ2
                        ♦ J107
                        ♣ 3

Clearly, South took an extremely optimistic view of her hand by opening 1S in first seat with only 9 HCP, but this is a perfect hand for East to make a Responsive Double with 10 HCP and 5-5 in the two unbid suits. Double dummy (looking at all four hands) the hand makes game in either minor, although it’s better in diamonds due to the unfavorable club split.

Be sure that you and partner are on the same wave length. You don’t want to make a responsive double and have your partner take it as penalty, and vice-versa.

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