This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Sorry State of Redoubles

In the last two years I've moved to a more active doubling approach in (relatively) weak fields - that is if I have 3+ cards in the takeout suits, and close to opening points or better, I double if the hand is not an overcall. This approach is flawed, since frequently one doesn't find much of a fit, and could result in some massacres in a very strong field. Non-expert partnerships often have no way to nail these doubles, and the doubles cause them lots of problems.

One problem the double creates for non-expert partnerships is that it changes their whole structure if they implement a standard strength-showing redouble. Say, for example, the partnership is playing 2/1, constructive 2M, Jacoby 2NT, Strong Jump Shifts. The bidding goes 1S-Pass-?, now:

1NT: forcing, can be a non-constructive raise to 2S or a game invite with 3Ss
2/1: natural, game force
2S: constructive
2NT: Jacoby
Jump shift: strong
3S: game invite with 4+ trumps

Now we throw in a double, 1S-Double-?. If playing common methods, their structure is now:

1NT: natural, and perhaps not clear what bottom range is for the bid
2/1: natural, non-forcing, unclear how good or bad a hand could be to bid this
2S: wide ranging, since 1NT forcing not available for non-constructive hands
2NT: game invite or better, but no agreement on follow-ups
Jump shift: weak
3S: preemptive, but little discussion on which hands fit this bid

The double has trashed their responding system.

They've also gained another bid, the redouble. Their agreement is that this is 11+ or 10+, but there likely has been little discussion of follow-ups. Nobody knows which passes are forcing, and responder's non-jump bids after the redouble may or may not be forcing. They don't have the judgment/experience to know when to double for penalty and when not to, and if they defend against a doubled contract their defense is often not optimal.

With the problems that the double imposes, you want to frequently throw in immediate doubles against non-expert partnerships.

Imo, it's been wrong teaching non-expert partnerships the strength-showing redouble. Just like many non-expert partnerships use the stolen bid approach to keep their 1NT structure, they should use a "Parking Lot Redouble" approach.

For details on how Parking Lot Redoubles were first intended, please see:

(ignore the headline of "Parking Log" - I'll edit this out once they have it fixed, and ignore that the link is for ParkingLotDoubles, not Redoubles)

What non-expert partnerships should do is play that, over a double:

- all bids retain the same meaning as before
- pass can be made with strong hand with shortness in partner's suit (if any) and length in all other suits - it will double at the next turn to bid
- redouble, the parking lot redouble, asks partner to make the cheapest bid unless considerable extras, and then, at the next turn to bid:

- Pass, non-jump bids, game bids are to play
- Jump bids below game are natural invites
- Even if a bid is in an opponent's suit, it is natural

Parking lot redoubles are not ideal, but at least it keeps a non-expert partnership from driving over a cliff.


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