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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                                 And Double is?

Well, we know what our double meant because we can see our hand but partner also used the double card during the auction. What were their intentions and what should we do next?

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East Deals
None Vul
W   E
K Q 7
A K Q J 9 7
6 2
West North East South
    1  Pass
1  2  Dbl 5 
Dbl Pass ?  


A fast auction, accelerated by the opponents. Your own double is a support double showing three card spade support. And partner’s double? Over to you and to what action you would now take.

We started off with a potentially good hand which improved when partner bid spades though the worth of our minor holdings was still in doubt. QJ doubleton can be worth two, one or no tricks depending on who holds the higher honours.

However, there is criticism of the auction so far, that support double:

Stephen Blackstock “5Heart-small. Very difficult, but only because of the grotesque earlier misbid. The main features of my hand are (a) a long, near self-sufficient heart suit; and (b) invitational values opposite a 1-over-1 response. The crazy support double (a feeble waste of a valuable call at the best of times) has shown neither. West would likely have known what to do had I made the straightforward jump to 3Heart-small. Now we both have to guess. My guess is that because we are not in a forcing pass sequence, West cannot pass to show values/interest and is trying to show extras without committing to the five level if I have dull minimum. The auction suggests he won’t have club values and is probably but not certainly short in clubs. If so, I hope he can judge to go on. But I fear he will think I can’t possibly hold this hand given my earlier actions.”

A support double, showing three card support for partner’s major in an auction like the above (the first three bids of it) is quite a handy convention although not liked by Stephen. However, arguably it is not the most descriptive call here. East is very happy to make hearts trumps and hopefully come home on the spades. Our partner has no idea that that is the case when they doubled 5Club-small. Hence, we need to show good hearts now.

Agreeing without criticising our support double is:

Michael Cornell “5Heart-small: I think double here shows some reasonable values. The auction is completely non forcing. Partner could have bid 1Spade-small on a 4 count in my methods.

I bid 5Heart-small which also shows a decent hand and if partner is good for his bid with a short club, I expect him to bid another one (in either major).”


It sounds that double then is similar to a double of an opponent’s 5Club-small opening, showing values rather than a trump stack.

Indeed, it would seem our partner cannot have more than one club and they certainly do not have Michael Cornell’s “4-count”. So, a “values double”. Agreeing and with an eye on the post mortem is:

Bruce Anderson “5Heart-small: Our opponents seem to have a big fit and so probably a cheap save against our game. Partner’s double is likely to be saying I have values (not necessarily a trump trick), but not the strength to bid 5Spade-small.

In other words, partner is making an action double, leaving it to me whether to bid on or to defend. Bidding 5Heart-small says I have a solid suit. As an act of contrition, I will buy the drinks if we do have 3 losers.”

However, there is another angle just when I thought I understood what that double meant:

Peter Newell “Pass: There is no guarantee of a fit. I could bid 5Heart-small to show good hearts and hand with 3 spades but there are no guarantees we can make anything at the 5 level.  I’m not that keen on bidding after partner’s double which I believe suggests defending.  My club holding and the auction suggests partner is unlikely to have many clubs, 1? Maybe 2? but I would have expected partner to pass with a hand that they felt it might be right for me to bid on.  It suggests that partner is probably short in hearts and therefore has spades and diamonds. While there is no guarantee that 5Club-small will go down, I expect it will most of the time. So particularly at Teams, I’ll pass.”

More inferred criticism of our earlier double from:

Nigel Kearney “Pass:  I'd feel better passing if I had bid 3Heart-small last time so partner would have more idea of my hand, but I can hardly pull a double at the five level with no shortage and a bunch of quacks.”

I agree with your sentiment, Nigel, but am very uneasy about Pass being best, not with such an undisclosed strong heart suit. So far, the way it has been bid , hearts could be QJxxx rather than what I held.

However, the holder of the East cards, Michael Ware, was actually very happy with his bidding and the auction up to this point:

Michael Ware “6Heart-small What is partner doubling on? Not clubs if the opponents are to be believed. My support double can still be an 11 count so partner must have reasonable values for his double. After a great deal of thought, I decided it must be two aces. Thus 6Heart-small."

and Michael had support from:

Pam Livingston "6Heart-small Partner has a singleton or void club.  It would be unusual to dive at the 5 level with less than a 10- card fit.  So, partner's double shows convertible values.  Could we have slam?  I have much more than my bidding has shown so far since the support double does not show extra values  but I only have first round control in one suit. 

Given that partner is unbalanced and has now chosen to double, they have long (5+) spades and/or a heart fit. It is reasonable to expect partner to have two aces or one ace and a void (something like Spade-smallAxxxx Heart-smallxx Diamond-smallKxxxxxxClub-small -   or Spade-smallAxxxx Heart-smallxxx Diamond-smallxxx Club-smallx - and so we likely have 12 tricks - 6 hearts 5 spades one diamond. I will offer 6Heart-small as my suit is so solid and partner may convert to 6Spade-small as they know that I have three."


That certainly showed a long strong heart suit. If West does have value, then Spade-smallA and one or both of the diamond honours seems very likely. If the king, then hopefully no club loser. Indeed, his partner, Matt Brown, seemed impressed and was not sure Michael knew about the void he held and so raised Michael to the grand. Happy Days.


East Deals
None Vul
8 6 5 2
K 9 3
A Q J 10 9
A J 9 4 3
10 6 2
A 10 8 7 4
W   E
K Q 7
A K Q J 9 7
6 2
8 5 4
6 5 2
K 8 7 5 4 3
West North East South
    1  Pass
1  2  Dbl 5 
Dbl Pass 6  Pass
7  All pass    



That was one way to reach the lay-down grand slam. (Please count your tricks. You do need to ruff one club but not two and certainly do not need to take any diamond finesse unless there had been a 5-0 spade break with all five with North. I say this because 15 out of 29 declarers who played in either 5Heart-small or 6Heart-small failed to make all 13 tricks.) Indeed, Michael and Matt's seemed the only way to reach grand slam at Rotorua's Kelly Peirse Memorial Teams.

An interesting deduction from Michael about his partner’s double. I can certainly sympathise with the raise to grand slam though I would still be just a little relieved from East’s point of view that South did not produce a cashing ace at trick 1.

Would an immediate 3Heart-small rather than the support double have worked after South’s jump to 5Club-small? I could imagine that West could now bid 6Club-small, surely a grand slam try and very likely to hold West’s key features in three side suits. However, there were that day no other takers beyond small slam.


Hard to make: hard to defeat


North Deals
Both Vul
Q 9 5
K 5 3
A 9
A K Q 7 3
W   E
A 7 3 2
A 9 7 6
Q 10 7 4
West North East South
you dummy    
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


2NT was 18-19 balanced with 3Club-small a major suit enquiry. 3Spade-small denied 4 hearts but showed 3 spades…and game was thus reached.

West led Diamond-small6 (2nd and 4ths) and your queen was taken by declarer’s king. A trump was led to West’s Spade-small10 and dummy’s queen. Plan the defence. If you do not win the first trump, declarer will play a second trump from dummy.

Richard Solomon


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