Mike's Advice


What to do when your RHO doubles your partner’s strong notrump opening bid

You have a weak one-suited hand.

Your partner opens with 1NT, strong, and your RHO doubles. What do you do?

The first thing you should do is find out what that double shows. It may be part of a convention and it may be for penalty. According to what they are doing, you better have methods that cater to all meanings.

IF THE DOUBLE IS ARTIFICIAL. Many players double 1NT to show a one-suited hand. The idea is that their partner will bid 2♣ and the doubler will then show his suit. Bidding after one of these artificial doubles is pretty easy. Just ignore it and use your normal bidding structure. Stayman, Jacoby, Texas, and other treatments work fine here.

IF THE DOUBLE IS PENALTY. When your RHO doubles 1NT for penalty, it is likely that you do not have much of a hand. You will seldom have enough points that you want to redouble and play it there. The majority of the time you will pass and partner will do whatever he feels like. Usually he will pass but if he has a good suit and is worried about playing in 1NTX, he can run to his suit.

The kind of hand that you may wish to bid with will be weak, and you will want to find a home other than 1NT. Here are some hands to show you the issues.

In this issue, I will discuss what to do when they make a penalty double of 1NT and you have a weak hand with just one suit. In the following examples, North’s double is business, typically showing a good balanced hand but perhaps a good suit. They won’t tell you what they have so you have to look at your hand and make a decision.

West North East South
1NT Dbl ?

RULE — If you have a weak hand with one suit, redouble. This instructs your partner to bid 2♣. Here, barring more bidding from the opponents, is how the bidding continues.

West North East South
1NT Dbl Redbl Pass
2♣ Pass ?

♠ 8
7 4 3
9 6 4
♣ Q 10 8 7 5 3

Pass. When you pass 2♣, you show that your hand is based on clubs and only clubs. You usually have five clubs but six is possible.

♠ 6 3
8 7 3
J 10 9 6 3
♣ 10 4 2

Playing in diamonds rates to be an improvement on notrump. The way to play in diamonds is to redouble, forcing partner to bid clubs. You will then bid 2, which tells partner you want to play in diamonds and nowhere else.

♠ J 7 6 3
9 8 3
Q 7
♣ 10 8 7 3

West North East South
1NT Dbl ?

With a relatively balanced hand, you should pass and hope nothing terrible happens. This is not a good hand but it is better than some hands you might have.

♠ 10 8 7 3
J 8 7 3 2
♣ J 10 4

Here you have a 5-4 hand, which means that playing in a suit rates to be best. How can you find your best contract? I will discuss that next week.

Remember this rare exception.

West North East South
1NT Dbl Redbl Pass
2 Pass ?

You asked partner to bid 2♣ and he bid 2. What’s up? In this case your partner is ignoring your instructions. The reason is that he has a good diamond suit that he wants to play in instead of hearing about your suit. If he does this, you usually pass and let him have it. Only if you have a higher-ranking six card suit to bid would you overrule your partner’s bid.

Expert Trick

If you redouble and partner bids 2♣ and gets doubled there, you have a trick that you better never forget.

West North East South
1NT Dbl Redbl Pass
2♣ Dbl ?

When 2♣ is doubled, you can use this trick to make sure your partner plays the hand.

  • Pass. You have clubs.
  • Redouble. Transfer to diamonds.
  • 2. Transfer to hearts.
  • 2. Transfer to spades.

You can see that there is zero room to forget this one. The cost for failure will be enormous. Use this at your own risk.

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