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Re-Opening Double

From David Schokman

The question about the different types of doubles have been discussed, ad nauseam, by many columnists. I will not insult your intelligence by further elucidating something that I have mercilessly flogged in many columns over four decades. However, what has left me totally confused is the reluctance on many bridge players to use the most underused, and profitable one of them all. I refer to the RE-OPENING double. In fact, I am totally at a loss to comprehend as to why so many bridge players even seem to consider it an anathema, a practice to be exorcised from their bridge knowledge base and dictionary. I could go on but let me show you the perfect example from a 28 table event played just last week (March 2021).

South Deals
Both Vul
K J 10 7 4
A J 6
Q 9 4 2
A Q 8 6 3 2
9 5 3 2
A 3
8 7 4
K 10 7 5
7 6 5 4 3
K Q 10
J 8 6
K Q J 10 9 2

No problems here. South opens with a bid of 1C. You are west and want to bid. What is your choice? There will be people who would bid 1S, while others would choose to bid 2S, to show their six card suit. What is my advice? On this deal, because of the equal vulnerability I would choose 1S. If they were vulnerable, and we were not, I would have had no hesitation in bidding 2S, even though it really is quite a nice hand with possibilities if there is a fit with partner. There is the other alternative and that there will be no fit, and the distribution of cards are what you can see in the diagram. It could not be worse for you. We are choosing to bid the safer option of 1S, and you move to the north seat. West has taken/stolen your bid and there is nothing that you can do about it, (as you play negative doubles) so your only option is to pass. East has become irrelevant. Back to south, and what is your option now? Ask yourself some questions. Why has partner passed? She is either weak or has values that cannot be expressed in any bid made. The other option to consider is that wests bid was also limited and why did east not join the party? So you have to assume that whenever you have two, or less cards, in the opponents bid suit, that partner has some values and cannot bid as you do use negative doubles. So south has only one bid available and that is the double. When it comebacks to north she is just going to convert this re-opening double into a penalty double. This, and low level penalty doubles are the greatest sources of untapped bridge wealth and sadly often goes un-recognized by large parts of the bridge playing population.

There were 28 tables in play and from what I can see that only one player, Cynthia Belonogoff, made a re-opening double, the rest of them just bid 2C, with the final contact being 3NT, making 10, 11 or 12 tricks (Poor defence). Her partner said that he was going to pass 1D - doubled - but then west made it a little easier by bidding 2S which was doubled for minus 1100, for a clear top. 1S doubled would have produced a top too.

The results showed that some bridge players have a benevolent streak in them as 3H and also 3S remained undoubled, both pairs receiving the bottom score that they deserved.

Cynthia made it easy for her partner in defence. On the ace of clubs lead she dropped the king, which said, if you have lead problems shift to the higher ranked suit. The ace of hearts was played next, followed by the knave making it so easy for the defence. West was blameless and very unlucky. The only people who will have to say "Mea Culpa" are all those who sat in the south position who did not re-open the bidding with a double.

So remember that the Takeout Double should be an essential part of your bridge armoury as it is often more profitable that you could ever expect, or even hope that it will be.


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