Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Can you comment on the best method to use after your partner doubles a minor suit, and the next hand redoubles? The problem I had was what to do with five spades and nine points. Normally I would jump to two spades, but I have been told that after a redouble this would be more about shape than high cards. Any comments?

Scooping the Pool, Muncie, Ind.

You are correct in assuming that after the redouble a jump is more commonly played these days as a long suit but in the range 5-9. With a better hand, pass initially and bid or jump later. So pass and plan to back in to show real values.

I am puzzled by the situation where one player misbids because he has forgotten the meaning of a bid, or has not seen or remembered the auction properly. His partner explains what he should have – which will not coincide with his actual holding. Is the culprit obliged to correct the explanation?

Mea Culpa, Albuquerque, N.M.

In situations of this sort you are only obliged to tell your opponents what your partnership agreements are. So if you overcall two no-trump, unusual, because you missed the opening bid, and actually have 21 points, your opponents are only entitled to know that your call shows the minors.

You recently wrote about Maximal Doubles, where when your side has agreed a fit and the opponents compete to one under your side’s trump fit, double is an unspecified game-try. But could you clarify whether after such a double your partner is obliged to take it out? Or could the double be left in with either a balanced hand or trump tricks? If so, should the double show extra high cards not shape?

Clearing Up, Grand Junction, Colo.

You have it exactly right; the double can be passed, though it rarely is. Let’s say you bid and raise spades, they compete in hearts. A double by you would be more about points than shape, so if you simply have extra shape, bid three or four spades.

Can you tell me what you would do with the following hand? Holding ♠ Q-9-6-3, A, K-J-2, ♣ A-10-7-6-3, I opened one club and heard one heart on my left, over which my partner bid two diamonds; what should I do next?

Second Hand Rose, Los Angeles, Calif.

I would bid two spades now. I’m going to go to game here, and will raise diamonds later. Three diamonds would be my call with a queen less — or make the heart ace the king. I assume we play negative doubles so I’m not bidding spades to hope to play there, but more to show my shape. I have not ruled out trying for slam further down the road… maybe.

I understand Bergen Raises have somewhat fallen out of favor. What is the primary reason for that? What are the preferred ways for responder to bid hands with four trumps that range in strength from weak to invitational?

Mike the Martian, Clarksburg, Md.

Bergen Raises may help determine the best contract for the opening side, but the artificial call lets the opponents double, or even intervene with more confidence because they know their side has a fit too. And you lose the natural three-level calls, while risking getting higher than you need. The idea of using the three-level bids as intermediate hands with three or four trump, with the jump raise as mixed (6-9 maybe) would be a reasonable compromise, perhaps.

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Peter PengJuly 24th, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Dear Bobby or any reader

On the question about Maximal Doubles, by Clearing Up, I read and re-read and still could not understand
the question and so not the answer.
I think the problem is I do not understand what are Maximal Doubles.
Can you provide an example of the question.


Peter PengJuly 24th, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Dear Bobby or any reader

I have a little problem going from MP to IMP game. I do much better on MP games.

Is there a mind switch that changes gear when you are playing one type of game and the other type…


Peter PengJuly 24th, 2016 at 5:24 pm

hi Bobby

what is the address for sending questions to the Sunday questions


bobbywolffJuly 24th, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Hi Peter,

Question #1 on Maximal doubles:

When the opponents are competing against each other with touching suits (S&H, H&D, and D&C) and the bidding, for example goes around the table: 1S 2H 2S 3H if the 1S bidder now doubles it is artificial (not for penalties) but invites partner to bid game if he has more than he might have. However if instead of doubling he merely bids 3S then he is not inviting partner to bid more, only hoping to buy the hand at 3S’s or instead hoping to set 4Hs if they now bid it. Hence the word Maximal double, meaning bid game if you have a little extra.

Question #2:

Yes, there is a marked difference between matchpoint bridge (aka duplicate bridge) and IMPs usually played team vs. team (each with 4 players per team) with the loser KOed and the winner going further.

That difference is centered around the principle that IMPs features amount of gain (IOW, hoping to gain double digit numbers 10+ instead of just 1-3 IMPs) while matchpoints features frequency of gain (one overtrick sometimes makes a great deal of difference in the matchpoint result, sometimes a top if everyone else (at other tables are making one trick less). At IMPs accurate game and slam bidding takes on a great significance while at matchpoints, overtricks, contract trick or not, becomes more important to get high scores.

If anything while IMP bridge (or rubber which is similar to IMPs) concentrate on hoping to make one’s contract and not to worry much about overtricks, but at matchpoints (a more difficult game but also including a huge luck factor) is like trench warfare, the survival depending on every trick gathered as opposed to just bidding and playing well and insuring, if possible, your contracts when you become declarer.

My email address for the Sunday column is:

And now you know! but only if I am giving good advice, which I hope I am.

ClarksburgJuly 24th, 2016 at 7:55 pm

The questions / answers provided here have given me, for one, a more complete grasp of what the Maximal Double conveys to Partner, i.e.something extra… more likely extra points than extra shape.

As a minor side point, I find that there are perhaps too many names for Doubles. In this case, does the term “maximal” mean anything more than the specific auction context, i.e. they bid one under our agreed suit.
Is it in effect just a special case of Card-showing / Optional Double, so Partner, even if never having heard the term,should know the meaning ?

bobbywolffJuly 24th, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Some poet once asked, “What’s in a name”? and then went off in a romantic mood.

Names for bridge conventions only emphasize the author’s name (and that being far less than 100% accurate) and sometimes referring to a similar better known artificial bid like Redwood, Super Gerber and two way Stayman or should we say Rapee?

However when 5NT is correctly interpreted as a Grand Slam force it, of course suggests that it would become one, if the askee has two of the three top honors in the known trump suit.

However a forcing club, forcing 1NT response, 2 over 1 game force, at least hint at the result of using it, but make no explanation of how or why. Then we get to generic terms, Multi, Acol, Neopolitan, Astro, Mosquito, Standard something or other, which leads us to Snapdragon, Maximal and even dark sounding names like Suction and Fertilizer, aka the bid which shows a Yarborough when playing a strong pass system.

Looking on the brighter side, Maximal probably only meant trying to differentiate between competitive and an invitation, but, no doubt, unless one is firmly ensconced in the bridge world, many of these terms seems like 2 cave men conversing thousands of years ago.

bryanJuly 25th, 2016 at 2:27 pm

On the mistaken information question, I have played that if partner fails to alert or gives a bad answer to a bid question, I stay silent and do not modify future bids. If we get the contract, before defense leads I stop them and give correct info.

However, I am unsure of what to do if I am on defense. Declarer should know the info, but I do not want to give extra info to partner. Example, his other partner plays weak no trump and he gave the wrong answer about my opening 1 nt point range.

bobbywolffJuly 25th, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Hi Bryan,

Although this may sound a trace overkill or instead, misinformed, but my take is this.

When on defense, the defender upon hearing a wrong explanation from partner about the meaning of your bid, should almost never speak up for fear of helping his own defense rather than informing his opponents of what might be important information that he was definitely entitled to know.

However, rather than just sitting there and ponder, rise to the occasion and, if possible try and decide what you, if, that declarer, want to know, under the approximately same situation this declarer was now placed. Then as honestly as possible (if for no other reason than to mollify your opponent’s dilemma) take the initiative by updating your opponent. Even if asking your partner to leave the table was possible*, but trying to jump through hoops to restore the status quo.

The above could and would be thought of by me is the definition of Active Ethics, a definition which sometimes appears off limits to many to just define, much less achieve.

*Often the idea of sending partner away could alert him, at the very least, of what you were going to privately disclose, away from his earshot and, if so, that needs to be under consideration. However, your intentions might help you, by a thoughtful TD, to reduce a possible penalty he might otherwise inflict.