Before you read, cover up the scores below. (Or at least, don’t peek!) I’m going to ask you a question and it will be more fun if you don’t know the results beforehand.
There are a few different types of redoubles that occasionally occur during the course of a bridge session. One is the support redouble, a very reasonable bid. There is the rescue redouble, another very reasonable bid. Every now and then you get the phantom redouble. This bid is usually made out of desperation in order to prod the opponents into running. It rarely works, but it’s a lot of fun when it does. And, of course, there’s the business redouble. I have found that this bid is usually ill-conceived. Every now and then you hear about a redouble that makes you wonder. Is it a good bid? Is it a bad bid? No, when I say “wonder,” I’m referring to the, “What in the (insert your favorite expletive) were you thinking?!” redouble. For the board I’m about to describe, I could give you all the hands, but I’m not sure that would help. I will, however, give you the bidding. This deal took place during the open pairs at a Wisconsin sectional.
Matchpoints with neither side vulnerable, South opened 2♥. I (West) passed. North, after a little thought, bid 6♥. East (my partner) bid 6♠. South, with little hesitation, now bid 7♥! I doubled, North passed and East passed. South, with no hesitation this time, redoubled! I passed. North passed, and my partner went into the tank. After a fair amount of hesitation on his part, he bid 7♠! South doubled and that bid was mercifully passed out.
Before checking out the scores below…don’t peek…which bid do you believe was the worst? And, yes, I remember that I haven’t given you the cards that each player held. Honestly, do you really think that would help? In this auction?? OK, maybe, but I think it’s more fun to guess without knowing.
Analysis: The hands, of course, were obviously very distributional. The first bid to come into question is 7♥. Who in the name of Charles Goren bids a grand slam in the dark? Not you? Ever? Well, almost not ever. But, was it the worst bid?
The next bid to compete for the title of worst call was my double of 7♥. I would imagine my double to be a message to partner, East, that the ♥A resides in my hand. Since I did not have the ♥A, I contritely apologize to my partner, the entire ACBL, and to all the bridge gods out there. I’m sure that I have since been duly punished. But, I ask you now, was it the worst call in this auction?
Now we come to the redouble. Were the opponents trying to get us to run to 7♠? Or, did they actually think that 7♥ would make? Did they think we were foolish enough not to allow 7♥ rewhacked to stand? If the redouble of 7♥ was (correctly?) made because South figured every N/S pair would bid the grand and get doubled, then I guess it might not be the worst bid. Our opponents apparently lacked the knowledge that my partner and I are extremely capable players and we don’t run just because we get scared by a silly redouble. I mean, really now, it seems to me that South’s redouble as not just over the top, but a little bit of an insult as well. We were not going to run! (At least I wasn’t going to run.) However, the question remains, was it the worst bid?
OK, you probably noticed that my partner ran. Therefore, this bid must also be given strong consideration as being the worst call. The opponents…with whom we were unfamiliar… were apparently being trusted by my partner more than I was. My partner’s seen me play. Am I one to make questionable doubles of grand slams? I guarantee you he’s never seen me whack a grand, only to have it make. So, I leave it up to you to decide. Was his bid of 7♠ reasonable? Or, was it the worst call made at the table?
Before checking out the scores, here’s what does and does not make. When 7♥ doubled came around to South in the pass-out chair, he had the golden opportunity to reach rarefied air in the world of bridge and rack up 1770! 7♥ can’t be beaten with a stick, a mace, or any weapon you choose. It is stone cold, up against the wall, and not even the greenest novice could possibly fail to garner 13 tricks. As for 7♠, it fails by four tricks with reasonable defense, though it seems an affront to inject the term “reasonable” into this story. The most tricks East can rake in are 10, and that’s only with the provision that South decides there isn’t enough time left to think during his defense. Needless to say, this was not a quick auction.
Without further ado, here are the North/South scores…all pluses.
1010, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 510, 500.
As you can see, we were the only E/W pair to declare the hand. Yes, South did indeed make a mistake on defense and we escaped for -500. South, midway through the hand, looking at dummy mind you, broke hearts and coughed up a ruff and a sluff.
Recap? We were due for a half point at -1010 when my partner opted for 7♠ and earned us a whole point! (-800 was what we should have gotten at 7♠ doubled.) We went to 0 points when South bid the cold grand. My double was inconsequential, except for inspiring South to redouble. South’s redouble was inconsequential, except for prompting my partner to run. (Back to a whole point!) South falling asleep on defense got us all the marbles.
To sum, the 18 N/S pairs who failed to reach even a small slam, still received 9.5 match points, dead average. The N/S pair that reached 6♥ got a 19 for a cold top. The only pair in the entire field to reach the cold grand slam were our opponents. For their efforts, they received 0, zilch, nada, a dead bottom.
I’ll leave it up to you as to which bid was the worst. The moral to this story? Seriously, are you kidding?
Bill Kochneff was born, raised, and resides in his home state of Iowa. He played tuba for the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra while still in high school, was a tuba major at The University of Iowa, and toured with his own country rock band. He started playing duplicate bridge in 1970. His first national was in St. Louis, partnering with Jay Baum, a past resident of Iowa City and past CEO of the ACBL. Bill played rarely between 1980 and 2010, then began to hit the tables more frequently after retirement from teaching. Known around bridge circles by his nickname of Nifty, he has always enjoyed writing about bridge, believing that humor is more enjoyable to read than the serious side of the game.