2

With only us vulnerable at matchpoints, partner (South) dealt and bid one diamond. If West had passed, I would have bid one spade (one over one) with ♠ JT83 ♡ Q943 ♢J87 ♣ Q2. For this, I have minimum values.

But West overcalled with one heart. I (North) still bid one spade, which partner took, perhaps reasonably, for my having five spades. (See last paragraph.)

An alternative bid to show four spades might be a negative double. But my understanding is that this bid means "I don't like your suit and I don't want to defend the opponents' suit; i.e. I would prefer to play in one of the black suits, not red." But that's not the case, because I don't mind defending hearts or being dummy in diamonds. Also, I'm not sure that that my six high card points are adequate for a negative double, so I don't like this bid.

Should I have made a negative double despite my misgivings? Or was there a better call, perhaps "pass," since I don't mind defending a heart contract?

East bid two hearts, partner raised to two spades, West bid three hearts, and partner competed to three spades with minimum value: ♠ Q52 ♡ T ♢AQT94 ♣ AT93. We went down two and got a bottom. We would have gotten an average score by letting the opponents play three hearts, and a top score if our opponents had been kind enough to let us play in two spades (down one). Did my one spade bid wrongly encourage partner to go to three spades?

5
  • Just make a Negative Double. If partner bids 2 clubs preference back to 2 diamonds, as Partner is at least 4-4 in those suits. If Partner bids 1 spade, 2 diamonds, or 1 no trump just pass. This is easily the most descriptive call available, and poses no likely downstream problems. The 1 spade should always show something better than a negative double, be it a fifth spade or an extra queen. Jun 7, 2023 at 11:00
  • 1
    @ForgetIwaseverhere: So a negative double is weaker, not stronger than a one over one bid. I had not realized this. And if my hand had been just a bit weaker would "pass" have been the appropriate call?
    – Tom Au
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:17
  • Correct - hence, I suspect, why the name Negative Double is more popular than the original Sputnik Double. Jun 7, 2023 at 23:40
  • 1
    Sorry, you're right -- I was mistaken. I meant I've never seen an agreement that bidding 1 spade here included hands with only four spades.
    – ruds
    Jun 10, 2023 at 20:05
  • @ruds: Good. That's what I figured you meant. I flagged your first comment above as no longer needed, and deleted my comment directly above. Jun 10, 2023 at 21:37

2 Answers 2

4

If you take an action with this hand, double is the correct action. Pass is also acceptable, but I think it would be a very conservative approach and would expect most of the field to act. In this circumstance, the Negative Double is treated by most North American pairs as showing exactly 4 spades and 6 or more points, while a bid of one spade promises 5+ spades and 6 or more points.

Note that the negative double is not limited, contra some of the answers and comments on this question; that is an agreement that I have never seen before. However, this is a bit of a special case auction: partner opened one of a minor and opponents overcalled one heart specifically.

If partner opens 1C and RHO overcalls 1D, your negative double shows 4-4 in the majors and a bid of one of the majors shows 4+ cards in that suit and 6+ points. If partner opens 1 of a minor and RHO overcalls 1S, your 2H response shows 5+ hearts and extras (say 10+ points), so the negative double has to cover heart oriented hands that don't fit this rubric: all responses with 4 hearts, and hands with 5+ hearts and say 7-9 points.

4
  • Perhaps my comment was unclear. I didn't mean that it was limited at the top end, but rather that it reached lower than a new suit call. I've known very, very, good players who aggressively bid 1 spade in these auctions; but never with both a minimum response and just 4 spade cards. Their thinking was that, occasionally and often enough, one got to bury opponents spade suit this way. I've never been quite that aggressive myself. The fifth spade in addition to 6 points does of course comprise an extra value. Jun 10, 2023 at 19:15
  • I see. I would still argue that this is not a standard agreement in North America, and not something I would mention in response to a question about the basics of the negative double, but I don't doubt that there are some experts who intentionally widen their 1S to pick off opponents' suit.
    – ruds
    Jun 10, 2023 at 20:09
  • @ForgetIwaseverhere: I use a "grid" in making my bidding choices. Here, ideally, one would have five spades and 8+ points for a one spade call. Five spades and 6 points might work, as might four spades and 8+ points. But four spades and 6 points doesn't work because it is a double minimum or "saddle point" on the grid.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 11, 2023 at 7:07
  • 1
    I think that's one approach. My sense is that the standard is X = 4 spades, 1S = 5 spades, regardless of strength, because degree of fit is more important than strength for making decisions in a highly competitive auction. If opponents stay out of the auction after bidding 1H, our side will have opportunities to differentiate strength for a game/partscore decision.
    – ruds
    Jun 11, 2023 at 15:38
1

Understand that the issue is that your hand is very borderline for a response of any kind.

If the bidding had been one diamond, pass, to you, you had barely enough for a "one over one" bid of one spade. With West having overcalled one heart, there is no reason for you to make a "free" bid of one spade, because the overcall gave partner a chance to speak again. For a "free" bid, you should have either five spades with your six high card points, or 8-9 points with four spades, as Forget pointed out in a comment.

Your hand is, however, barely strong enough for a call, with that being "double" (negative). That hints at your four cards in the unbid major, and promises the six high card points (but no more) that you actually have. Note that the double does not raise the bidding level. With a hand any weaker, you should pass.

1
  • 1
    Bidding 1S in this situation with 4 spades and any number of points is not a standard agreement in North America.
    – ruds
    Jun 10, 2023 at 15:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .