With only us vulnerable, I dealt and passed, as did my left hand opponent. Partner opened 1 diamond, right hand opponent overcalled one spade, and I passed a second time with the following: ♠ QT42 ♡ JT732 ♢T3 ♣ Q8. Left hand opponent raised to two spades, partner passed, as did right hand opponent. This placed me in the "cut off" seat and I passed.

Partner had 20 high card points, and asked me why I didn't "balance" with my five hearts. I said that he should have doubled with his strong hand. WE got a bottom because everyone else with our cards made four or five hearts.

Partner had opened, but in third position, so he might be "light." Diamonds was his longest suit but it was not genuinely long since did not rebid it. I figured out after the hand that partner had to be short in spades (he had a singleton, but it was the ace), since both opponents and I obviously had length. I could therefore figure partner for three or four hearts (he had four), but I didn't know if he had any high cards in the suit; all his values might be in the minor suits.

Was it therefore incumbent on me to bid three hearts with my five hearts but otherwise weak hand? Or should I wait for an actual double before doing so, especially since we were vulnerable versus not?

2 Answers 2


Your initial pass was absolutely correct. An aggressive bidder might make a negative double at your second turn. But I don't think you had any reason to come in at the three level on your third turn.

Partner has to act again with 20 hcp.

  • Correct. I'd add further that it's generally agreed only a partner with shortness in the opponent's suit is to be aggressive. That's another reason why a negative double on the second round is overly risky. Commented Jun 18, 2023 at 23:54

There are times when the partner with 15 hcps (or more) should pass,and the person with 5 hcps should balance (or double). This is not one of them.

The issue is the bidder or doubler should be the one with shortness in the opponents' suit. Here you have length in the opponents' suit, which deters you from bidding. Partner also likes to bid with five card suits but here your heart suit is nothing special. Opposite say Qxx of hearts and a 12 point opener, you will go down, perhaps badly, at three hearts.

Partner should have been the one to act with 20s hcps AND the singleton spade ace. The position cried out for a double from him. You would have made three of your best suit with 25 high card points between you.

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