Source: THIS is the hand that launched the writing of this article: 9  K Q 10 7 6 3  Q 10 9  A 10 7 You open 1 as West and the bidding proceeds:
West North East South
1 Double Redouble 1
2 2 Pass Pass
3 Pass 5 Pass

First consider your own action then read on….

I polled three of Australia’s most highly regarded players, two who happen to be New Zealanders, Paul Marston and Ashley Bach and a McCutcheon trophy winner Ralph Parker, a South Australian long-time resident of Queensland. There was a remarkable similarity in their replies. All three stated that they hated the way the auction had developed. Two said simply that they hated redouble auctions. All appeared to accuse their then unknown partner, me, of subjecting them to torture but all reached the same conclusion. Whatever partner’s earlier actions may have meant, and they did not speculate, the question was clear, “Do you have a spade control? If you do, bid 6.” They unanimously did and they were right. In a well tuned partnership, to bid 7with a void would be a very reasonable action. Make the opponents pay for bidding in your auction. This was my hand:   J 8 2  A J 5  A K J 7 3  Q 6 I realised, when I passed 2that there might be some doubt in my partner’s mind whether or not my bid was forcing. But I felt quite sure that no one could possibly allow the bidding to subside with the opponents settling comfortably in a freely bid 2following my redouble. When my partner bid hearts for the third time, I felt reasonably confident that he could be relied upon to hold the KQ and theA. That is, after all, only 9 points and he has shown no spade strength. If he did not hold the Q, the bidding surely placed it with North. My partner would hold at most two spades, but did he hold just one? My 5 meant exactly what my three correspondents thought it meant; “I am satisfied that we can make twelve tricks if you have second round control of the opponents’ suit.” My BBO partner was not so trusting, his slightly flawed analysis was this, as he told me, “Your pass of 2S was not forcing, so you could not possibly hold enough to make your bid.” A little deeper thought and he would have realised that whatever he may have thought about my pass, and my correspondents also, I considered it unlimited and forcing and now was satisfied that I had enough to make my bid. Is the pass forcing or isn’t it? That is the key question and your own partnership is seriously handicapped if you are not in total agreement as to the answer. If a bid is forcing it is unlimited in strength. If it can be passed, it is limited. There is no such thing as the commonly mis-used description of a bid, “semi-forcing.” This simple definition encapsulates the essence of standard bidding theory in this situation. Few have actually sat down and worked it through. I will do it for them.
“Following a redouble, when partner’s bid of one of a suit is doubled, passes are forcing and doubles are for penalty.”
It follows that our side will play the hand or the opponents will play doubled. It also follows, that redouble is not a bid to be lightly made. The “standard” requirement of 10+ high card points is barely sufficient, particularly as the minimum high-card strength requirement for an opening bid is gradually diminishing across the bridge playing community. Anything less than 10 high-card points is not enough. As well, this definition makes for great economy of bidding space. You do not have to, at a later turn, make a space-consuming and essentially meaningless cue bid just to be sure partner bids again. The most economical action of all, pass, does so. There can be no doubt that when the redoubler doubles at his next turn, this is not for take-out. Pass is for take-out. Adoption of this definition will provide certainty. Standard requirement is 10+ points but my own preference is this. There is a correlation to the choice of playing two over one as an unequivocal game force or playing a number of continuations as not forcing. I opt for simplicity. To redouble shows 12+ high-card points with any shape. Include as well the 10-12 point three-card of partner’s major, opener can pass a simple raise at the next turn. If you drop “Better Minor” in favour of opening 1 on the dead balanced shapes, these point ranges apply opposite 1D as well. Opposite 1, or a Better Minor 1D, the requirement is 12+ with the redoubler free to sign off in a part score, only if the rebid is 1NT. This style accommodates lighter opening bids. Clearly if your partnership’s opening bids are sound, 12+ is an absolute game-force. Regardless of what minimum point count requirement you choose to adopt for your redouble, new suit bids, even at the one-level, are limited and not forcing. As when making a new-suit response as a passed hand, the usual entreaty applies, be careful when making a new-suit bid with support for partner’s suit. You may be left to play there. A raise denies five, but not four, cards in a higher ranking suit. There are some additional considerations.
  • A redouble does not promise or deny a fit, but should deny a 4+ card fit. With a big fit it is better not to let the opponents get together.
  • With 4+ card support, use 2NT to show a 4+ card balanced raise to three or better. With an unbalanced hand, jump to four with a maximum of one ace or two kings, with more, splinter.
Somewhat to my surprise, I found that this definition is not widely adopted. Paul Marston, who actively does not like it, conducted his own poll of seven local pros. Unanimously they agreed that my pass of 2S was not forcing. Sadly none presented a supporting argument. My key point is this, it will be extremely rare that the best spot for your side, having redoubled, is to allow the opponents to play undoubled in their chosen spot. So it is (far) better to adopt the space-economical agreement that pass is forcing. If you cannot double, pass, and if your partner’s hand is quite unsuitable for a double, he will bid on. No one should ever be making a low-level double with 0, 1 or 2 trumps. You both have an input into the final decision. A specific meaning can be attached to the presently almost meaningless cue-bid, and there can be no doubt whatsoever that when your partner doubles the opponent’s bid, it is penalty. There are many who play it as take-out.