Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Walking the balancing tightrope

Playing with Cora, my mentee, we had a number of hands that involved balancing.  We talked about when you should balance and when you should pass it out.  My thinking was that Cora was passing hands out too frequently on auctions that went Opening Bid- Overcall – pass-pass.

During the discussion I realized that Cora thought that to balance with a double you should have the unbid major.  I used to think you needed to have good support for the unbid suits but that was a long time ago.  Here is one of the hands we talked about.

Not vulnerable against vulnerable

h KJ
Copy of d Q964 
c AQJ72


In third chair Cora opened 1c.  East overcalled 1s and it was passed to her.  Should she balance or not?  I think given that I was a passed hand passing is very reasonable, especially at imps.  And that is what she did.  We beat it one trick with decent defense so at matchpoints. We would have wanted to get +200 at matchpoints although the hand doesn’t lie well for us and we are not going to make all that much.  I was planning to pass the balancing double since my hand was:

h Q9732
Copy of d
c 43

The discussion we had went like this.  You don’t need good support for an unbid major to balance.  With a normal opening bid and no extreme shape you should double if you have shortness in the overcalled suit in this type of auction.  This suggests that partner might have a penalty double.  After this discussion we left our chat room and played a few more deals.  In a somewhat different auction I held (red on white)

h 853
Copy of d 53 
c AQJ42

Do I balance?  After the discussion I gave this hand quite a bit of thought.  I have a poor holding in the opening bidders suit (and a not great hand either) so I passed.  Since things were splitting terribly (clubs were 5-1)we might well have been doubled in 2c which goes for 500 so it turned out to be a good decision.  What about double?  Cora held

h J107
Copy of d K10972 
c K6


That would have fetched 2Copy of d which will likely suffer a similar fate.

Maybe you would have balanced.  I wouldn’t.  But mostly I was thinking about how to explain my decision.  In this type of auction I think it is more of a question about do we have a sensible place to compete than do we have a number.  So in this position with length in the opening major I would like a fourth spade or a better suit to overcall.

I wonder if this makes any sense to Cora.

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