I witnessed utter carnage at the bridge table the other week. I was watching the European Champions Cup online when a brilliantly imaginative bid by one of France’s top players, Philippe Cronier, backfired horribly (always fun to see disaster befall a professional). When the dust had settled, Cronier had gone for one of the largest penalties I’ve ever seen — 4300.
The problem came with a misunderstanding of what a ‘redouble’ by Cronier meant. He intended it to be an ‘SOS’, asking his partner to rescue him from the spot he was in. His partner — who will remain anonymous — saw it as a display of confidence. It’s a misunderstanding which happens fairly often: is a redouble a fearless battle-cry or a desperate plea for help?
What would you bid with North’s hand? You could double, but is there a way of asking your partner for his longer major? Cronier’s solution was strange but ingenious — he bid diamonds, knowing he would get doubled. He would follow this up with a redouble to ask his partner to rescue him. But his partner misunderstood: with his strong hand and long diamonds, the dollar signs must have flashed before his eyes.
So what should redouble have meant? Once you’ve been doubled (especially if you’ve been doubled into game), if you think you’re going to make your contract you should be delighted. Wanting ‘redouble’ to be a means of raking in even more bonus points is just greedy. Surely it’s far more useful to use the bid, as Cronier intended, to send out an SOS? Oh well, his partner did finally get the message when the opponents began drawing trumps!