District 6
Jane Farthing, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Dec/JanArticle by Steve RobinsonApr/May
ArticlesTo the Rescue? (Feb/Mar 2007)

I asked my expert panel the following: At equal vulnerability, LHO opens 1, partner overcalls 1, and the normal happens. It goes Pass – Pass – Double – Pass -- Pass back to you. Assuming you don't have a six-card suit or a solid five-card suit, when do you sit and when do you run? Would you run withxQxxxxxxxQxxx? If you wouldn't what are the minimum changes you would make to run?


This is a guessing game. On bad days you run when partner has the good suit or sit when he has garbage spades.


Zeke Jabbour: In my case, it depends on what partner holds. If partner held AJ1098xAxKxxxx, I would run. But if partner held four spades to the AKJ and little else, I would probably sit and go down four or five. [Zeke is bemoaning his usual luck!] The last time I redoubled that auction, it was against a world champion who became a bit nervous with the redouble since it was IMPs. My partner sat in disgust and he made it! However, consistency thou art a jewel, and against competent opponents, on the theory that they've probably already got us nailed, I would be likely to run with a little more texture-- maybe a couple of tens or jacks--in the runout suits. With any quick tricks, I would be inclined to sit and hope for a favorable result.


Some experts always run since your RHO probably has you in buried in spades. If you’re going to run, how do you get to your best possible spot? First of all, if you have your own suit, bid it. Secondly, you have to be willing to play in any suit undoubled. Thirdly, all redoubles are asking partner to choose another strain. If the advancer has hearts and diamonds bid 2. When and if 2 gets doubled, redouble with better hearts, bid 2 with better diamonds. If the 1-overcaller has length in hearts and diamonds, he can use the same methods. With hearts and clubs, diamonds and clubs, or a three-suited hand, you need strong understandings and possibly some guessing.


Allan Falk: I believe in the Landen rule--it's always right to run!


Gary Cohler: Almost always run. With 2-3-4-4 would be hard to run but with a stiff spade, always, and with 2-2-4-5 always.


Kit Woolsey: As a general rule, I would run with a singleton spade and sit with a doubleton spade. On the sample hand you give, I would definitely run.  When two people think we are going down and I'm one of them, it is time to get out of the frying pan.


Bob Hamman: My inclination is to get on my bicycle with a singleton or void.


Steve Beatty: I would run with this hand.


Jill Meyers: Would run every time. I'm 4-4 in other three suits and I believe my RHO .


Billy Pollack: When the opponents sit at the one-level, they tend to have a serious stack,  (usually five), with good texture, so I readily look for an exit. I would redouble with the example you give, as a reasonable minimum (4+4+ with honors in both suits).


Mel Colchamiro: By philosophy, I'm a runner. When they seem to have us, I look for greener pastures. With the example hand I would redouble for takeout. I might change my mind if partner is one who will "pre-run" after the double by bidding another suit before the ax falls. If philosophically partner tends to do that but doesn't, no fit will likely be better so I'd stay gotten.


Kerry Sanborn: I would tend not to sit for the penalty in this auction. Given any excuse, I would try to find a better spot. The opponents usually have us when they can pass for penalties at the one-level. I would redouble for rescue when I have 4-4 in the unbid suits, and would bid 1NT with four-card support for any of the three other suits (only after the 1 overcall, since it removes a potential playing spot over any other overcall) With a "real" 1NT bid, I would already have responded to the 1 on the previous round. I would sit for the double when I only have three in one of the unbid suits and not a five-card holding in the remaining suit, or with a good five cards in LHO’s opening-bid suit. I would normally sit out the double with an honor in spades and no better plan.


Bart Bramley: Usually they have you nailed. If I’m void in spades I’m almost certainly bailing. With a singleton I’m likely to bail, but I might not if my pattern is awkward, e.g., 1=5=4=3, especially if my interiors are weak in my long suit(s). With a doubleton I’ll usually sit; my LHO probably has at most a singleton, so he won’t be able to lead through partner more than once. Vulnerability matters. If we are vulnerable partner’s suit quality is more reliable, so I’m less likely to run. Form of the game matters.  I’m more likely to run at matchpoints, where turning -500 into -1100 doesn’t cost that much. At IMPs I may just take my lumps and hope that my teammates defend better than my opponents. Having finely tuned agreements would help. If I can use an immediate redouble and 1NT-followed-by-redouble to distinguish different lengths in the other suits I would be more likely to run.


Partner’s overcalling style makes a difference. If he could have 65432, then you’d better run like a bunny.


Jon Wittes: If I have at least four-card support for two other suits, I would consider running. The theory is, you know spades are breaking badly and are badly placed for your side. Even if you have only a 4-3 fit elsewhere, the suit may be breaking much better, and there is always the possibility you won't be doubled, especially if the opponents are 3-3 in the suit. Who knows, you may even find an eight-card fit! Of course, on the negative side, you're going to have to contract for eight tricks instead of seven, and, on occasion, partner actually has a decent six-card suit. But in the overall scheme of things, you rate to be in a bad spot in 1 doubled, and likely will improve the contract by running. 


Eddie Wold: A lot depends whether the diamond is precision style or not. Assuming a standard 1 opener, I now think it is right to run anytime that you have nine cards in the two unbid suits and fewer than two cards in the spade suit. Nothing is perfect but this is a fairly simple rule that I believe handles most situations. It is also much more favorable to have five clubs than five hearts because the 1-overcaller is more likely to have a secondary club suit than a secondary heart suit (Michaels and takeout double considerations). Also when partner is 3-3 in hearts and clubs you will land in clubs which is obviously better so with xxxxxxxxxxxxx, I redouble, and with xxxxxxxxxxxxx, I sit; but add some high cards and spot cards I would run with the former distribution. Running with 1-4-4-4 distribution is much more tricky but I think it is right if you had a marginal 1NT response that you did not make on the previous round of bidding--not with the example hand.


Some experts are conservative in running.


Dave Berkowitz: I would never run with the above 1-4-4-4 pattern. If I thought I had a five-card suit that could be useless to partner, xxxxxxxxKQJ9x I would bid it, but any random 5-4, say four HCP in my suits I would not run. I would need 5-5, and then it would need to be softish, maybe Q10xxx, and J10xxx. I’d also like to know who my opponents are.


Ralph Katz: Vulnerable I probably would sit it out unless 1NT look best. Favorable you might also sit if you have a weak hand since partner might go for less than their 3NT. Non-vulnerable with 5-4 in the unbid suits or a notrump looking hand I would always run. The only time I would run with 4-4 is if my RHO got a whiplash when they saw my partner's 1 bid. 


With favorable vulnerability you might sit more often since partner needs to take only four tricks to beat the opponent’s game score.


Carol Simon: I would NEVER consider running on the example hand.  I would run if I had a likely chance of success of finding an eight-card fit at the two-level, so obviously, I would rescue with any hand that was 5-5 in the rounded suits, regardless of honor strength. Without such a favorable holding a hand such as xQxxxxxxQJ10xx would be my minimum candidate for a bailout.


Jeff Rubens: Under what I think the conditions mean, I would not run with a doubleton, or perhaps with an honor, in partner's suit, with five-four, or with 1-4-4-4. With 0-5-5-3 or 0-5-4-4, and maybe 5-5-2-1 depending on texture, I would tend to run if I could show the suits (including opener's, which is usually a more attractive rescue than the unbid suits).


Bobby Wolff: You are bringing up an area that is all judgment and, at least to me, has a lot to do with who your opponents are. Against conservative opponents I would always tend to run with a redouble. Against aggressive opponents I would tend to pass, hoping RHO has left it in with a borderline hand. You, as usual, have picked a hand that, of course, is able to fly to any other suit, in case partner has a full or even a semi-two suiter, but also a hand, where if partner has only a sound one-level overcall and suit, you are better off leaving him alone. It should be said here, although it goes without saying, that ethical pairs are a full step behind others in this type of situation where any apparent indecision by the 1-overcaller, after he is doubled on his right, could, but obviously shouldn't, influence his partner's decision.  Summing up, it is impossible to always be right in this very tough area, and my advice is only worth something when one gets lucky.


Barry Rigal: Would not run here. With a void spade I'd run. With 1x3x running is possible. For example, xQxxxxxxQJxxx.


Larry Cohen: I am more likely to run at matchpoints, where we are already booked for a bad score, so I can't make it much worse. At IMPs, I usually just tend to take my medicine and presume it will go the same way at the other table and maybe my partner can play a trick better. Also, it depends on who your partner is. Facing a good declarer, I am more likely to pass. If playing with a shaky declarer, I am more likely to run.


If you think your partner will get unnerved playing 1 doubled with a bad split, you’d do better running.


David Bird: I wouldn't dream of running on this hand, or anything close to it! There is no reason at all to expect a 4-4 fit in clubs or hearts and we would be playing one level higher, too (where you need to make TWO tricks more to show a profit, as Reese pointed out). Make the diamonds KJxx and I might try 1NT but even that could be a mistake.


Marty Bergen : I run more often at match points. Would not run with 1-4-4-4. Would run at match points with 5-4 in unbid suits.


Grant Baze: There is no 4-4-4-1 where I would run. With four hearts and five clubs and sufficient suit quality I would bid 1NT then run to 2; with five hearts and four clubs I would run to 1NT and then redouble. An immediate redouble would show 5-5 in the two unbid suits. Suit quality for the 4-5 patterns would have to be KQxx and J10xxx or some such. With a zero count I would always pass. There are also 1-3-4-5 hands with four cards in the opened suit in which the option is to run to the five-card suit. For that, QJ98x is "solid" enough, although no guarantee of success. In general, I think the first instinct of responder should be not to run. There should be an excuse to run other than the fear of what is going to happen to you at the one-level doubled.


Fred Hamilton: I usually brave it out, as the least of evils, since there is no way to know if a better spot is available. I would need to be 5-5 in the unbid suits to run with a redouble, or a decent five-card suit to run into. Often the action has been the same at the other table (s) so hope partner plays it to best advantage and holds the damage to a minimum.


Joe Kivel: I would redouble if I had two places to go to. Eg., xQ10xxxxxQ10xxx. Otherwise I would take my medicine. If the bidding went 1 - 1- Pass- Pass - Double and I had a singleton heart and 4-1-3-5 I'd redouble, but to go to two-level, it would have to play two tricks better to make it worthwhile.


If you go to the two-level, your escape suit must play two tricks better.


Marinesa Letizia: I almost never run unless I have a six-card suit or a solid five-card suit. I wouldn’t run with xQxxxxxxxQxxx as partner often doesn't have a side four-card suit, or they may have bid it over the double, if they think that LHO has trapped.


As you can see, half the experts run whenever possible and half sit unless obvious. If partner has AKJ986xAKxxxx, he could easily take seven tricks. If he has Q5432KxxxQJxxx he’d be lucky to take four tricks. Therefore with aggressive partners run, with conservative partners pass. At matchpoints if you go for more than the value of their game you get a zero. The opponents know that and probably won’t make frivolous passes. At IMPs, however, it is a small loss. Run more often at matchpoints.
Don Berman, Web Master.