# BBO Discussion Forums: After they double partner''s control-bid - BBO Discussion Forums

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## After they double partner''s control-bid

### #1pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-11, 15:59

Italian style control-bidding is on the brink of becoming mainstream, but still off the radar of many here so I was unsure where to post this.
Looking for input here both from I/A already bidding Italian style (like me), but also from experts on the fence but skilled in evaluating possible conventions.
The question I am pondering is how to handle double of a control-bid, in particular (but not only) by the opponent who is not destined to be on lead.

I found this very useful (but also rarified and inconclusive) BW discussion from 2016 which is a good starting point. As you can see by reading, terminology is already an obstacle to understanding so let's please agree that "South" is the player who was doubled and "North" his partner. And if anyone thinks that the agreement cannot be independent of which of the two is the putative declarer then please explain why so we can stake that out also.

As often, I struggle with the post of Kit W. The first problem is merely semantic, how can South who made a control-bid in diamonds not have a diamond control? I imagine he means having only an unsupported K, but maybe not. I do like the fact that North can make it clear he holds only the Q, but I dislike that is is optional. I don't share his concern about "remaining on the same track" - nor the ease with which he and others assign a new meaning to return to trumps, a bid which may well be the logical choice in a normal continuation of the control-bidding sequence.

Barry Rigal's proposal is more or less what I was taught in Italy (I imagine handed down from Lauria). It actually worked well the very few times we were doubled so far, but I always suspected it was flawed in the situation hypothesized in the OP (South with K): if North will pass with Q (the better agreement it seems) then South with A cannot be sure to win the second trick. I also have a more fundamental doubt about whether we should be blabbering to the opponents about first-level control at all, rather than just defusing the potential K against AQ scenario and exploiting any remaining space conceded by the double to exchange some more useful extra information.

I have some ideas on how to improve on all this, but first would very much like to hear the thoughts of others.
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### #2mycroft

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Posted 2024-July-12, 12:18

I think he's being off-the-cuff (witness the multiple North-South confusions, commented later, and at least one still in), but:
• North does not have a diamond control. She passes, and then:
• If South has a SOLID diamond control (KQx or singleton or first-round), he continues;
• else signs off with Kxx or the like that is likely "no longer a control" given the (assumed lead-directing) double.
• North also has a diamond control. Then we know we're not off two quick tricks even opposite Kxx (unless the LD is a void, of course!), and continues bidding normally;
• North does not have a diamond control but does have the Q. North (may) redouble, which will make South comfortable to continue. North can choose not to do this (and, I assume, just bid "as if" he has a control) if her controls are such that South may not be able to find out/show what is needed with the XX.

I assume the last case is "Spades are trump and I have the heart card and partner would have to sign off" or "I don't have the heart card and partner would Last Train unnecessarily or 'have to guess'" (depending on agreements) or "hearts are trump, and my answer past 4 will be more useful than showing the Q" (say because it's Keycard ask, where South doesn't need to know if his Kxx is a problem, just has to answer Aces?)
My guess anyway.
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### #3pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-12, 14:47

mycroft, on 2024-July-12, 12:18, said:

I think he's being off-the-cuff (witness the multiple North-South confusions, commented later, and at least one still in), but:
• North does not have a diamond control. She passes, and then:
• If South has a SOLID diamond control (KQx or singleton or first-round), he continues;
• else signs off with Kxx or the like that is likely "no longer a control" given the (assumed lead-directing) double.
• North also has a diamond control. Then we know we're not off two quick tricks even opposite Kxx (unless the LD is a void, of course!), and continues bidding normally;
• North does not have a diamond control but does have the Q. North (may) redouble, which will make South comfortable to continue. North can choose not to do this (and, I assume, just bid "as if" he has a control) if her controls are such that South may not be able to find out/show what is needed with the XX.

I assume the last case is "Spades are trump and I have the heart card and partner would have to sign off" or "I don't have the heart card and partner would Last Train unnecessarily or 'have to guess'" (depending on agreements) or "hearts are trump, and my answer past 4 will be more useful than showing the Q" (say because it's Keycard ask, where South doesn't need to know if his Kxx is a problem, just has to answer Aces?)
My guess anyway.

Thanks
Pretty much what I did gather, but in that case I am underwhelmed.
I do like the ideas of not blabbering about first level controls and basically getting on with our job.
I don't share his fixation about staying on the same track, unless the rest of the room is bidding in the same fashion (I somehow doubt it) and he is worried that they did not get doubled.
I like his use of XX but hate it being optional: but then I am not burdened by RKCB or Last Train here, and also somewhat allergic to the idea of using table feel (or worse) to figure out who has the Ace.

But overall it's useful food for thought.
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### #4smerriman

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Posted 2024-July-12, 15:32

His comment about staying on the same track seems quite important to me. Suppose we're bidding 4 because all we're interested in is whether partner has a diamond control - if they bid 4, we're bidding Blackwood, and if they don't, we're signing off. Then 4 gets doubled, and partner redoubles.. now what? Sure, you may be able to survive by bidding above diamonds and hoping partner can take control, but it has made a mess of a simple auction.

Making something up off the top of my head here, which could be completely silly, how about:

- without a control, pass; partner can sign off with Kx, or redouble if they want you to continue control bidding up the line
- with a control, redouble if you were planning to make the *next higher* control bid
- making the next higher control bid is freed up to be whatever you like.

That way we've handled the Kx vs xx case, but never lose the ability to show information that we would have without the double.
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### #5DavidKok

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Posted 2024-July-13, 04:00

The 'queen opposite Kx' situation is resolved by standard methods as well - North (in this example) passes and South will indicate whether their holding is the ace or king. If South shows the king and North has two or more small ones it's a good moment to sign off.

The challenging case, as far as I can tell, is when North has two or more small and South has a singleton. Now the slam is not in immediate danger, and in fact looks promising with little wasted values in this suit, but standard this might be hard to diagnose. In situations where it's unclear whether a cue shows values or shortage this can be a problem, and it is not clear to me how Kit Woolsey's approach resolves this scenario.

I think the focus with getting 'back on track' is for simplicity. It is reasonable to assign a different meaning to immediate bids or pass over the double, but ideally you would not shift your entire system.

For what it's worth, I have always played exactly what Barry Rigal explained.
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### #6pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-14, 11:17

smerriman, on 2024-July-12, 15:32, said:

His comment about staying on the same track seems quite important to me. Suppose we're bidding 4 because all we're interested in is whether partner has a diamond control - if they bid 4, we're bidding Blackwood, and if they don't, we're signing off. Then 4 gets doubled, and partner redoubles.. now what? Sure, you may be able to survive by bidding above diamonds and hoping partner can take control, but it has made a mess of a simple auction.

Fair enough if that is your system and style I guess. As commented to mycroft, we have no such options, for better or worse. We would only bid 4 if we control clubs, we no longer have a Blackwood option once both are control-bidding (we get the keycards from Turbo), so if we get moved onto a new track it's swings and roundabouts whether we gain, lose or it makes no difference.
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### #7pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-14, 11:37

DavidKok, on 2024-July-13, 04:00, said:

For what it's worth, I have always played exactly what Barry Rigal explained.

Thanks. I too have always played what Barry Rigal explained, but I always had the doubt that it was flawed, in particular the choice that Pass by North shows second round control and new cuebid denies control, rather than vice versa.

DavidKok, on 2024-July-13, 04:00, said:

The 'queen opposite Kx' situation is resolved by standard methods as well - North (in this example) passes and South will indicate whether their holding is the ace or king. If South shows the king and North has two or more small ones it's a good moment to sign off.

That makes sense, but it is not what happens in the Barry Rigal method.
Here North with only Q is forced (I imagine) to cuebid on denying control, now South with an unsupported King must (I imagine) return to trumps.
Sure, North will continue only if holding the Q, but South might have had some other valid reason to return to trumps even when holding the Ace.
It just doesn't quite ring true to me.
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### #8pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-16, 08:58

Here's an out of the box provocation: a method that solves the dilemma of OP and exploits the extra space available to anticipate information about the trumps Q, instead of blabbering about first level control. It hasn't been tested or even discussed, so please point out any hole you spot as well as feeling free to criticize.

North with control of diamonds will make a normal cuebid sequence continuation. Without control he will either Redouble, which also denies both diamonds Q and trumps Q, or Pass, which affirms at least one of the two queens.

After a Pass by North, a Redouble by South invites North to continue only if holding both queens.
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### #9DavidKok

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Posted 2024-July-16, 09:12

pescetom, on 2024-July-14, 11:37, said:

Thanks. I too have always played what Barry Rigal explained, but I always had the doubt that it was flawed, in particular the choice that Pass by North shows second round control and new cuebid denies control, rather than vice versa.

That makes sense, but it is not what happens in the Barry Rigal method.
Here North with only Q is forced (I imagine) to cuebid on denying control, now South with an unsupported King must (I imagine) return to trumps.
Sure, North will continue only if holding the Q, but South might have had some other valid reason to return to trumps even when holding the Ace.
It just doesn't quite ring true to me.
You are right, sorry. I've played pass and bidding inverted compared to this - pass denies the control, bids show second round control. The idea is that if we have a control opposite a control we can move on to learning about other suits.
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### #10pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-16, 13:06

DavidKok, on 2024-July-16, 09:12, said:

You are right, sorry. I've played pass and bidding inverted compared to this - pass denies the control, bids show second round control. The idea is that if we have a control opposite a control we can move on to learning about other suits.

Thanks, that is what I always thought made more sense.
Maybe the "bids deny any control, pass shows second round control" logic was ideated as defence against interference in a suit and merely deemed adequate as a "one size fits all" against interference of double too, although I'm not sure it was even optimal against a suit in the first place.
Having ascertained that it's not my brain on the blink again, I will seek light from Barry and from the gurus in Naples
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### #11pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-19, 09:26

pescetom, on 2024-July-16, 08:58, said:

North with control of diamonds will make a normal cuebid sequence continuation. Without control he will either Redouble, which also denies both diamonds Q and trumps Q, or Pass, which affirms at least one of the two queens.

After a Pass by North, a Redouble by South invites North to continue only if holding both queens.

No thoughts or comments on this one, anybody?
It can be easily extended to handle double of a splinter or interference in a new suit instead of double, if the concern is about proliferation of agreements for infrequent situations.
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### #12DavidKok

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Posted 2024-July-19, 12:38

Does this give up on the situation where South has a singleton or the king, and North the ace or a void?
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### #13pescetom

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Posted 2024-July-20, 09:23

DavidKok, on 2024-July-19, 12:38, said:

Does this give up on the situation where South has a singleton or the king, and North the ace or a void?

Like Kit Woolsey's method, this gives up making explicit (to partner but also to opponents) possession of the Ace or a void rather than King or a singleton, but then that's the normal situation if opponent had not doubled and both partners get to show Diamonds control. In practice it's not usually a problem. Of course the player with first level control is under no illusions and usually his partner can work it out before placing the contract, if necessary. At very worst, the partner with first level control may not get another chance to show Diamonds control before his partner is saddled with a stop/go decision based upon the number of keycards and the information about controls in the various suits: but even then his partner is aware of this and will probably bid on over a return to trumps, with a signoff in slam if he thinks we are missing one known keycard or a control-bid continuation if he still has hopes of the grand.

Granted, it would be easier using a standard method which pinpoints first level control after the double, as it would now be obvious to each what partner holds (if we are looking at a shortage then partner with first level must have the Ace, if we are looking at the King then partner with first level must have a Void, unless opps are messing around). But that also blabbers the bad news to opponents and does nothing useful to protect us in the considerably more likely situation that we are losing the first trick in diamonds.

Compare to some situations using my out of the box method.

In the low frequency situation where we do have first level control, if we stop short of slam because (say) neither of us controls hearts, the opponents are uncertain of why we stopped and may lead diamonds into our hands (not that likely, but highly satisfying if it happens).

Much more likely and important, if we know we are losing the first trick in diamonds then we will not get into slam lacking the Queen of trumps. This is a significant gain, and offsets one of the few disadvantages of basic Turbo versus the opponents playing RKCB (we are already partially protected by Non-Serious 3NT, but not all auctions allow that).
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### #14DavidKok

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Posted 2024-July-20, 10:03

I'm sorry, I have been a bit slow lately, recovering from a longlasting infection. Did that mean "yes"?

If you wish to compare relative frequencies of missing a first round control versus missing the queen of the suit, you'd probably have to make some assumptions about suitable holdings for a lead directing double.
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