Drury Doubles

Years ago, I sometimes played with a partner who liked to open light in third chair. Not just "normal light," say, something like  S:AKJxx H:Qxxx D:xx C:xx, but really really light. Since I couldn't stop it, I figured it was time to stop some of the disasters that kept happening when these came up. So we adopted Drury, of course. That helped a little, but we found that fourth hand bid or doubled most of the time. To make a limit raise then required a cue bid. That got us too high. So we began to play "Drury on in competition;" if 2C: was available, it was still Drury. That covered most of the problem hands (at least we went for 1100 instead of 1400) but when they bid 2C: or more, we were still in trouble. After awhile, I noticed that the biggest problems were when responder made a negative double after a light opening. We were too high with a good chance of a misfit. Trouble. My response was simply to stop making negative doubles after partner's third-seat openings. We'd get blown out of the auction once in awhile, but that's less demoralizing than going for a telephone number.

The solution to both problems seems obvious on reflection. If I was de facto going to give up the negative double anyway, we might as well play the double as Drury. Henceforth, we began to play "Drury Doubles." They are on when the opponents overcall 2C: or more, but stay below two of our suit. If they preempt, typically third hand hasn't opened light, so we don't seem to need to avoid problems higher than two of our suit.

Because we gave up negative doubles, we found that we couldn't recover the other major in competitive auctions. As a result, if we are opening light with 4-4 in the majors, we open 1S:, instead of the more normal 1H:. (1H: caters to partner's being able to respond 1S:. In practice, that doesn't happen; fouth hand just overcalls, requiring us to use the negative double to get spades back into the auction.) Then, after Drury of any sort (2C: or double), 2H: by either partner is non-forcing, non-encouraging, and is an attempt to find a 4-4 fit rather than a possible 4-3 fit. 2H: denies a normal opening bid, but is ambiguous somewhat about major suit lengths. Opener could be 5-5, 5-4 or 4-4.

If we were left alone, we worked out some methods for Drury followups that catered to this oddity.

1M-2C:; ?
2D: = maybe game, artificial
1S:-2C:; 2D:-2H: = not forcing
After 1M-2C:; 2D:-2M; ?, Nagy game tries are on
2H: (over 1S:) = natural, submin
2M = EOA
2S: (over 1H:) = 4-5, reverse
2NT = balanced, choice of games or slammish (game forcing)
3x = singleton with 3-card support
4x = stiff, with 4-card support
(1H:-2C:; 2NT-3S: = spade stiff, 3 or 4 Hearts)
3NT = no stiff, 3NT interest
3M = no stiff, slam interest
4M = no stiff, no slam interest
3X = side suit, slam interest
3M = cue trigger
3NT = To play
4X = splinters, slam tries
4M = EOA
4S: (over 1H:) = Kickback
4NT (over 1S:) = RKCB

This structure assumes one plays fit-showing jump shifts by passed hands. If one plays mini-splinters, change the responses to 2NT to show concentrations of values rather than singletons.

In competition, opener's rebids are the same if available, except that 2NT is natural and invitational, and if 2D: is not available, 3-level bids are help-suit game (or slam) tries. 2H: is still always pass or correct.

I do not know how much of this is original. The Drury-followups include material borrowed from Allan Falk and others. I imagine other partnerships have evolved this idea similarly.

Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@tintin.jpl.nasa.gov, April 27, 1997