Responses Over a Takeout Double

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 Double

If the opening suit bid is doubled, these actions are available to responder: strength-showing redouble; waiting pass (ostensibly suggesting weakness); new-suit bids forcing at the one level, constructive but not forcing at the two level; new-suit single jumps as preempts; natural single raise; preemptive jump raises; two notrump to show a limit raise; new-suit double jumps as strong raises, showing a splinter.

The most difficult decisions are usually between passing and bidding, and between redoubling and bidding a new suit. In each case, responder has a choice between immediately showing a strength range, and eventually providing accurate distributional information.

As South, what call do you make with each of the following:

(a) K J 6 2    Q 8 3    7 4    K 10 8 3

(b) 5 4    A Q 8 7 4 2    8 4 3    10 6

(c) 10 6    K 5    A Q 8 7 4 2    8 4 3

(d) A Q 8 7 4 2    K J 5    6    Q 7 5

(e) 6    Q 7 5    K J 5    A Q 8 7 4 2

(f) Q 7 5    6    A Q 8 7 4 2    K J 5


K J 6 2    Q 8 3    7 4    K 10 8 3

(a) One spade. The modern style is to ignore the double if you can make your normal response at the one level. Yet, it makes some sense to pass in this situation, intending to bid later (having limited your distribution) if appropriate, The values held are far from ideal for a four-three two-spade contract, and this may be avoided by playing a waiting game.

5 4    A Q 8 7 4 2    8 4 3    10 6

(b) One heart. A preemptive two hearts is acceptable, and would be the choice of many bold matchpoint players. This might score a triumph through immediate shutout value. However, the lower hearts are not high enough to make hearts rate as the best, or a decent, North-South strain, especially when the South hand has good potential in diamonds. A one-heart response keeps diamonds available.

10 6    K 5    A Q 8 7 4 2    8 4 3

(c) Two notrump. It's awkward in the extreme to have to become declarer with this hand at a notrump contract, but the alternatives (such as redouble) are asking for big trouble if the sequence gets competitive. Two notrump suggests a good fit with high-card values, and will be all right as long as the final contract is not notrump played by you. Even if it is, everything could still work out favorably. Some partnerships reverse the meanings of two notrump and three diamonds here, just to avoid this problem. This gets to the right side more often at three notrump, but loses slightly on the preemptive value of responder's jump with the weaker hand.

A Q 8 7 4 2    K J 5    6    Q 7 5

(d) One spade. This is an old-fashioned redouble, and here the modern style gains by giving you a superior alternative. It is possible the opponents can be socked for a number, but you cannot do that with confidence until you have shown your spades. If partner fits spades, your side belongs on offense. If partner misfits spades, and you let EastWest slip away, remember they were only at the one level; and the defense is not always perfect, the more so when it has done little to describe its hands before doubling for penalties.

6    Q 7 5    K J 5    A Q 8 7 4 2

(e) Redouble. The standard action is to show your strength, since you are too strong for a nonforcing two clubs (in view of the big diamond fit). We've found that redoubling in this position typically leads to insoluble Master Solvers' Club problems. The next player bids, say, three spades (is that such a big surprise, looking at the South hand?), pass, pass, Yechh! So, we'd bid two clubs anyway, and hope things work out later. But this violates the system, so we can't say it in print.

Q 7 5    6    A Q 8 7 4 2    K J 5

(f) Three hearts. Splintering may give the opponents an easier time in finding hearts, but you weren't going to make it significantly harder for them with any other action. Meanwhile, you are giving partner a good immediate description of your hand, which figures to leave him relatively well placed if the auction becomes competitive at a high level, as it might.

(Adapted from "Rate Your Own Game" in The Bridge World.)


Our learning center web pages are dedicated to teaching the game of bridge. There are lessons for first-time players, as well as for those at the elementary and intermediate levels. You can find the appropriate section, and proceed through the lessons.

BEGINNER: Learn how to play bridge if you have never played before. The beginner lessons here are designed for those who know little or nothing about the game.

ELEMENTARY: If you understand the basics of the game, and are ready to proceed further.

INTERMEDIATE: Here is a collection of intermediate-level problems in bidding, declarer play, and defense for you to practice and improve your game.