Thursday, November 18, 2010

Responsive Doubles and Other Competitive Doubles

Online I ran across a few situations where there was some confusion as to what double means: when the opponents interfere after a 2/1, when the opponents preempt after 1X-P-1Y, and the misuse of responsive doubles after 1M-X-2M.

A responsive double is generally defined as a double when the opponents have bid and raised a suit and partner has either made a takeout double or overcalled. When partner has overcalled, for example 1D-1H-2D-X, the double is clearly takeout for spades and clubs, without heart support. When partner has doubled and the opponents bid and raised a minor, for example 1D-X-2D-X, the double is clearly asking partner to bid a major, presumably showing 4-4 in the majors and not suggesting clubs at all.

There apparently is some confusion, at least amongst some juniors that I was watching yesterday, about what a responsive double means when it goes 1S-X-2S-X. This responsive double is not takeout for 3 suits. That would be a bit too vague as the chances that responder is 1-4-4-4 is minimal and with any other takeout shape, you're really not any more likely to find the best fit by passing the decision of which suit back to partner. A responsive double in this situation (1M-X-2M-X) should be takeout for the minors, i.e. "I don't have support for the other major and want to compete to 3 of a minor but I want you to pick which minor." This is based on the idea that if the responsive doubler has 4 of the other major, he would just bid that suit because the original takeout doubler is extremely likely to have 4 as well.

A second double that I have come across lately is 1H-P-2C-2S; X. We are in a game force and this guy comes in a bids. This is a penalty double, probably something like KJx, AKxxx, Axx, xx. It may make sense for this to just show extra values or show some club support or something else that probably is only useful for marginal slam hands, but being able to punish the opponent for sticking his neck in our auction.

The third double is in an auction like 1D-P-1H-2S; X. This time we are not in a game force and this is too high to be a support double (committing to 3H with a minimum could be dangerous). Penalty doesn't make as much sense here because we don't have as good an idea of where we are headed with this auction when we do have a good hand. This double should be just general extra values, probably a hand that would have rebid 2NT if RHO had passed, maybe a hand like Qx, Axx, KQJx, AQxx.


  1. Regarding the third double, does double presumably deny a spade stopper and 2NT shows one?

  2. I tend use use the third double as still a support double but also promises extra points - 18-19 - in my partnerships.