Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Double of 1NT

Let's go over the double of 1NT. This is about as annoying, maybe more annoying, than people not knowing about responsive doubles. Most players, even inexperienced players have some sort of agreement about what they play over the opponents' NT openings - DONT and Cappelletti are two of the most common ones, and in those systems X is a one-suited hand (in DONT) or a penalty double (in Capp). But if you haven't talked about your defense to NT, it shall be assumed you're playing natural suit overcalls, but what does that mean for double? A "natural" double of 1NT is a penalty double. Unquestionably. And responder is supposed to pull only if very weak and with a long suit.

Lately, I have seen a lot of people play something like a takeout double of 1NT, which is kind of silly. Twice in the last 3 days at the bridge club, my opponent made a "takeout" double of my partner's 1NT and when LHO bid a suit, RHO bid 2NT. Both times, I had enough points to know our side had over half the high cards so I doubled, later to find that the doubler has something more like a minimal takeout double of the suit her partner bid. Why don't people know that doubling 1NT is basically a penalty double and that doubling and then bidding 2NT, shows about 20 hcp?

Apparently beginning bridge teachers and books do a really crappy job of teaching the concepts behind doubling. It's pretty simple. If the opponents have bid one suit, double is takeout (or negative or responsive if your partner has opened or overcalled). If you double NT, it is penalty. Doubling and then bidding a new suit or NT shows a huge hand - too big to overcall. This is standard. Learn standard so that I don't keep getting irritated with such silly auctions, and pissed off when such an auctions gets me a zero.

On another note, Saturday afternoon, Sean and I got a near-top for going down 6 vulnerable in 5S. We may have run to our better fit (6C) if the lady with KT9xx of spades found a double, which I may have been able to hold to -2. But the field was in 4H or 5H making 5 the other way. It's not often you can go down 6 and get a good score.

Online last night, Sean and I had another score that you rarely see: +4000. 2NTXX -7. LHO decided to open 2NT with 8 solid clubs and not much else. Partner had AKQTxx of diamonds and dummy came down with Jxxx of diamonds, so after cashing a high diamond, he underled his honors and my 9 won trick 2 so we wound up taking 6 diamonds, then ran 5 hearts, and had the ace of spades. If declarer guessed correctly to play the jack at trick 2, it would have been -1280 for us, quite a large swing on that one play.


  1. Megan likes to play 1NT-(X) shows a 15-17 NT or better, with systems on if the next player passes. What do you see as the drawbacks to this approach?

  2. I think that's fine over a weak NT, but over a strong NT it is so rare that overcaller will have 15+ bal that I think it's not worth the benefit it gets you when half the time just letting RHO suffer through 1NT could be right.