Have You Discussed: Take Out Doubles II by Brent Manley

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The takeout double is one of the most-used conventions in bridge.

Brent Manley 1
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Source: Bulletin 3; 52nd Gold Coast Congress 2014    2014 Gold Coast Official Site

A bridge player told the story of her 8-year-old granddaughter, who had watched her mother play four duplicate
sessions. Later on, the girl was playing in a foursome with her 12-year-old brother. When her brother made a
face indicating a bad hand, the girl showed off some of her knowledge of duplicate. “If you make a face like
that in duplicate,” the girl exclaimed, “they’ll call the janitor on you.”

The takeout double is one of the most-used conventions in bridge. In many ways, unfortunately, it is also one of the most misused. In Have You Discussed: Take Out Doubles we covered the practice – too common among newer players – of doubling for takeout with any hand that approximates opening strength. We established that doubling for takeout without at least threecard support for unbid suits is a mistake. There is actually a box on the convention card for you to indicate that you and your partner agree to make offshape takeout doubles with minimum values.

If you take away one thing from this page, I hope it is the understanding that making off-shape takeout doubles with minimum values is losing bridge. That said, there are a couple of exceptions, the most common being the takeout double to show extra strength and a very strong suit. Suppose you are dealt this hand:

 A K Q J 9 8  K 2  K Q 5 4.

Your right-hand opponent opens 1. What should you do? If you overcall 1 and partner’s hand is

  10 4 3  7 6 5 4  A 10 6 5  8 5,

he will not bid with only 4 high-card points, and you will miss a virtually ironclad game. In case you were thinking of bidding 4, dismiss that thought. A 4 overcall is strictly pre-emptive and would look like this:

K Q J 10 9 6 5  6 2  K Q 4  5.

So what should you do? You could play intermediate jump overcalls, but that is not recommended for newer players. Also, the intermediate variety of jump overcalls comes up far less often than the preemptive version: weak jump overcalls.

A better plan is to double. Yes, it’s ostensibly for takeout, but you plan to rebid in spades suit to describe a hand with 17 or more HCP and a long, strong suit. Partner can pass with a bad hand and inadequate support for your suit, but he will strain to raise with any excuse. The auction would go like this (you are South)
West    North     East      South
                                1        Dbl
Pass      2         Pass      2
Pass      3         Pass      4
All Pass

You would have to be very unlucky not to take 10 tricks with those two hands. Any time you double and bid your own suit it shows extra values and, usually, a strong, six-card or longer suit.

The other exception to the rule about having support for unbid suits was touched on in yesterday’s article .

Suppose you have this collection:

A Q J  K Q 6 2  9 8  A K 10 7 and RHO opens 1.

You don’t have a suit you can bid and your hand is too strong to overcall 1NT (recommended range: 15-18), so you must double. You have three-card spade support in case partner bids that suit, but a more important task for you is to show your strength. Over any minimum response by partner (1, 2or 2), you will bid notrump at the cheapest level to show your power and a balanced hand. Partner should know what to do from there. Note that if partner bids 1NT, this is not a minimum response. It shows some high-card values and a stopper in opener’s suit.

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