Mike's Bidding Quiz


Many players feel that they know all about the takeout double, but I can promise you that if someone makes that statement, they are probably wrong. Let’s examine a variety of hands where
you may think of bidding. Many of these hands should double for takeout, but some should not. Be sure to note why the calls vary from hand to hand.

Vulnerability can be important on close decisions but I will ignore it for these hands. Most of the problems are not whether to act but what call to make.

WEst North East South
1 ?

Decide what to do on each of the following hands.

1. ♠ Q J 7 3   A K J 7   2   ♣ J 9 8 4

See Mike's Advice

This is the kind of hand you want for a takeout double. It has 12 high-card points, which makes it a minimum double but it has exactly the kind of shape you want. Whichever suit your partner bids will be fine with you. Note that you have a singleton in the suit they opened. You really do not want partner to bid notrump.

2. ♠ Q 7 3   A 10 9 7   5 2   ♣ A Q J 8
See Mike's Advice

Double for takeout. Some players feel that they need four cards in an unbid major. It would be nice to have another spade, but the cost of passing outweighs the danger of bidding. Your partner may bid hearts or clubs, the two suits you like. If partner bids spades, that won’t be perfect but there is no cause for alarm. If partner bids 1♠ you are at the one level, and if he bids 2♠ or more, he has some points. Also, he may have five spades.

3. ♠ A K J   7 6 3   9 7 6 2   ♣ A Q 10
See Mike's Advice

Pass. Remember this hand and then remember this rule: There is no shame in passing an opening bid when your RHO opens the bidding. If your values are not proper for a bid, then do not fabricate a bid. You have the points for a double but you do not have proper shape. Learn to pass hands like this one.

4. ♠ 8 7   K J 7 3   A K 9 6   ♣ Q J 4
See Mike's Advice

Here is another hand that should pass. You have 14 HCP, good support for hearts and fair support for clubs. But you also have one of the clearest warning signs imaginable — you do not have support for one of the unbid major suits. With a very strong hand, you can sometimes double without proper support with the intent of bidding something later, but this hand is in the minimum family of hands.

5. ♠ K 8 3   K Q 8   8 3   ♣ A 10 7 5 2
See Mike's Advice

Now and then you will have a hand like this one. You have fair support for two suits and a marginally biddable suit as well that would have to bid at the two level. Some players would bid 2♣ with this hand. This will work well if partner has three clubs and 9 or more HCP, but it will work out badly if he has one or two clubs. If partner has a weak hand with a five-card major, he will tend to pass 2♣ and you will be in the wrong suit.

With a hand like this, choose between a takeout double and a pass. Both have arguments for and against. Perhaps this hand should double if not vulnerable and pass otherwise. The big point is that this is not a 2♣ overcall. The suit is too soft and it is only five cards long and you have a balanced hand.

6. ♠ K Q J   J 8   A K J 7 3   ♣ Q 6 4
See Mike's Advice

Bid 1NT. If you bid 1NT, you show your values in one bid, and the rest of the auction will be fairly easy for you (partner knows what you have and can act if it’s appropriate). Do not double. Your partner will expect you to have one or both majors, and you may not be able to shut him up. The reason that you do not double and then bid 1NT is that you would be promising a point or two more. Since 1NT shows 15–18 HCP with diamonds stopped, you should make the bid that exactly shows your hand.

7. ♠ A K 8 7 4   Q J 7 4   K 3   ♣ 10 7
See Mike's Advice

Overcall 1♠. You might have a chance to bid hearts later if partner doesn’t raise spades. If you double 1, partner may bid clubs. You will be faced with a choice of passing and leaving partner in a poor contract or bidding 2♠, which, as you will see later, promises around 18 HCP.