Mike's Bidding Quiz


1. Why can’t you make a takeout double and just bid notrump if partner bids your short suit?
2. Is it always bad to do so?

I will answer both questions with the same statement. You can double and bid notrump, if — and this is a big if — you have the values to do so. What you must avoid is making a takeout double with mere opening-hand values if you do not have at least three-card support for the unbid suits. To repeat the theme from last week: if you double and bid notrump over partner’s response, you are showing a balanced hand that has more strength than if you simply overcalled 1NT. Some examples:

1. ♠ Q J 8 7   K 8   A Q 7 6   ♣ A Q 6

WEst North East South
1♣ Dbl
1 1 Pass 1NT
All Pass

Is this auction acceptable?

See Mike's Advice

South has done well. He has a good enough hand to double and then bid notrump. Even though North bid 1 freely, he does not promise a lot of high-card points. If he has bid 1 with 8 HCP, he should keep bidding. If he bid 1 with 4 HCP and some distribution, he will pass 1NT or might bid 2. That would be okay with you because you would know that partner has five or more hearts.

2. ♠ Q 8   A K J   K 8 7   ♣ A J 10 8 7

WEst North East South
1 Dbl
Pass 1♠ Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

How do you expect this to work out?

See Mike's Advice

South is busy overbidding. If South had opened 1♣ and if North responded with 1♠, a jump to 2NT would be correct. The reason it would be correct is that South expects North to have at least 6 HCP for his 1♠ bid.

On the sequence above, North’s 1♠ bid promises zero HCP. He may have up to 7, but he may have a terrible hand. It is sufficient for South to double 1 and then to bid 1NT.

NOTE that if North had bid 2, South could bid 2NT over that, too, but it would not be too safe a bid. If North has zero HCP, 2NT may be down some. Doubling and then bidding 2NT over 2 is a calculated risk.

♠ 8 7 3
9 7 4
J 8 7 3
♣ Q 7 3
♠ K 6 2
A Q J 3
K 4
♣ 10 6 3
WEst North East South
1 Dbl
ReDbl Pass Pass 1NT
Dbl All Pass

South took three tricks. He could have taken five tricks in hearts. Who is to blame?

See Mike's Advice

This is an example of what can happen when you choose the wrong moment to make a takeout double. South’s double was excellent. West’s redouble was a warning that North–South were seriously outgunned. When North and East passed it to South, South should have bid 1.

This auction is important because it shows why rules do not cover everything. It sounds like South is doubling and then bidding a suit, which normally requires a big hand. West’s redouble changes that. The redouble tells North and South that they do not have a lot of points and are in danger. On this auction, South’s 1 bid should be interpreted as a place to play, not as showing a big hand.

South’s 1NT is a particularly poor choice. He knows that the opponents have at least 22 HCP, and that means that North–South have at most 18. South should know that a 1NT bid will be doubled. Let’s face it. Anything South bids may be doubled. The one thing that is clear is that 1NT will be doubled and set a bunch.