Mike’s Bridge Quiz


The discussion of takeout doubles continues with some examples of what not to do when competing.

1. What do I need to make a takeout double?
2. Can you provide some examples of incorrect bidding?

When you make takeout doubles with inappropriate hands, you will sometimes land on your feet. It is true that the worst does not have to happen, but it will happen often enough that it smarts. Over time, bad takeout doubles (and bad responses to good takeout doubles) will erode partnership confidence. It’s best to learn the correct way from the start.

See if you can spot the mistakes in the following example deals.

♠ 9 7 2
K J 9 4 2
Q 8 3
♣ 9 5
♠ 10 8 3
Q 5
J 5
♣ K J 8 7 6 3
♠ Q 6 5 4
A 10 8
A K 10 4
♣ 4 2
♠ A K J
7 6 3
9 7 6 2
♣ A Q 10
WEst North East South
1 Dbl
2♣ 1 All Pass
See Mike's Advice

Two calls are in question here: South’s double and North’s 2 bid.

South should not double. He has bad shape, and the 14 high-card points are no adequate compensation for that defect. Double is definitely a bad call. Semantics note: a call is any action you take when it’s your turn, including pass, double, redouble and any bid. A bid names a number of tricks and a denomination. All bids are calls, but not all calls are bids.

North should bid 2. He expects that South will have better shape and expects that his five-card heart suit will be worth a lot. North’s bidding is impeccable.

The result is down two in 2. You might like to figure out how that happens. If South correctly passes at his turn instead of doubling, the result would likely be 1NT by West, down one much of the time.

♠ K Q J 6
Q 4 2
7 4
♣ 10 9 8 2
♠ 10 5 4 2
9 5
J 8 2
♣ K 7 6 3
♠ A 9 3
A 10 8 6
Q 10 5 3
♣ A 5
♠ 8 7
K J 7 3
A K 9 6
♣ Q J 4
WEst North East South
1 Dbl
Pass 1♠ Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT All Pass
See Mike's Advice

Four calls are in question here: South’s double, North’s 1♠ bid, South’s 1NT bid and North’s 3NT bid.

South should not double 1. He does not have the right shape and he does not have sufficient values to double and then to keep bidding if North bids something that South does not like.

North’s bid of 1♠ is actually a tiny underbid. Some players would bid 2♠ to show a positive response. 2♠ promises 8 to 11 support points for spades. It does not promise five of them. Four is adequate. In light of the definition for 2♠, this hand can go either way.

South’s 1NT bid is in the nature of an apology. South does not want to put down his dummy with only two trumps. The way to avoid this problem is not to double in the first place. Having doubled 1, South now has to make a second bad call. He can pass 1♠ or bid 1NT. The 1NT bid promises a hand that was better than a minimum 1NT overcall, something in the range of 18–19 HCP.

North’s 3NT bid is excellent. He thinks that South has around 18 HCP, and North has 8 points himself. His raise to game is without fault. South will probably make some comment about just trying to escape from 1♠, but that is not a good excuse. South ought to have been quiet earlier. 3NT will go down one or two at least, which is obviously bad since the correct contract for North–South is 1NT.

How the bidding should go is not clear. I can think of four or five sequences that would occur if South passed 1.