There are several reasons you may want to double the opponents, most of them not for penalties. If you are vulnerable, you should have a couple more points than the minimums listed below.


Takeout double

After the opponents open the bidding a double shows a hand with opening values, support for all three unbid suits (at least three cards in each) and shortness in the suit doubled (preferably, no more than two).

Response: If this double is passed to partner, she should not pass. Partner’s first responsibility is to bid an unbid four-card or longer major. Otherwise, partner may bid NT to show a stopper in the opponents’ suit. Bidding at the lowest possible level does not promise any points at all. If responder has 8+ points (10+ if vulnerable), she should jump in her response. If responder has values for an opening hand, she may cue bid the opponents’ suit, asking doubler to describe his hand further, or jump to game with a 5-card or longer suit. Responder may only pass a takeout double if they have length and strength in the enemies’ trump suit and wants to convert the takeout double to penalties.

If the intervening opponent bids after the takeout double, responder needs 8+ points to bid at the lowest available level. If intervening opponent bids and partner passes, a second double by original doubler is still for takeout.


Negative double

After partner has opened the bidding and the opponents have overcalled, a double by responder shows 6+ points, and asks opener to further describe her hand. Responder may have a five-card suit if they have less than 8 points. (If they have a five-card major and 8+ points, responder should bid their suit, even after the overcall.)  The negative double says I have some values, but don’t have an obvious bid. This is essentially a DSIP double (Do Something Intelligent Partner).


Double and correct

After the opponents open the bidding, partner makes a takeout double, and then bids a new suit on her next bid. In this case the meaning of the original takeout double no longer applies. Now doubler is showing 17+ points and a very good suit. She no longer promises support for other suits.


Lead-directing double

Typically, this follows an artificial bid by RHO (right hand opponent). For example, LHO opens 1 NT and RHO bids 2 clubs (Stayman). A double would indicate strength in clubs and suggest this as an opening lead to partner.


Penalty double

Basically, a double is for penalties only after all the other reasonable interpretations of the double are ruled out.


Other doubles

There are dozens of other kinds of doubles used in various bidding systems. The most common of these are support double, responsive double, and balancing double.


Question 1: takeout double

RHO opens the bidding with 1. What do you bid with each of the following hands?












♠ AQ54

♠ AQ93

♠ AJ54

♠ KJ9

♠ AKJ9865

♥ 5

♥ 852

♥ KJ5

♥ 85

♥ 53

♦ K863

♦ K975

♦ K106

♦ K1065

♦ AQ

♣ A976

♣ A4

♣ A97

♣ A1087

♣ A10











a) Takeout double. Perfect action for this hand.





b) You cannot make a takeout double since you only have 2 clubs. Pass and hope partner overcalls or doubles.

        Note that if bidding had been: LHO opens with 1, partner passes, RHO bids 1, then this hand would qualify for a takeout double since it has 3+ cards in each of the unbid suits.





c) Overcall 1 NT to show 15-17 points and at least one stopper in opponent’s suit. This is more informative than a takeout double.





d) Minimal hand for takeout double, especially with only 3 cards in the unbid major. Consider vulnerability.





e) Double, and then bid spades over any response from partner. This is a very strong hand with a solid suit and qualifies for double-and-correct action. You do not need 3 cards in each of the unbid suits to make this double.

Question 2: response to takeout double

LHO opens the bidding with 1, partner doubles, RHO passes. What do you bid with each of the following hands?












♠ 73

♠ 43

♠ J1092

♠ QJ986

♠ AQ54

♥ 9542

♥ QJ98

♥ 43

♥ AJ82

♥ AJ65

♦ Q1093

♦ 863

♦ KQ53

♦ K103

♦ Q62

♣ 865

♣ A872

♣ A94

♣ 2

♣ 92











a) Bid 2. This bid does not promise any points at all. Partner should pass with a minimal double.





b) Bid 1 NT. With <8 points, we could respond 2, but 1 NT shows balanced hand with stopper in opponent’s suit.





c) Bid 2to show 8+ points. Note that you can do this even with a 4-card suit.

Suppose the bidding had been: LHO = 1, partner doubles, RHO = 2. A bid over the intervening bid already shows 8+ points so you do not need to jump. Just bid 2.





d) Bid 4♠. You know partner has at least 3 spades so you have an 8-card major fit and game strength. Alternatively, bid 2, which asks partner to further describe her hand, still with the goal of a game contract.





e) Bid 2. You have game strength but cannot be sure of the best contract. If partner bids 2, raise to game in spades. If partner bids 3C, you can bid 3NT.

Question 3: negative double

Partner opens the bidding with 1, RHO overcalls 1. What do you bid with each of the following hands?












♠ 54

♠ 43

♠ AK94

♠ KJ98

♠ 94

♥ KJ104

♥ 109875

♥ 54

♥ AQ82

♥ 862

♦ 7654

♦ J62

♦ Q107

♦ 10

♦ QJ96

♣ A63

♣ A82

♣ A986

♣ AK92

♣ AQ75











a) Double. If RHO had not bid, you could have responded 1. But after the overcall, a new suit bid by you would show a 5-card or longer suit. If partner has a 4-card major, he will bid it.





b) Pass. You are too weak to bid. If partner reopens the bidding with another double, you can bid your heart suit. If you are non-vulnerable against vulnerable opponents, a 1 bid right now might be considered.





c) Double. If partner bids 1, raise to game. If partner bids 1, you can bid 2 (which would be forcing) or 3NT.





d) Big hand, maybe a slam. But start with a negative double so you will have a chance to find a 4-4 major fit. If you are not a passed hand, your double does not limit the value of your hand.





e) Bid 1 NT. A negative double typically asks opener to bid a 4-card major if they have one. Since you are not interested in the majors, show your diamond stopper and weak hand with a NT bid at the lowest level.