Bid More When They Double

Pat Harrington

Do you tend to breathe a sigh of relief when your opponent makes a takeout double and relieves you of the obligation to bid with a minimum hand? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take up some bidding space from your opponents? The best time to do that is when you have a fit for partner’s suit.

When partner opens a major suit, you need only three cards for a fit. After partner’s 1♠ opening bid is doubled by your right-hand opponent, would you bid with:

♠K 7 6   5   J 9 7 6 2   ♣10 9 4 2?

If not, you should! You have a fit,the trump king and ruffing value in hearts. Think how much more difficult you make life for your opponents by bidding. Doubler’s partner probably has some values but might be reluctant to bid at the three level.

Try another hand with the same bidding:

♠K 9 7 6   5   J 9 7 6 2   ♣10 9 4

Surely you want to bid over your opponent’s double now. A raise to 2♠ simply doesn’t do this hand justice. You can raise to 3♠. No, I haven’t lost my mind, and I am not saying
that this hand is worth a limit raise.

Your opponent’s takeout double gives you new ways to show a limit raise or any good hand. Traditionally, redouble is used to show 10 or more high-card points. When you raise
partner to 3♠ instead of using the redouble, you deny 10 or more points. This is a competitive auction because of RHO’s takeout double, and it’s time to apply the law of total tricks.
In a competitive auction, the Law tells us to compete for as many tricks as our side has trumps. You know opener has five spades and you have four. That makes nine trumps and you compete for nine tricks. If a raise to 2♠ made it hard for your opponents to compete in the first example, just think what your 3♠ raise is going to do to them!

Because redouble exists, nobody at the table should take you for a good hand when you jump raise your partner’s opener’s suit after your opponent’s takeout double. This weak raise is not Alertable. In fact, those who jump to show a limit raise in this situation are the people who are bidding in non-standard fashion and should really Alert. Don’t expect that to happen, however, because they are probably inexperienced players who are not aware that their bid is not standard.

Now try these. Partner opens 1, and RHO makes a takeout double. What will you bid with each hand below?

1. ♠4 2   Q J 9 7   7 6 5   ♣K 7 5 4

Jump to 3. You want to keep them from finding their likely spade fit. With nine trumps between you, the three level should be safe. You might not make 3, but if you do go down, the penalty is likely to be less than what your opponents can make if left to bid freely.

2.♠4 2   Q 9 7   7 6 5 4   ♣K 7 5 4

Bid 2. It might not block the opponents, but at least you can try. Your raise also helps partner know when it is correct to compete further.

3. ♠4   J 10 7 6 5   Q 9 6 5 4   ♣5 4

Go all the way to 4! With 10 trumps, contract for 10 tricks in competition. That could really mess up your opponents. Responder can make this preemptive raise to game whether RHO doubles, overcalls or passes. In standard bidding, responder’s immediate raise to four of a major shows a weak, distributional hand with five-card
trump support. With a strong, game-going hand, responder makes a forcing bid first and then bids game.

4. ♠K 7 6   Q J 9 7   A 10 7 6   ♣5 4

This is a real limit raise. Before RHO’s double, you planned to raise to 3, but now that bid would be preemptive. Many pairs use 2NT to show a limit raise or better immediately. If you don’t use that convention, sometimes called Jordan, start with a redouble to show 10 or more points, and raise hearts next time.

Some of you might have learned a new bid today — one that isn’t even a convention. Responder’s jump raise of opener’s suit is preemptive after a takeout double. It’s standard bidding
but not widely known among less-experienced players.

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