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Double at the one level

edited May 2013 in All Things Bridge
Was playing in the club duplicate the other evening and picked up 1-4-4-4 (clubs to spades - sorry dont know how to illustrate hand with fancy symbols) with 14 points and the ace of clubs. RHO opened 1 heart which was my best suit and I didn't know what to do so passed - thinking I should have clubs covered to use the take out double. We missed game as partner had 5 5 in spades and clubs (7 points) but couldn't bid as opps raised to 3h and 4s was laydown. My question is what is the best thing to do. How do I show an opening hand? Should we redefine the double to include any opening hand?


  • edited 12:40AM
    I think double should show a shape suitable hand unless you are very strong and the risk of a missed game is high(say 18+ points). Doubling on all opening hands means that partner will find it difficult to judge on many hands. For example he might hold
    S KQ9xx
    H xxx
    D AJxx
    C x
    This would be a reasonable 4S bid opposite a normal take out double but opposite one that showed opening points and might have short spades this would not be a good idea.
    On some hands you will get in on the second round e.g. with a 4-4-4-1 hand where they open 1H and then rebid 2C you will be able to double 2C on the second round. Sometimes partner will be able to protect and occasionally, as perhaps here, you will get fixed. In the end it is mostly a matter of frequency of hand type.
  • edited June 2013
    One of the good things about common bridge practice in Britain is that initial take-out doubles are, as Jeremy says above, 'shape suitable'.   The mnemonic often quoted is SOS - you are Short in the opponents' suit, have Opening level points, and Support (minimum 3 cards) for all the unbid suits.  It seems to me amazing that in other parts of the world it is common practice, at least among club players, to double with any old opening hand ("I had to show the points partner!). 

    If you follow the SOS guidelines, and I strongly recommended you do, then when you have a moderate hand that doesn't meet these requirements just pass.  In particular a typical weak NT hand should always be passed (you don't have enough points for a 15-17 overcall; you don't have a 5-card suit to overcall; and you are not shape-suitable for a double) 

    I put some flesh on the bones of your description and showed a couple of players this hand: S: QJ95  H: AQ98 D: J865 C: A.  This is a 4-4-4-1 14hcp hand with the singleton ace of clubs as you describe. All agreed with you that if you double you have no response to a 2C bid from partner.  So they chose to pass.

    Can you bid when 3H comes back to you?  Again no, unless the oppopents are playing some kind of super weak pre-emptive raise system opposite a 5-card major.   

    You said partner had 7hcp, so the opps have managed to get to 3H on just 19hcp combined.  They did well and obviously some kind of Losing Trick Count raise involving shape was involved.  I think you did the right thing by passing and it's hats off to the opponents on this deal.  As Jeremy says sometimes you just get fixed..

    Ned Paul
  • edited 12:40AM
    Thanks Ned - very informative
  • edited 12:40AM
    One thing you can occasionally do is make a 4-card 1-level overcall -- but the suit has to be extremely good.
  • edited 12:40AM
    I used to think 4-card overcalls were smart - especially 1S over 1 short or better minor club - but in these days of "Bidding to the Level of the Fit" I've finally had it beaten out of me.  Too often, it just puts your partner in a spot where they can't judge the hand.  If you can bring yourself to pass, it is surprising how often you (or partner) will get a chance to protect later.
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