Take out Doubles
Double (X or Dbl) is the most versatile and flexible bid in bridge. It's used more and more these days at all levels. When the opponents have started the bidding (making the auction competitive), double gives you a new bid. It doesn’t take up any bidding room, and works well when other bids are not practical.
It shows a hand with points (opening+) but without a long suit that could have been overcalled. Note, that it is recommended that you count your shortages (if they are in the suit opened) when deciding to make a takeout double. For example, 10 high card points with a singleton in the suit they've opened, would be worth three shortage points. With the hand below, you would double a 1♥ opening for takeout, asking partner to bid.
♠ A1095 West North East You
♥ 7 1♥ X
The Classic Takeout Double shows
an opening hand (add extra for shortage) 13 + points
shortage (ideally two or fewer cards) in the opponent's opened suit (add one shortage point for a doubleton, three for a singleton, and five for a void).
support for the other suits not opened by the opponents (eg they open 1♥, you double to show at least three cards in ♣, ♦ and ♠, and probably four ♠).
A double is forcing (unless the next hand bids after it) so partner needs to bid their longest suit, even with no points. The higher the level the opponents opened at (e.g. 2♠, 3♠, 4♠ etc), the stronger the doubler needs to be.
But, with very few cards in the opponents’ suit, enter the auction with a double. The more points you hold, the less important the shape requirement is. So with 17+, even if you have a good suit to overcall, start with double and bid your suit later.
Responding to a Takeout Double
0-8 points, bid your longest or best suit, especially a major, at the cheapest level (e.g. 1♣ X pass 1♦/♥/♠).
9-11 points, jump a level, and bid your best suit (e.g. 1♣ X pass 2♦/♥/♠). Shows four+ cards
12 + points, bid to game or cue bid the opener (e.g. 1♣ X pass, 4♥/♠: or 1♣ X pass 2♣)
Doubler’s Next Move
The doubler must remember that partner, who was forced to bid, may have no points at all. So, after partner's response to your double,
Pass with minimum 13-15
Raise one level with 16-18
Jump raise with 19-20
Coping with Doubles
As a general rule, most jump bids in competitive auctions show weak rather than strong hands. (e.g. 1♥ X 3♥ = less than 8 points, with four trumps). The idea is to stop the doubler’s side finding a good two level fit, and playing there.
The way to show a stronger hand, is to redouble, which shows 10+ points, and denies a fit for partner.
To show a good hand with a fit, bid 2NT – Truscott/Jordan(1♥ X 2NT) =10+ points and a fit.
Test your knowledge
The quiz below may not work properly on some mobile devices. If you are having trouble using it, please click here to open the quiz in its own window.