Responding to a Takeout Double
The partner of the person who doubles is known as the "advancer". That's the same as a "responder" is to "opener". They play a very important role in the auction, because two sides are in the bidding now, and you need to know who has the balance of strength. One person has opened (13+) and the next (your partner) has doubled (13+), so that accounts for 26+ points. There are only about 14 left between the other two hands (40 - 26 = 14).
Your partner (the doubler) needs to know where you want to play the hand, and how high to go. Because their takeout double is forcing, unless the next hand bids something, you may have to bid with nothing! Your first thought might be to pass because you have a bad hand, but partner is counting on you to show them your longest suit.
There are two decisions for advancer after partner makes a takeout double and right-hand opponent passes:
To pick the suit (or no trumps)
To bid to the appropriate level
You usually pick your longest suit, and with a choice, bid the higher-ranking. It's essential to follow this table:
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♣)
Bidding (Advancing in) No Trumps
It's less likely that your side will be playing in no trumps when parter has made a takeout double. That's because the doubler has shown shortage in the suit opened, and wants to play in a suit because they can trump opener's suit. However, there are times when your best bid is no trumps, i.e. when your best suit is their suit. So, with good cards in the opponent's suit, and no better option, follow this table:
6-10 points, bid no trumps at the most economic level
11-12 points, bid no trumps, jumping a level
13+ points, bid game in no trumps.
When Responder (Opener's partner) Bids over the Takeout Double
West North East South
1♥ X (Double) 2♥ ?
If East had passed, you would have been forced to bid. Because East has bid, you could pass because partner has another chance to bid. BUT with a few points, you should still bid, because your side will have as many points as their side, and why shouldn't you make your contract? With the hand below, you should bid 2♠.
Who knows what will happen after that? It's so important to show partner your best suit, and the fact that you have a few points. Remember, you're not bidding 2♠ all by yourself. Partner has advertised a good hand with spades when they doubled in the first place!
Do you ever Pass Partner's Takeout Double?
There's only one time that you would not bid after your partner has made a takeout double, and that's when you WANT the contract to be doubled, so you pass, and convert partner's takeout double into a penalty. This happens rarely, and you need very solid trumps and plenty of them to make this work.
West North East South
1♥ X (Double) Pass ?
If you hold the hand below, you would pass, and hope to beat 1♥X. The defence should lead trumps at every opportunity because the idea is to draw declarer's trumps, because you have so many and such good ones!
Looking for more information? These books will help you learn more about doubles and other conventions.
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