Negative Doubles

Lesson Notes

Negative Doubles (Responder’s Double)

When partner opens the bidding in a suit at the one-level, and right hand opponent overcalls in a suit, e.g. 1♥ (1♠), a double by the next hand (opener's partner, the responder) is called a negative double. It's meant for take-out not penalty. It shows some points, but often not enough to properly describe the hand at the level it has been pushed to by the overcall. 

A negative double asks partner to bid something, so the higher the level of your double, the stronger you need to be. Remember "pass" was an option to deny enough points to bid at all.  

A negative double denies three things, so have a mental check that these three conditions are present, and if so, the answer will be "double". The "negatives" you require are: 

  • you deny a fit for partner. (in competitive auctions, showing a fit is No.1 priority)

  • you deny the ability to bid no trumps over the overcall (you don't have a "stopper" in the opponent's suit)

  • you deny the ability to show your suit/s at the appropriate level, either because you don't have enough points to, or you have two suits, and would like to show them both at once.

NB: With a five+ card suit and 10+ pts, responder bids the suit rather than doubling e.g. 1♥ (2♣) 2♠  If responder doesn’t have enough strength to do that, start with a negative double, planning to bid the suit at the next opportunity. NB: 1♣ (1♥) X would show four spades, and that leaves a 1♠ bid to show five + spades. 

 Opener’s Rebid After a Negative Double

  • With a minimum strength hand (13-15), opener will rebid at the cheapest level available. Opener can pass if the next opponent competes after the negative double. 1♥ (1♠) X 2♠ p

  • With a medium strength hand (16-18), opener jumps a level, or bids even if the next opponent competes after the negative double 1♥ (1♠) X 2♠ 3♣/♦

  • With a maximum strength hand (19-20), opener takes the partnership to game, cuebidding the opponent’s suit if in doubt about the best contract: 1♥ (1♠) X 2♠ 5♣/♦ OR 1♥ (1♠) X 2♠ 3♠

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