Poll #28, Takout Doubles in Contract Bridge – Part 1, 01/17/2011

Takeout Double: The perfect Bridge bid with an opening hand and shortness in opponents suit

Sometimes one must use force to go against force, sometimes not.  When you stop to think about it, a more elegant way to compete is to turn the opponents’ weakness in your strength.  And that’s what the Takeout Double is all about – instructing partner to “take out” opponents’ auction in another suit.

If you’d like to see the associated videos with commentary and animate card bidding:
Click here to view Part 1

Click here to view Part 2

Barbara Seagram materials Copyrighted by MasterPoint Press

BridgeHands Premium, ULTRA and Teacher members – after loggin in, scroll down to the Protected Content area for your supplemental advanced video lesson on balancing seat bidding, ranges for “Type 2″ doubles, etc.   For those still haven’t signed up for one of our subscriptions, we offer a glimpse of this lesson here.

As Barbara Seagram eloquently stated in her award winning book, “25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know” the idea of using a double for takeout instead of penalties originated around 1912 in the days of auction Bridge. Back in those days, inventor Bryant McCampbell referred to the call as an “informatory double.” We encourage our BridgeHands members to also check out Barbara’s website, especially her upcoming Bridge cruises and trips. Her website address is: http://www.barbaraseagram.com

In our Polling You series this week, we will follow along another of Barbara’s excellent books with more details in “Bridge – 25 Ways to Compete in the Bidding.” Barbara and co-author Marc Smith devote three chapters to takeout doubles. Of course, like most Bridge bids it’s not all that hard to make a conventional call – the hard part is knowing what to do next! So in our 3 lessons this week we will follow the same track:

1. Making a Takeout Double
2. Responding to a Takeout Double
3. Later bidding after a Takeout Double 

Over the next two weeks, our focus will shift from aggregate bidding and play around the table to a more drill-oriented approach with North/South bidding exercises. Incidentally, next week we will discuss Negative Doubles, a horse of an entirely different color.

Let’s begin by differentiating when a double is for Takeout versus when it’s for penalty. The basic guide for Takeout Doubles is:

 Some players are confused about the last guideline – why not use Takeout Doubles when an opponent (opener or responder) has bid Notrump? The notion is that when an opponent bids Notrump, the player signifies a suit misfit. When the opponents have a misfit, certainly your side will not magically find a fit, either. Thus, in many situations advanced players use a double of opponents’ Notrump bid as a “Business Double” for penalty. Still, a fair number of players don’t abide by this guideline in an auction like:
1C) – P – (1D) – P;
(1N) – P – (P) – X

On the next four hand, the bidding begins with opponent East:  

Certainly in the passout seat when seeking a 2 level major suit fit, it makes sense to have exceptions to rigid rules. Even in the direct seat, in Mike Lawrence’s “The Complete Book on Takeout Double,” he advocates the following auction as a takeout double over 1 Notrump

(1C) – P – (1D) – P;
(1N) – X

Okay, with the preludes behind us, let’s begin by looking at the four hands offered in our Polling You survey.

 (1D) – X 

We have 12 High card points but lacking a 5 card suit, we need help from partner to locate a fit so we make a Takeout Double.   With one exception (17+ HCP), we promise at least 3 cards in the unbid suits and will be happy to support any new suit bid by partner.  And assuming we have a fit with partner, we can add 1 additional distribution point for our doubleton.  That’s a new concept since the opener typically counts length points for long suits.  But since after the Takeout Double we will be responder, we instead count short suit points.  However since we are forcing partner to bid (assuming to intervening bid by LHO West), initially we cannot be assured we have an 8 card fit with partner.  By the way, don’t worry about the fact our Hearts are so poor – even if our partner holds the 8-7-6-5,  the opponents will usually only take 3 tricks in the suit and we will take our tricks in other suits.  Besides, we might also get in some cross ruffs with partner.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
  ♠ K Q J 2
5 4 3 2
7 6
♣ A Q 10

We have 12 High card points but lacking a 5 card suit, we need help from partner to locate a fit so we make a Takeout Double.   With one exception (17+ HCP), we promise at least 3 cards in the unbid suits and will be happy to support any new suit bid by partner.  And assuming we have a fit with partner, we can add 1 additional distribution point for our doubleton.  That’s a new concept since the opener typically counts length points for long suits.  But since after the Takeout Double we will be responder, we instead count short suit points.  However since we are forcing partner to bid (assuming to intervening bid by LHO West), initially we cannot be assured we have an 8 card fit with partner.  By the way, don’t worry about the fact our Hearts are so poor – even if our partner holds the 8-7-6-5,  the opponents will usually only take 3 tricks in the suit and we will take our tricks in other suits.  Besides, we might also get in some cross ruffs with partner.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
  ♠ A Q J
K J 10 2
7 6
♣ A Q 3 2

This time we have a much stronger hand with 17 HCP, but unfortunately we only have 3 Spades.  Like other Bridge bids, sometimes we don’t always hold the perfect hand.  Yes, we would like to have two 4 card major suits but if LHO West passed and partner might be tempted to do the same with 8 HCP.   With our 17+ point hand, we would hate to miss game when partner has a fair responder hand (one they would not pass if we had first opened).  Many competitive players would even make a Takeout Double if the Spade Aces was replaced by the Spade 2.  And most would double with the Spade Ace and two small Spades.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
  ♠ K Q 3 2
A 4 3 2
2
♣ Q 4 3 2

Hmm, we have good news and we have bad news!  The good news is we have perfect shape for a Takeout Double, a 4-4-4-1 distribution.  And as always, we have shortness in the opponents’ suit (recall our earlier comment about turning the opponents’ weakness into our strength.  And while we aren’t fond of the fact we barely have more than one-fourth of the High Card Points in the deck, 11 HCP to be precise, we can easily support any new suit of partner’s choice.  So if our hand becomes the dummy, our hand goes up several points with the ruffing value of our singleton in the opponents bid suit.  For many players, even exchanging the Heart Ace with a King (10 HCP), they would still go with a Takeout Double with a singleton (but we wouldn’t recommend doing so with a doubleton).

With 19 HCP and a great Spade suit are you inclined to overcall 1 Spade with this hand? If so, let’s imagine for a moment that after your 1 Spade bid your partner held this hand:

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
  ♠ A K Q J 9 2
A J 10
7 6
♣ A 2

With 19 HCP and a great Spade suit are you inclined to overcall 1 Spade with this hand?  If so, let’s imagine for a moment that after your 1 Spade bid your partner held this hand:

♠ 3
K 3 2
5 4 3 2
♣ Q 6 5 4 3
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A K Q J 9 2
A J 10
7 6
♣ A 2

With a spread 5 HCP and a singleton Spade, partner North is sure to pass.  But if either finesse in Hearts or Clubs wins, South can make 4 Spades (try Clubs first to ensure transportation to the Club Queen should East hold the King).  So when you have an excellent hand and great 5+ card suit (near self-sustaining by itself), we first double and then bid our excellent suit after partner bids another suit (Clubs here).  This “wakes up” partner we have about 8 playing tricks and are begging partner to bid on with one or more tricks in hand.  Some using around 17+ points as a guideline, but a lot depends in the working honors, shape, and primary honor count.

So on our Polling You survey question, we recommend making a Takeout Double on all of the above hands. 

A note to our more advanced players not seeking a review of Takeout Doubles: please login to your Premium or ULTRA Membership and skip to the end of this lesson for some supplemental commentary on partnership variances in ”Type 2″ double requirements and associated balancing seat bids.

Now let’s check out some of the material in Barbara’s book, “Bridge – 25 Ways to Compete in the Bidding.”

This time RHO East begins:  (1C) – ?

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A K 7 4
8 4
A 9 2
♣ Q 9 6 3

You should not say “double”; partner is too likely to bid Hearts.  You are not strong enough to bid twice, and your partner will not approve if you put this hand down in dummy having promised support for all of the unbid suits…. You should not be afraid to double with few high cards, if your shape makes up for it.  Look at this collection:

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ K J 10 4
A 10 9 4

♣ Q 9 8 7 5

Although you have only 10 HCP, the fantastic shape more than compensates for that.  This is a clear takeout double of a 1 Diamond opening.  The better your shape, the fewer high cards you need for a double, and vise versa.

We recommended earlier that there are two other hand types on which you can also start with a double.  Basically, these are the two types of hands that are too strong for any other action:

  1. 1.      A very strong one-suited hand – double and then bid your suit next round (16+ points and a six-card suit, or 18+ points and a five-card suit).
  2. 2.      A hand too strong to overcall 1 notrump – double then bid notrump next round (19+ points and a balanced hand)  BridgeHands note: Implied with this bidding sequence is that the doubler has a few stoppers in RHO’s suit.

Exercises from Barbara Seagram: On each hand, RHO opens:  (1H) – ?

  ♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ —


♣ —
  ♠ A Q 4 2
6
Q J 5 2
♣ K J 3 2

This is a classic takeout double of 1 Heart.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ K Q 8 2
K 4
A 10 6 3
♣ Q 8 5

Double. Your shape is not as good this time, but the extra high cards compensate for that.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ K 9 8 5
A 8 3
K 10 9 8
♣ K 2

Pass. Although you hold a solid opening bid, you have both too many Hearts and not enough Clubs for a takeout double.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A K J 4 3
3
J 7 6 5
♣ A 9 5

Bid 1 Spade. Although your hand is suitable for a takeout double, the chances are that you belong in a Spade contract. Partner will not bid Spades on Q-x-x and if he responds to your double by bidding 2 Clubs, you are not strong enough to bid Spades later. If you are to reach your 5-3 Spade fit, you must overcall now.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A Q 5
7 2
K J 6
♣ K 8 7 5 4

Double. Your suit is not strong enough for a 2 Club overcall. You have adequate support for the other two suits and short Hearts, so make a takeout double.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A K Q 6 4 2
A 7 4
A J 3
♣ 9

Double. You are too strong to overcall. If you overcall 1 Spade, you will miss game when partner has a few scattered values but short Spades. If you overcall 4 Spades, you will miss slam when partner has just the right cards (a 4 Spade overcall would be preemptive and show more Spades but fewer Aces – usually less than 10 HCP). There is no rush with hands this strong. Start slowly with a double, conserving bidding space, so that you can investigate fully. As we have seen, when you double and later bid your own suit, you are showing a very good hand.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ A 7 4 2
A 6
J 9 7 5 2
♣ K 2

Pass. You have the wrong shape for a double, and a 2 Diamond overcall on that suit would be asking for trouble. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and hope the opponents bid to a contract that you might beat.

♠ —


♣ —
♠ —


♣ —
N
W E
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ K 10 9 2

J 9 7 5 2
♣ A Q 9 8

Double. Despite having only 10 HCP, you should make a takeout double and not be ashamed of it. Compare this to hand #2, which as 4 HCP more. This is a much better takeout double than that was. A void is a powerful feature as it provides ruffing power in the dummy and reduces the value of the enemy high cards.

If you’d like to see the associated videos with commentary and animate card bidding:
Click here to view Part 1
Click here to view Part 2
Copyrighted by BridgeHands

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Warm Regards,

Michael
BridgeHands

Comments

  1. Charles Lawson says:

    Michael,

    Good lesson on TOx. It’s Interesting that the majority chose hand #4. A lot of players just don’t understand using takeout doubles in competition with a strong one suited hand. They think overcalls are unlimited in strength.

    Charles

  2. BridgeHands says:
    Hello Charles,
    Yes, at some point after missing too many games with unusually strong hands, we learn better methods. Of course, this supposes our partner is in tune with our “new and improved” self! Lacking that, one does the best they can – perhaps jumping to game and hoping for the best (or worst if they miss slam).
    Bottom line, we’re all on the journey…
    Warm Regards, Michael
  3. BridgeHands says:
    Greetings, Bridge friends,
    .
    At the end of our first day of polling, while a combined 10 percent weren’t fond of one of the first three hands, the heavy hitting votes at the poll go to:
    .
    47 percent – AKQJ92__H: AJ10__D: 76__C: A2
    43 percent – None – I would initially Double with each of these hands
    .
    Those who would prefer not to double with the big hand and long Spades must have another bid in mind, probably 1 Spade or 4 Spades. While either might work out okay from time to time, a more advanced method is to use the so-called “Type 2 Double,” where doubling and then bidding a new suit of your own shows a very good hand and suit. But if you are your partner aren’t into this method, then of course one does the best they can with the tools at their disposal.
    .
    Actually, good educators should be learning at least as much as their students – feedback should make all of us better at our trade. So when we see votes tipping in an unexpected direction, we appreciate the opportunity to use the feedback to adjust our future lessons. Here the point is that we shouldn’t be too concerned that the lesson was too basic for most of our audience – hopefully more than half of the pollers gained some insights on the first phase of Takeout Doubles. And of course, now we have a foundation on which to grow.
    .
    So we will continue to ratched lessons up a litttle, down a bit to maintain a balanced focus. And for those of you yearning for the devil in the details, check out our supplemental Part 3 video where we delve into some advanced methods and partnership agreements (balancing seat bids and range considerations for Type 2 doubles).
    .
    Happy Bridge Trails, Michael
    • Christel says:

      I didn’t understand how it was the LHO who opened for us to get a chance for a take out????
      Implying that the following 2 players passed, right?
      Then the x becomes a balancing x!!!!Still for take-out.
      Is that what you had in mind?
      Or did the typist just make a boo-boo and nobody caught it?

  4. BridgeHands says:
    Hi Christel,
    .
    Here’s a diagram of the bidding from Poll #28 where LHO opened the bidding:
    .
    (1D) – P – (P) – X;
    .
    Yes Christel, you are right on both accounts:
    1. Our intended wording was RHO, not LHO!
    2. After LHO opens 1D and two passes, we are in the balancing seat making a Takeout Double.
    .
    Fortunately, regardless of whether its RHO or LHO who opened the bidding (implying two passes), each of the four hands qualify for a Takeout Double call. And while this lesson did not cover many of finer points as balancing seat Takeout Doubles, we’ve discussed the general notion to “borrow a King” from partner when making a call.
    .
    Many thanks for pointing out the typos in the polling question!
    Michael
  5. Richard Starn says:

    Can a player make a takeout double bid twice? Today my RHO made a takeout double bid, their partner passes, and when it was their turn to make a second bid they again said double. I said that the second bid was a penalty double, but they insisted it was a second takeout double bid.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Richard,
      .
      As is often the case, “it depends…” (on partnership agreements). At lower contract levels, say 2 Spades or below, the second double by partner normally ought to be played for takeout and not penalty. But even in that situation, it’s always your option to convert the takeout double to a penalty double with a 5+ long suit in the opponents trump denomination and little else.
      .
      When the bidding gets higher, up in the 3 level territory, then many players consider partners second double as “cooperative” or “optional,” meaning it’s up to the advancer (partner of the doubler) whether to leave in the double for penalty or take it out to an unbid suit. In fact some players quip that when partner rolls the proverbial dice and make a second double, whenever the partner ultimately is found to make an incorrect guess on whether to bid or leave in the double for penalty (in a vexing situation), then it’s always the advancer is to blame – an unfair assessment!
      .
      While books could be written on this topic, at a minimum we should consider whether or not the opponents are bidding the SAME or DIFFERENT suits. When they are freely bidding the same suit – an “OBAR” (Opponents Bid And Raise), then partner’s second double up through 3 Hearts should probably be considered for takeout:
      (1H) – X – (2H) – P;
      (3H) – X
      While if the opponents are bidding a misfit, in this situation a three level double seems to be for penalty:
      (1H) – X – (1S) – P;
      (3H) – P – (3S) – P;
      (P) – X
      .
      Happy Doubling,
      Michael

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