Doubling in Standard American

Doubling for takeout occurs when the opposition have opened and you as wish to enter the bidding. You must have a strong hand with at least 3 cards in every unbid suit, and you want partner to choose the best suit for the combined hands.

What are the two types of doubling?

Doubling for Takeout

(this double means you have a strong hand and want to win the contract and for your side to play the hand) How can you tell the difference? Takeout doubles are made by writing “X” on the bidding pad on the very first turn the defense has an opportunity to bid. In essence it says to partner “I’ve got a strong (opening) hand, and at least three cards in every unbid suit and partner please bid your best of the unbid suits.” The doubler understands that in the absence of an opposition bid after the double their partner is forced to bid even with no points. Usually the takeout doubler is very interested in their partners holding in the unbid Major suit. In this category of takeout doubles there are several subtypes, for example support, reopening, negative and balancing takeout doubles.

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Doubling for Penalties

(this double means you don’t want to play you want to penalise the opposition)
You can double a contract if your opponents arrive at a final contract that either you or your partner think is just too high. For example, if the opponents bid 7NT (notrump), meaning that they must take all 13 tricks, and you’re on lead with an ace, you know that they can’t take all 13 tricks. Penalty doubles are made by writing “X” on the bidding pad and are usually made near or at the end of an auction, there must be at least three Passes “P” after a double before the auction can close.

You can  “Double” for penalties when it’s your turn to bid.  If you defeat the doubled contract, you get at least double your normal penalty score for the under tricks however if the opponents make the doubled contract, they get double their trick score plus 50 for the insult. 

Redoubling for Penalties 

(this double means you don’t want to play you want to penalise the opposition) If your opponents have doubled you and you or your partner think that you will actually make your contract, when its your turn bid you can re-double (“I bet we can make it!”) their double. The penalties are then  much larger than if the contract had been just doubled. A redouble is written “XX” on the bidding pad. 

The opposition opening the bidding with 1♥…. What do you bid with this hand?

Your Hand

  • ♠A K 3 2
  • ♥7 4
  • ♦K Q J 3
  • ♣K 6 5

Your bid is “X”, a takeout double. What you are saying is “partner I have at least 3 cards in every other suit with a shortness in the bid suit- you must bid your longest suit even if you have zero points.

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