• NOTE: "in the bank" takeout doubles of an opposing suit bid are unusually not killed even we find ourselves doubling subsequent no-trump bids by the opposition. This is consistent with the fact that we're allowing takeout doubles in the first place after we've doubled the initial 1NT for penalties. This is a special situation. At this level it's possible both to take massive penalties and to double the opponents into game, so it's more important even than usual to know exactly what we're doing.

  • Pass if opponents silentTo play. This is true whatever the meaning of the pass, e.g. forcing.
    Pass if opponents have started wrigglingMight be passing for penalties, hoping partner can find a reopening double. Any subsequent double later in the auction by the player who passed here will be for penalties.
    Redouble from the opponentssee separate table below.
    Pass after a redouble for blood to show strengthTo play, with nothing to say.
    Any other bid after a redouble for blood to show strengthWeak and to play, possibly pre-emptive.
    Double of a natural or semi-natural (e.g. this and another) suit bid if the opponents have started wrigglingTake-out. If on the following round the takeout doubler then pulls his partner's requested takeout bid or bids a new suit over the opposition's continued intervention, the new bid is natural and game-forcing.
    Double of a no-trump bidPenalties, but unusually this doesn't kill the "in the bank" takeout double of a suit that you'll still have available if the opponents suddenly pop up with one.
    Double of an artificial suit bid by the oppositionFREEBIE. Natural "freebie" double, showing that you have that suit and at least a few values, without affecting the "in the bank" takeout double that you'll still have available when the opponents at last make a natural suit bid. Unusually, the "in the bank" take-out double of an opposing suit bid will remain available even if we've doubled subsequent no-trump bids.
    New suit, whether or not the opposition have started wrigglingWeak, to play.
    Jump in suitNatural and invitational with a long suit, but not game-forcing.
    3NTTo play.


    1NT dble 2H (natural) 2Sweak, to play
    1NT dble 2H (natural) dbletakeout
    1NT dble 2C (natural) dble pass 2H pass 2Sthe double was for takeout, after which the 2S bid is natural and game-forcing
    1NT dble 2H (transfer to spades) dblefreebie double, showing a heart suit and not affecting the partnership's "in the bank" takeout double
    1NT dble 2?? (other puppet bid to a known different suit, e.g. spades) dbleanother freebie double, as above
    1NT dble 2H (natural) dble 2S dble2H-dble is takeout, 2S-dble is penalties because we've now used up our "in the bank" double
    1NT dble 2H (natural) pass pass dbletakeout, since partner might have been passing for penalties
    1NT dble 2H (transfer) pass 2S (as requested) dbleagain takeout, as before
    1NT dble 2H (natural) pass 2S dblethis time it's penalties, because opener is bidding spades under their own steam and it's the second denomination that's been bid by that player. The tentative assumption is that partner's pass was for penalties, since a bid would have been weak and to play.
    1NT dble 3S (natural) dbletakeout
    1NT dble 2?? (not showing the suit being bid but instead asking a question of partner, e.g. Stayman) dblefreebie double, not affecting the partnership's "in the bag" takeout double
    1NT dble 2C (Stayman) dble 2NT dble 3H (natural) dblea very silly auction, but I've included it to demonstrate how a few clear principles can simplify a complicated situation. If the first double is for penalties, then the second double is freebie, the third double is penalties and the fourth double is that "in the bank" takeout double that still hadn't been used yet.


  • This table applies after any redouble from the opponents, regardless of its meaning. However that said, a popular convention is for redouble under these circumstances to be a puppet to 2C, showing any single-suited hand. The redoubler is then expected either to pass (if holding clubs) or bid their suit. This is hard to defend against because for obvious reasons there's no "freebie double" available and if holding a good hand that's looking to take a penalty, the next hand after the redouble has no choice but to pass.

  • passQuite possibly a forced pass, since double obviously isn't a legal bid after this sequence! Denies a very weak hand with a long suit that can't bear a penalty double of the opposition, because such a hand can bid its suit immediately with the meaning of "weak and to play". If the passer later turns out to be very weak, they're also flat.
    suit at 2-levelweak, to play
    2NTgame-forcing, very likely to have shape because a flat hand with values will be seeking to penalise the opponents instead.
    suit at 3-levellong suit, invitational. Doubler is allowed to pass, but also to bid game if suitable.
    4 of a minorMinorwood
    any gameto play


  • The 2C bid doesn't promise clubs, but is simply pass-or-correct.

  • passMight be holding a club suit and hoping can partner find a reopening double, although this isn't mandatory.
    doubleTHIS IS NOT FREEBIE. Instead it's takeout, on the presumption that the opponents' suit is clubs. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but that has to be the meaning of a double in this position, against the one-in-four eventuality of responder being about to pass and put down lots of clubs. The rationale to help us remember this is that even though the bid was a forced response, sometimes it's going to be natural for the partnership and so can't be treated as "freebie".
    suit at 2-levelnatural, strong
    2NTunknown two-suiter
    3Cnatural, strong, shows clubs
    jump shiftextremely strong six-card suit or longer, requires very little in addition from partner to make game
    4 of a minorMinorwood
    any gameto play


  • The redoubler has now revealed their suit.

  • doubleTakeout of the now-revealed suit, with the system now being identical to the simpler sequence we'd have followed if the opponents' system hadn't included the wrinkle of a redouble and a 2C puppet response. It's the "in the bank" takeout double that we hadn't used up yet, in other words.
    Copyright 2015 Finn Clark.