Takeout Doubles and Advances

YMCA Bridge Lecture for BB2 Ch3 (March 21, 2017)

Our chapter for today — Audrey Grant’s Bridge Basics 2 series, Ch. 3 — tells how to double and advance with a hand not suited for overcalls. Such hands might be too strong, not have a good 5c+suit, or have too many good 4c suits for a simple overcall. The double relays back to partner the choice of levels or suits. You may download this lesson in one of the two following formats:

  1. Paragraph: AG BB2 Ch3 Para
  2. Outline: AG BB2 Ch3 Note.docx


Definition of Doubles: A penalty double is a bid that announces a doubt that the previous bidder can make their contract. Doubles of 1NT, 2NT, or game are always for penalty. Any other X is a takeout double (TOX), asking partner to enter the auction constructively or to stay out of the auction destructively. Our Convention Cards show how high our various takeout doubles end, such as 2♠ for a negative double. Doubles below our maximum takeout levels are meant as constructive bids. An advancer who believes the score available for competing to be less than the score for defending can make a destructive bid by converting the takeout double into a penalty double. Advancer by-passes partner’s take out, which is a doubt that the Opponents can make their doubled contract.

Example of TOX: Either partner might have no 5c suit, have two 4c suits, not have a NT hand, be too strong, or be crowded from their preferred bid by Opponents’ bid or jump. In a negative double by Responder, your partner, Opener, bids a suit that you can’t support. Overcaller bids your other short suit. You don’t have stoppers in Responder’s suit nor the points to bid your own suits at the 2-level. Your bid is Double, forcing on partner to take out your double and put the partnership into partner’s longest of the two unbid suits.

Doubler’s First Bid

Strength and Length: A TOX requires similar points as would an opening bid, approximately 13+ PVP. However, a takeout double is based on Dummy Points while an opening bid is based on Length Points. A 1-level double based on 13+ PVP may be as weak as 8 HCP when the hand also has a void worth 5 Dummy Points, or as weak as 10 HCP when the hand also has a singleton worth 3 Dummy Points. A TOX requires 3c+ support for any unbid suits, preferably 4c+ support for unbid majors. Distributions of 4-4-4-1 are ideal. A perfect example would be a medium hand, a singleton in clubs, and RHO opens in clubs.

5c Suits: A 5-4-4-0 distribution has a 5c suit, but it may be a weak 5c suit such as 65432. With a good or rebiddable 5c suit, a potential competitor would overcall in this suit. With strength, they might overcall 1NT. But with a weak 5c suit and a void, a potential competitor would double and then shift to this suit on their second bid. At the 2-level, a double requires a good 5c suit as well as a sound 13+ HCP hand. Note that any hand with a 5c+ suit has shortage elsewhere, such as a 5-4-4-0 void or a 5-3-3-2 doubleton, so PVP ≥ HCP when the hand is valued on Dummy Points.

Strength: A Doubler may be stronger than an Overcaller. An overcall is in a narrow range of 7-17 HCP. A double is at least an opening bid (13 PVP), but is unlimited in its maximum. Due to the unlimited nature of a double, the point ranges are similar but not identical to an opening bid. The three ranges for a Doubler are minimum strength = 13-16 PVP; medium strength = 17-18 PVP; and maximum strength = 19+ PVP. An opening bid that is a maximum has a range of 19-21 PVP.

Anticipation: If you pick up a one-suited hand, plan before the auction to bid that suit. If you pick up a 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 hand, plan before the auction to double Opponents’ bid of your s/v!

Convention Card: You must mark your use and level of negative doubles on your Convention Card; a typical maximum level is 2♠. If you would double with a 3c unbid suit, you must mark your use of minimum off-shape takeout doubles on your Convention Card too.

Advancer’s First Bid

Advancer w/ Suit: Use Length Points. A minimum Advancer bids cheaply, without jumping, anywhere from the 1-level to the 3-level. An advance is not forcing on Doubler. Advancer bids their longest major, unless they have a very good minor. With equal length in majors, Advancer bids the higher. An Advancer must make two descriptions in one bid, showing not only their length but also their strength! An Advancer never makes a bid that is not descriptive about their strength, as Doubler will be unable to place the partnership’s best contract.

  1. Advancer is a Low Minimum (0-5 PVP): If Responder bids, then Advancer need not bid. Doubler will guess your point range correctly.
  2. Advancer is a High Minimum (6-8 PVP): Advancer bids if possible, as their team has ½ the points. Doubler will guess your point range correctly.
  3. Medium (9-11 PVP): Advancer jumps (not forcing, but invitational). Doubler will guess your point range correctly.
  4. Maximum (12+ PVP): Advancer cuebids (forcing) or bids game (not a shutout). If a cuebid, Doubler soars with 4 in the majors. Doubler will guess your point range correctly.

Advancer w/o Suit: Doubler has support for all unbid suits. Advancer should strive to bid their best suit, even if their “best” is not very good or very long. If this is not possible, there are some point ranges that are acceptable for bids in NT, particularly ranges above 10 HCP that include stoppers. Note that every bid below is unique, so Doubler will guess your point range correctly.

  1. Advancer is a Low Minimum (0-5 PVP): If forced by RHO’s pass, bid a suit, even a 3c suit. If RHO bids and you have the unbid suits, then negative double now and a pass on your next bid.
  2. Advancer is a High Minimum (6-8 HCP): Bid NT cheaply. Bid a suit cheaply even when RHO has bid. Note that these are standard bids if uncontested.
  3. Advancer is a Low Medium (9-10 PVP): Jump in your suit. Note that this is stronger than if uncontested.
  4. Advancer is a High Medium to Low Maximum (11-12 HCP): Jump in NT. Jump in Partner’s suit. Note that these are standard bids if uncontested.
  5. Advancer is a Maximum (12+ HCP): Cuebid or bid 3NT (likely a shutout). Note that 3NT is a standard bid if uncontested.

Advancer w/ Many Suits: Partner may have support for all unbid suits, but Partner’s support may not be 4c in every suit. For example, an Overcaller may have 2c support for some unbid suits, while a Doubler may have 3c support for at least one suit. If Advancer wants Overcaller’s/Doubler’s input on choosing a suit, then a double relays the choice back to Doubler, so that Doubler can pick one of the 4c suit.

  1. Negative Double: You are Opener’s RHO. Your partner, Opener’s LHO, doubled or bid. Your RHO, Responder, raised or shifted. You don’t like any of the Opponents’ or Partner’s bid suits. You don’t like NT since you don’t have stoppers in at least one suit. This is your 1st bid. You don’t have a hand strong enough to push up the bidding ladder. You double, because you are too weak for your preferred bid.
  2. Responsive Double: You have support for partner in 2 suits. Responder raises beyond your side suit, so you can’t force the bidding (RoNF). For instance, your suit is ♠ and Responder raised to 3♥, giving you no room to start with your side minor. Double to pass the bidding back to Overcaller. If Overcaller is a minimum and bids cheaply, pass. If Overcaller is stronger, and bids game, also pass. You must mark your use and level of responsive doubles on your Convention Card. You double, because You double, because you are too strong for your preferred bid.

Doubler’s Second Bid

  1. Advancer is a Minimum (0-8 PVP): Be cautious. If Doubler has minimum, medium, maximum hands, then pass, raise, or jump respectively. With a jump, Advancer will move to game with 6+ points.
  2. Advancer is a Medium (9-11 PVP): Doubler passes with ≤ 15 PVP, goes to game otherwise.
  3. Advancer is a Maximum (12+PVP): Doubler bids again after a cuebid. Consider a cuebid to be an ask (about suit first, and when suit is resolved, about level). These bids are forcing to game level.
  4. Doubler is a Maximum (18+ PVP): Doubler will bid a new suit, jump in a suit, cuebid, or double. A Doubler always rebids with a maximum hand, to show the point count. See Practice Deal #21 (max support for Advancer) or Practice Deal #25 (max shift).
  5. Maximal Doubles: Opener is a maximum. Opponents have made an obstructive bid, leaving Opener no space to invite with a side suit. Opener doubles for takeout. Advancer raises the partnership’s suit cheaply with no interest in game, otherwise bids game. You must mark your use and level of maximal doubles on your Convention Card. You double, because you are too strong for your preferred bid.

Table of Doubles and Advances

Doubles w/ Minimum, Medium, Maximum Hands
Doubler Advancer
Hand Points 1st Bid 2nd Bid Hand Points 1st Bid 2nd Bid
Min 13-16 X Pass Min 0-5 Pass if O bids Pass
  13-16 X Pass Min 6 Suit Pass
  13-16 X Pass Min 7-8 Suit Pass
  13-14 X Pass Med 9-11 Jump Pass
  15-16 X Game? Med 9-11 Jump Pass
  13-16 X Game Max 12+ Game Pass
Med 17-18 X Raise Min 0-5 Pass if O bids Suit
  17-18 X Raise Min 6 Suit Suit
  17-18 X Raise Min 7-8 Suit Game
  17-18 X Game Med 9-11 Jump Game
  17-18 X Game+ Max 12+ Game Game+
  17-18 X Cue Max 12+ Game Pick Level
  17-18 X X Max 12+ Game Pick Suit
Max 19+ X Jump Min 0-5 Pass if O bids Pass
  19+ X Jump Min 6 Suit Game
  19+ X Jump Min 7-8 Suit Game
  19+ X Game+ Med 9-11 Jump Game
  19+ X Game+ Max 12+ Game Game+
  19+ X Cue Max 12+ Game Pick Level
  19+ X X Max 12+ Game Pick Suit

Tests of Comprehension

  1. Takeout Doubles: For a test on takeout doubles in 2nd and 4th seats, go to Quiz 1 (p. 118).
  2. Advances to X: For a test on Advancer’s bids to a takeout double, go to Quiz 2 (p. 120).
  3. Doubler’s 2nd Bid: For a test on Doubler’s 2nd bid and a review of the chapter, go to Quiz 3 (p. 122).

Hands to Play, from BB2, Competitive Bidding (230 p.)

Note that we have studied NT, major-suit, and minor-suit bidding, so please bid. However, if you reach a different contract than AG, please play her contract and opening lead. Consider playing the hands as “double dummy” so that everyone at the table can see the offense and defense unfold. If you finish the four hands early, please use the remaining time for dealt hands.

Deck Hands Declarer Dealer Bid Lead Hints
BB2 P. 124 #9 W N 2♦ Q♣ A
BB2 P. 126 #10 N E 4♥ Q♠ B
BB2 P. 128 #11 E S 4♥ A♠ C
BB2 P. 130 #12 S W 1NT Q♠ D


  • A: E=14 PVP. W=8 PVP. North (N) opens 1 to show an opening hand with a 5cM. East (E) has a 3-suited opening hand, so doubles. West (W) picks ♦ at the lowest level. All pass. N leads a 3c honor sequence. Declarer has 6 QT, and hopes to ruff in ♠ and ♥. N/S are entitled to 5 tricks. Making partscore (+90).
  • B: N=11 PVP. S=18 PVP. E opens a better minor. South (S) has a 3-suited maximum hand, so doubles. N with strength and length bids 2♥. S goes to game. E leads a 3c sequence. Declarer has 4 losers with just one entry to Dummy. Since E bid, Declarer finesses E for the missing trump honor. Making game (+420).
  • C: E=13 PVP. W=12 PVP. S opens a 2-suited hand in 1♠. W has good support for any other suit, so doubles. N has nothing. E has an opening hand, a great 5cM, worthless values in the bid suit, and shortage in the unbid suit, so goes to game. S leads top of a broken sequence. Defenders are entitled to 3 tricks. Making game (+620).
  • D: N=14 PVP. S=9 PVP. W opens 1♠. N has good support for any other suit, so doubles. E has nothing. S has stoppers in the bid suit, but no good own suit, so bids 1NT. N doesn’t have the points to continue. All pass. W knows that S has stoppers, but leads their long suit anyway because W has two entries (ie, two Aces). After taking the lead, S has one stopper left in the danger suit. S drives out the A♦. Making partscore (+90).

_ _ _ _ _ _

1PVP: Partnership Valuation Points = HCP + Length Points (for Declarer) + Dummy Points (for Responder). Declarer’s PVP = their HCP + their Length Points. Responder’s PVP = their HCP + their Dummy Points.

Student Notes: (nb: The latest version of AG BB2 Ch3 may be downloaded at BetterBridge.blog.)

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