DRC Bridge Lecture for Hearts Ch9 (May 8, 2017)

Our chapter for today — ACBL’s Heart Series, 2nd Ed., Ch. 9 — explains Negative Doubles and Reopening Doubles for a partnership. These low-level conventional bids are useful for when one of the partners has no available natural bid. For example, this partner may not have a Golden Fit with Opener, a new 5c suit of their own, a NT hand with stoppers in Opponents’ bid suits, or the HCP for a 2-level bid. You may download this lesson in one of the two following formats:

  1. Paragraph: ACBL Hearts Ch9 Para
  2. Outline: ACBL Hearts Ch9 Note.doc

Negative Double (Neg. X)

Concept:  A Neg. X is a convention, meaning it has no natural meaning. This is Responder’s 1st bid. The convention solves the problem of how Responder is to bid when their values or length are insufficient for a natural suit bid, their support is insufficient for a raise, and their stoppers are insufficient for a natural NT bid.

Natural Bidding: A Responder bidding a new suit at the 1-Level promises a 4c suit and ≥ 6 PVP. A Responder bidding a new major at the 2-Level promises a 5c suit and ≥ 11 PVP. These natural bids are not affected by RHO’s pass, or RHO’s overcalls such as 1m, 1M, X.

SAYC: A Neg. X is an acceptable Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC) bid. Opener’s bid must be 1S or less. The Overcaller’s bid must be natural, 2S or less, and not 1NT.

Typical Requirements: The Neg. X guarantees that Responder has 4c support in any unbid suit and a minimal 2c support in Partner’s suit (eg, hx). The book says that Hhx would be the minimum 3c equivalent to a 4c suit, where H is a top honor (AK) and h is a low honor (QJ). A Responder making a 1-Level overcall has ≥ 6 PVP.1 A Responder making a 2-Level overcall has ≥ 8 PVP.

Minimal Requirements:  A Responder may not have 4c support for both unbid suits. Lacking 4c support, what would be nearly equivalent? The book says that an unbid 3c suit of Hhx would be adequate as 4c support, where H is a top honor (AK) and h is a low honor (QJ). An unbid 2c minor of xx would be adequate as 4c support if the Doubler had 3c xxx support for Opener’s suit, and intended to raise that suit if Opener switched to the 2c minor.

Preferences: A Responder with sufficient values for either 2M or Neg. X should prefer the 2M bid as more descriptive. After Opener begins with 1M, a Responder with sufficient values for either a minor-suit cuebid or a Neg. X should prefer the cuebid. After Opener begins with 1M and Overcaller bids 2m, a Responder with sufficient values for either a minor-suit bid or a Neg. X should prefer the Neg. X. A Responder with 5-4 distribution in the unbid suits and sufficient values for game in either suit should bid the 5c suit cheaply (either the 1-, 2-, or 3-Level) and next bid the 4c suit.

Reopening Double (Reo. X)

Concept: A Reopening Double is similar to a Neg. X, except it is made as Opener’s 2nd bid.

Balancing Seat: If Opener’s rebid follows two passes, then Opener should reopen the bidding. A Reo. X assumes that Responder failed to bid because Overcaller bid Responder’s intended suit. For a Reo. X, Opener should have ≤ 3c holding in Overcaller’s suit and ≥ 3c support for all unbid suits.

Exceptions to Reo. X

Two Suiter: An Opener with ≥ 5c holdings in two suits or ≥ 6c in the second suit should bid one of these suits naturally, not bid a Reo. X.

Flat Hand: An Opener with a balanced hand and ≥ 3c holding in Opponent’s suit should pass.

1m – 2NT Equivalent: An Opener with 18-19 HCP opens a minor, listens to Responder, and then jumps in NT. The book says that if Responder does not bid or X, then Opener can show the same 18-19 HCP hand by bidding NT cheaply, such as 1♦ – 1♥ – P – P – 1NT.

Opener’s Rebid after a Neg. X

Strength of Opener: The rebid depends on whether Opener is a Min, Med, or Max hand.

  • Opener is a Min: Responder must get a 2nd bid. If Opponents bid or X, Opener can pass. Otherwise, Opener bids at the cheapest level. Bids have a lesser value than if there were not a Neg. X. For instance, Opener may bid a 4cM at the 2-Level, or may bid a lower suit without the points for a true reverse. A rebid of the original suit cheaply will show a 6c+ suit. A rebid of NT cheaply will show 12-14 HCP with a stopper.
  • Opener is a Med: Opener jumps, regardless if last bid were by Responder or an Opponent. Opener should prefer a new 4cM over a rebid of a 5cm.
  • Opener is a Max: Opener makes a forcing or game bid, such as a slow cuebid or a fast 3NT/4M/5m bid. Opener knows Responder has 4c support and ≥ 6 PVP, so if this is sufficient for game, Opener can jump to game as a point-showing bid.

Minimal Requirements: Opener may not have a 6c suit to rebid, a 4c suit to introduce, or a stopper for NT. In this case, Opener may bid a very strong 3cM with the intention of passing next. The example on page 378 shows a 3c holding of Hhh.

Level of Bidding: Opener should not pass a single overcall, but may pass if both Opponents are bidding. Remember that Responder has promised sufficient partnership values to support Opener’s rebid at the current levels.

Responder’s Rebid after a Neg. X

Strength of Responder: The rebid depends on whether Responder is a Min, Med, or Max hand.

  • Responder is a Min (6-9 PVP): If Opener has bid 2 suits, then Responder gives preference. If Responder has a rebiddable 5cM, then bid this suit cheaply. Otherwise, Responder passes.
  • Responder is a Med (10-11 PVP): Responder must do more than a minimum would. Hence, acceptable bids are raise Opener’s 2nd suit, jump in Opener’s 1st suit, bid NT cheaply with a stopper. [Note that in Exercise Three, problem #2, the solution shows a jump in Opener’s 2nd suit.]
  • Responder is a Min (12+ PVP): Responder makes a forcing or game bid, such as a slow cuebid or a fast 3NT/4M/5m bid.

Exception When Opener Has Passed: If Responder is a Med or Max, Responder should reopen the bidding with a 2nd Neg. X. The partnership holds more than 1/2 the points, so the contract belongs to them.

Test of Comprehension

  1. Neg. X by Responder: Go to Exercise One. (p. 384). Try all.
  2. Opener’s Rebid after Responder’s Neg. X: Go to Exercise Two. (p. 386). Try all.
  3. Rebid by Responder Who Bid Neg. X: Go to Exercise Three. (p. 388). Try 3.
  4. Bidding Practice w/ Neg. X: Go to Exercise Four. (p. 390). Try all.

Hands to Play, from Hearts = “ACBL Defense in the 21st Century” (404p)

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
Hearts P. 360 #8-5 E N 4 9 A
Hearts P. 362 #8-6 S E 3NT 5 B
Hearts P. 364 #8-7 N S 4 J C
Hearts P. 366 #8-8 W W 3NT Q D
Hearts P. 392 #9-1 N N 4 A E
Hearts P. 394 #9-2 W E 3NT J F
Hearts P. 396 #9-3 S S 4 7 G
Hearts P. 398 #9-4 E W 1NT 7 H


  1. E=16 PVP. W=11 PVP. E holds 16 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). W holds 11 HCP + (0LP or 0DP). E opens 1NT. W bids Stayman, E responds in S, and W goes to 4♠ game. S with a ranking trump and shortage, leads their doubleton. N can tell from Dummy that S does not have a ♦ suit. N ducks the doubleton lead with a high signal. When S wins in trumps, S leads another ♦. N provides a ruff. Eventually Declarer loses a ♣. [Note that if W realizes they have a 4-3-3-3 NT hand, and jumps to 3NT rather than Stayman, this contract makes.] Down 1. (-50 nv)
  2. S=17 PVP. N=11 PVP. S holds 17 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). N holds 11 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). S opens 1NT with a worthless doubleton (not a promising idea). N has the points and a 4-3-3-3 hand, jumps to 3NT. W leads 4th best, E plays 3rd hand high. E returns the lead, but W with no outside entries ducks. When E wins the A♦, they lead ♠ back to W. [Note that if S realizes they have a worthless doubleton, the team finds 4H, which makes.] Down 1. (-50 nv)
  3. N=13 PVP. S=19 PVP. N holds 10 HCP + (3LP or 2DP). S holds 18 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). S opens 1♦, intending to bid 2NT next. N bids 1♠ with a 6c suit and 2 outside KQ sequences. N has zero ruffing possibilities, but goes to 4♠ anyway. E leads top of ♥ sequence, W encouraging. W wins two ♥ tricks, wins the A♣, and leads another ♥. S must trump high, promoting an honor trump in W. [Note that this contract is doomed in 3NT, also.] Down 1. (-50 nv)
  4. W=16 PVP. E=11 PVP. W holds 16 HCP + (0LP or 0DP). E holds 10 HCP + (1LP or 1DP). W opens 1NT. E with points but no major jumps to 3NT. N leads top of ♥ sequence, S shows a doubleton. On the lead of a ♣, S plays 2nd hand high, and then drives out the K♥. When N gains the lead, N runs the ♥. Down 1. (-50 nv)
  5. N=13 PVP. S=13 PVP. N holds 13 HCP + (0LP or 3DP). S holds 12 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). N opens a 4cm with 1♦. E overcalls in ♥. S makes a Neg. X and they end in 4♠. E leads top of ♥ sequence, W encouraging with the Q to show the J. Declarer finesses the K♦ unsuccessfully, later pulls trumps. Making +1. (+450 nv)
  6. W=12 PVP. E=11 PVP. W holds 12 HCP + (0LP or 3DP). E holds 13 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). E opens a 4cm with 1♦. S overcalls in ♥. W makes a Neg. X and they end in 3NT. N leads partner’s ♥. Declarer’s only hope is for the ♣ finesse to work. It does. Making +1. (+430 nv)
  7. S=14 PVP. N=16 PVP. S holds 13 HCP + (1LP or 2DP). N holds 15 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). S opens a 4cm with 1♦. W overcalls in ♠. N makes a Neg. X and they end in 4♥. W with two entries tries a singleton lead. Declarer refuses the free finesse, instead pulls trumps. Making game. (+420 nv)
  8. E=14 PVP. W=9 PVP. E holds 14 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). W holds 8 HCP + (0LP or 1DP). E opens a 4cm with 1♦. S overcalls in ♠. W makes a Neg. X and they end in 1NT. S leads 4th best 7♠. Declarer has 7 tricks from the lead. Making the contract. (+40 nv)

_ _ _ _ _ _

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. All points discussed in this paper are PVP unless they are specially identified as HCP only.

Student Notes: (nb: The latest version of “ACBL Hearts Ch9 Para.docx” may be downloaded at BetterBridge.blog.)

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