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Play, Defence even Bid for Newer Players


When the opposition open the bidding with a suit bid at the one level, we double to show an opening hand reasonably balanced between the other three suits apart from opener’s. There is, though, another type of hand for which we use a take-out double. Take the following hand:

Spade-small A6

Heart-small AKJT54

Diamond-small K82

Club-small J3

We have a strong hand with a long and strong suit. If we simply overcall 1Heart-small, our partner might pass with a few scattered points but without heart support. We might have enough to make game but no-one would bid over 1Heart-small.

So, a second hand type for the take-out double is single suited with at least 16hcp. Whatever happens after the double (well, almost whatever!), you can bid hearts at the lowest possible level to show this hand type.

This was the bidding when this hand occurred:

West          North         East            South


X                 1Diamond-small              Pass            1NT (12-14)

2Heart-small              2Spade-small              3Heart-small              All Pass

As you will see, East did not have a very strong hand but was able to bid just once knowing that their partner had a strong hand with hearts. Had West held an even stronger hand (say a 20 count), they would have raised to game. West knew East was very weak and being on the minimum end for the hand type they had shown, passed the 3Heart-small bid. These were the 4 hands:

East Deals
N-S Vul
K J 4 2
J 10 9 7 6 3
K 4
A 6
A K J 10 5 4
K 8 2
J 3
W   E
9 8 7 3
Q 7 2
5 4
Q 9 8 2
Q 10 5
8 6 3
A 10 7 6 5
West North East South
    Pass 1 
Dbl 1  Pass 1 NT
2  2  3Heart-small All Pass


North led Club-smallK and a second club hoping to get a ruff with their trump. South won and played a third club on which West ruffed with the Heart-smallT. West played a low heart to the queen and a diamond towards the king, hoping despite North’s diamond bid that South the opening bidder, held the Diamond-smallA so that the Diamond-smallK would score a trick.

South won and played a fourth club. West did not ruff this but threw the Spade-small6, a certain loser. If North did ruff, West was no worse off than losing the spade trick….but, as you can see, North’s trump had been drawn. Therefore, the Club-smallQ won in dummy. Next came a diamond towards the king and then a third diamond, ruffed with the Heart-small7 in dummy. South over-ruffed but the defence could not take any more tricks as declarer had all trumps (higher than South's remaining trump) and the Spade-smallA left.

The defence had taken two high clubs, the Diamond-smallA and the over-ruff in dummy. Declarer had made their contract.

Eagle-eyed players may observe that an initial trump lead from North, an extremely unlikely lead, does beat the contract as declarer can be deprived of their diamond ruff in dummy and loses two clubs, two diamonds and a spade.

In reality, 9 tricks should be made on any other lead. Note the use of the take-out double to show a strong single-suited hand. It does not only enable partnerships to bid to game where one partner is very strong and the other very weak…but enables them to compete to the right part-score level too.

Richard Solomon




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