Take out doubles

Take Out Doubles

Take out doubles are a hugely useful bid. You don’t usually want to double for penalties if opponents have not reached game. Instead of wasting the double card at the beginning of the auction, we use it to show a very specific kind of hand.

What Does a Take Out Double Show?

Take out doubles only apply if the opponents open in a suit (a double of NT is always for penalties). If opponents open a suit then doubling shows –

  • Shortage in oppositions suit
  • Opening points (12+)
  • Support for the other 3 suits (including a 4 card major if you double the other major)

This is why take out doubles are also sometimes known as SOS doubles (Shortage, Opening points, Support)

When East doubles they are showing a hand with 12+ points, short in hearts and support for the other suits. Because they have doubled hearts they are also promising a 4 card spade suit.

If you are in the pass out seat then you might consider doubling with a slightly less than ideal hand. If opponents open and it goes pass pass then it is likely that partner has some strength and just had a hand unsuitable for overcalling. 

Why are they so useful?

Doubling is useful for several reasons

  • It doesn’t take up any bidding space so it limits the risk of getting too high in the auction
  • It allows you to show 3 suits at once
  • It allows you to bid on hands without a 5 card suit to overcall

Forcing or Non-forcing?

If partner makes a take out double then this may or may not be a forcing bid. It depends on whether the next hand bids.

In this auction the hand after the double has passed. This means that West is now FORCED to bid something.

This time South has bid something. This makes the double NON-FORCING. West can still bid if they want, but they are allowed to pass.

Responding to a Take Out Double

Usually when responding to a take out double the right thing to do is to imagine that partner has opened 1 of your longest suit and respond as you would in that situation. One exception to this is if your longest suit was bid by opposition!

Spades are West’s longest suit. If East had opened 1♠, then West would have responded 2♠ to show 6-9 points and spade support. It means exactly the same thing here.

Be careful if you are forced to bid. In this situation bidding at the lowest available level shows no points. You may have to jump to show if you do have some points.

Spades are West’s longest suit. If East had opened 1♠, then West would have responded 2♠ to show 6-9 points and spade support. BUT this time West is forced to bid. Since they do have 9 points they need to jump to 3♠ to show this.

If your partner doubles and you have a balanced hand then you can respond in NT, but you MUST have a stop in opponents suit.

In answer to a double 1NT shows 6-9 points, 2NT shows 10-12 and 3NT shows 13+.