Passion of The Game of Bridge

Negative Double vs TakeOut Double: No more confusion

Negative Double vs TakeOut Double: No more confusion

Most bridge players play both takeout double and negative double on their system. Although very similar in principle, there are quite subtle different that we all should be aware. This differences might determine whether you miss a game or not.

Let refresh the understanding about both doubles:

  • Takeout Double: is a competitive bid that you made after opponent bid. It’s “competitive” as you try to compete with opponent bid. This bid is usually to show:
    (1) at least 11+HCP (Only do 11hcp with the classic 3 suiter 4-4-4-1)
    (2) No good 5 cards overcall (with 5-4-4-0 usually it’s useful to overcall the 5 card suit,
    but if it’s bad suit i.e: no honour, treat it as 4 cards and do double instead).
    Of course if you are  strong (16+hcp) you may have to double first before revealing your suit.
    (3) you have shortness in opponent suit (1 or 2 cards – with 3 cards (4-3-3-3), only do it if maximum otherwise just pass)
    (4) With 11-15hcp, usually you will not bid again (you have described your hand)
    .
  • Negative Double: is a defensive bid that you made after partner open and your RHO (Right Hand Opponent) make an overcall bid. It’s “defensive” because it is a way to keep the communication channel open between you and your partner opening. This bid is usually to show:
    (1) at least 7+HCP (some do with 6HCP) – depends on your system
    (2)you don’t have good 5 cards to bid competitively and you don’t have stopper in opponent suit to bit No Trump (NT)
    (3)you do not need to have shortness in opponent suit (meaning with 3 or 4 cards you can still make this negative double as long as other requirement is met)
    (4)usually you will be able to bid again to sign off (preference) or to invite/forcing.
    (5)you have 4-4 on the other unbid suits and some tolerance on partner suit (maybe 2 cards) -or- just want to ask partner to bid his/her second suit if you have many point or fit
    .

Then let us start with the first example:

Hand #1

South West North East
Pass 1 1
??? .
e[n/s]w
AT92 Dealer: West
A8 Vul: None
Q2
Q7632

On this hand, you cannot bid 1S as it promises 5 cards (maybe with AKQx I still can bid 1S). 2C also not desireable as the quality of the suit is poor. Yes, negative double probably the best alternative.

With the same distribution, say if partner did not open and opponent open 1H, can you do takeout double? No.  Although the point requirement is met, you need to have 3 cards Diamond. So, takeout double promises at least 3 cards on 3 other suits, but negative double only promise 4 cards on 2 unbid suits.

Hand #2

Let us change the hand above a little bit, under the same situation

South West North East
Pass 1 1
??? .
e[n/s]w
AT92 Dealer: West
Q432 Vul: None
A
Q762

Same points , but you have longer heart. Not strong enough to declare stopper (only have half stopper) and also probably not strong enough to penalized opponent in level 1 (By passing, partner then can do double and you just pass converting it to penalty). Yes, you can still do negative double, prominently promising Spade and Club.

With the same distribution, say if partner did not open and opponent open 1H, can you do takeout double? No.  Although the point requirement is met, you do not have shortness in Heart, also you need to have 3 cards Diamond, Pass instead. So, takeout double implies shortness on opponent suit while negative double does not.

Hand #3

Now, let us change the hand again

South West North East
Pass 1 1
??? .
e[n/s]w
AT92 Dealer: West
Q432 Vul: None
A2
Q76

On this hand, still the same point as previous hands, but you don’t have 4 cards Club. Can you still do negative double? Yes. If partner bid Club or Diamond, you can still play in NT, by asking stopper cuebid 2H or 3H. As for takeout double (should partner did not open but RHO did), you still cannot o take out for the same reason as Hand #2.

Hand #4

And finally how about this hand:

South West North East
Pass 1 1
??? .
e[n/s]w
AJ43 Dealer: West
J32 Vul: None
KJ2
Q86

The horrible 4-3-3-3 distribution. Yes, negative double is still on. As for the takeout, I would probably do takeout if I got another King otherwise, just pass (if partner take out, then do forcing bid)

Conclusion

Compare to takeout double, negative double has more relax characteristic which will cover more possibility of hand. It is make sense that way. Why? When partner open and you have 7+ points, at least your side have equal point than opponent (partner could still be stronger) – so just need to find the best fit. But when you do take out, partner could have 0 points – hence the extra consideration.

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