After West opened the bidding, usually with 1D, most Norths ended up playing in 2S, a few in 3S, and not one EW pair that I saw at our Hutt club played in the ‘par’ contract of 3H. From that it seems clear that few, if any, average club players, understand the takeout double or its uses, even if they at times say they play ‘takeout’ or ‘negative’ doubles. There are other important aspects to the following deal as well, but for now .......

Board 19 from Monday 16/03/2020
Dlr S EW Vul


Most Wests opened this hand with 1D. Most Norths overcalled either 1S or 2S and EW then had difficulty in knowing what to do next. I believe the 1S overcall is quite ineffectual and whether you play weak or intermediate jump overcalls, 2S is much more likely to achieve anything. Neither of the bids should prevent EW from finding their right spot, which is 3H. So, let’s take a look.

If North overcalls 1S, East has a perfectly good takeout double IF that means and says what I think it should: “partner, I have at least four HEARTS and a good enough hand for you to be able to play 2H if you have four hearts, or if you don’t. I can stand a rebid of 2D from you”. That last bit is not one that East can look forward to hearing but the importance of being able to tell West about the hand overrides that. If North were to jump to 2S, East can no longer double, because East is simply not strong enough.

To double a jump overcall of 2S, East should have nearer to a ten count and 4+ hearts, with a bid of 3H still being a ‘free bid’ that guarantees five or more hearts and at least 11 HCP. Over a 1S overcall, East still has the ‘free bid’ of 2H available, so the double has strict parameters. West has a very good hand, and should show that with a jump to 3H which East will of course pass, with some trepidation!

And what should happen if North does make a jump overcall of 2S? East has to pass, and South will also pass, but WEST still has a good enough hand to make another move. WEST can now make the takeout double, and East can bid 3H. West clearly has a good enough hand to continue bidding. Fortunately, East does have four hearts so can bid 3H, which West should pass, having squeezed the bid out of East. You may read more about this at a later date. Meantime you can check out the possibilities
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