District 6
Shawn Stringer, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Jun/JulArticle by Steve RobinsonOct/Nov
ArticlesWhat Makes a 1-Level Takeout Double? (Aug/Sep 2009)
I asked my expert panel: The perfect takeout double is 4441 with shortness in the opponent's suit. Supposed you are 3-3-4-3 (four diamonds). What is the minimum hand that you would make a takeout double of 1? What is the minimum hand that you would make a takeout double of 1? 1? 1?

Some experts are very liberal with their takeout doubles. You show strength and hope partner has the distribution. The object is to compete. Suppose you have KxQJ10xxxxxxxx. You are too weak to come in the auction by yourself. However, suppose partner makes a takeout double. You have the distribution to push the opponents up to 3 if they have a spade fit or four-of-a-minor if they have a minor-suited fit. It’s a lot easier to beat them when they are one trick higher. Even -50 or –100 in 3 is better than –110. I think the chances of getting a number or going for a number after one-of-a-minor - double are so slim that I have given up the strength showing redouble. I’d rather use it as a transfer to the next higher suit. I don’t even try to get them.

Marty Bergen---I believe in VERY liberal doubles of 1 or 1 Non-vulnerable, I would double
1 -- AxxAxxAxxxxxx
1 -- AJxAxxxxxxAxx
1 -- AJxxxxAxxxAJx
1 -- xxxAQxA10xxAxx

Drew Casen---If my partner were a passed hand, I would need a minimum of 14 HCP to make such a takeout double of any suit with any 4333 shape. If my partner were an unpassed hand, I would need a minimum of 13 HCP to make such a takeout double of any suit with any 4333 shape.

If you don’t get in right away, it could be too dangerous to get in later. Even if your partner is a passed hand, he could have a five-card suit.

Barry Rigal---I'd double 1 with the right 12-count... in fact unless my values were in clubs, I'd double most 1 openings. I’d double with JxxQxxAQxxKxx (even QJx of clubs), if I were non-vulnerable and not in third seat. Vulnerable or in third seat I might pass initially and hope to balance. Over 1 I'd only act by doubling if strong – I.E. stronger than 1NT overcall. Over 1/1 there are 13/14-counts I'd double with but they would be prime and tend not to have soft tricks in hearts: QxxKxxAQxxKxx looks like a double of 1. But vulnerability and especially position matter, freer in second, tighter in fourth, even more disciplined in third where the risk is highest.

Billy Pollack---Let's assume non-vulnerable, IMPs, in all cases (about a Queen more vulnerable):
1 -- AQxKJxQTxxxxx
1 -- AQxKJxxxxxQJx
1 -- AQxxxxAJxxQJx
1 -- xxxAQxAJxxKJx

Richie Schwartz---I need a minimum opening bid neither vulnerable. Over 1 I would not have any diamond honors. Over 1 I would need more since partner has to bid at the two-level. If they were vulnerable, I would tend to be more conservative and try to beat them 200.

Vulnerable you’d need a better hand since you’re forcing partner to bid at the two-level.

Kit Woolsey---Against a 1 opening, that is good enough shape, so minimal values (12 "points") are sufficient. Against a 1 opening, I'd like a bit more -- 13 points maybe. Against one-of-a-major partner will be expecting a likely four of the other major. Since I don't have it, I should have true extra values -- around strong notrump strength with inadequate stuff in their suit to overcall 1NT. With less, just pass.

Doug Doub---With perfect honor location, that is three small in the opponent's suit, my normal minimum is 13 HCP. If I had 4333 with four of their suit, I would want at least another half a point more. The higher ranking their suit is, the more I would want to double, although not very much more such as an extra ten, or better controls, etc.

Eddie Kantar---Assuming I have no wasted honors in clubs, I would double with 14 or more HCP. I would need at least 15 if the opening bid is 1 and I am vulnerable.

John Mohan---I'm probably old-fashioned in these situations but with vulnerability and form of scoring to provide some variance:
1 -- 14+hcp, no wasted Queen or Jack clubs
1 -- too big to overcall 1NT; otherwise pass
1Maj -- as over 1, but probably more dangerous, so more likely to pass opposite passed hand at IMPs.
Obviously, aggressive (five-card) one-level overcalls and good partnership balancing agreements are necessary here I am reminded of when Norman Kay doubled one-of-a-suit with this exact hand and 14 HCP. Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay then went for 800 at the one level. Norman Kay said, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't!"

David Berkowitz---Vulnerability could matter, vulnerable at IMPs I would need approximately one point more. Non-vulnerable at matchpoints I would need a tad less especially against weak opposition.
1 -- any opener
1 -- 14
1 -- 14+
1 -- 14+
All the above are subject to my holding in the opponent’s suit.

Larry Cohen---Depends on the colors. Also, I presume I don't have the right hand for a 1NT overcall. I'd say about a decent 13 white over 1, maybe a tad more over 1, and at least 14 over 1 and even a little more over 1. Vulnerable, add maybe a jack more to the above.

Chip Martel---Vulnerability and game might matter too. Roughly 13 for 1 and 14 for the rest, though honor distribution is important too. I discount soft cards in their suit.

Jill Myers---It very much depends on the vulnerability. Vulnerable or equal I would be heavy in majors with minimum 13 count but a good 13, regardless of which minor opened. Favorable I could be lighter, decent 12.

Bobby Wolff---
1 -- A decent 12 count, eg, AQxK10xK10xxxxx
1 -- A decent 13 count, eg, AQx KJxK10xxxxx
1 -- A decent 13 count, eg, AQxKxxK10xxJxx
1 -- A decent 14 count, eg, KJxKJxK10xxK10x
Getting in early has mostly advantages and a few disadvantages making it a positive to bid.

Jeff Rubens---Assuming IMPs and neither side vulnerable and opener is in first position and expressing valuation approximately in HCP,
1 -- 13 HCP outside of club honors under the ace
1 -- 14 HCP outside of diamond honors under the ace (but might pass some hands that would qualify on strength
1 -- 14 HCP outside of heart honors under the ace
1 -- 14 HCP outside of spade honors under the ace
The reasons are different in the different cases. Doubling 1 is more dangerous, but also harder to act safely later.

Dan Morse---Minimum would 13-14 high cards.

Ron Rubin---
1 -- with 12
1 -- with 13
1 -- with13
1 -- with 14.
The quality of the points and location matters to me.

Frank Stewart---I prefer sound initial actions, and in general I would like 14 high-card points -- maybe a point less over a 1 opening. But the key issue for me is whether I have wasted honors in the opening bidder's suit. I would double a 1 opening with KJxxxxAQxxKJx but would pass with KJxKJxAQxxxxx.

I personally would double with both hands.

Larry Mori--- I would double 1 with 12 ½ with good intermediates, double 1 holding four diamonds with 14, double 1 with 13 ½ and double 1 with 14.

Eric Greco---In all these double hands I would discount any Qxx(x) or Jxx(x) in the opponents suit and potentially upgrade Kxx because the ace is usually onside and Kxx often will be the same as Axx when partner has xx for example. Over 1 I’d need a working 12 count or so. Over 1, 1 or 1 I’d need a working 13 count or so. The spot cards also factor in to these point counts and the vulnerability as well. I need slightly more the worse the vulnerability is for me, and the least at favorable.

Mel Colchamiro--- My personal guideline is that with 4333 shape and three cards in their suit that they open at the one-level, I have 13+ HCP discounting unconnected Queen and or Jack in their suit. If I have four cards in their suit and not enough to overcall1NT, 95% of the time I pass.

Joe Kivel---I'd double one-of-a-minor with 13 points, but I'd devalue Queens, Jacks, and especially lower honors in opponent’s suit. Over one-of-a-major I need slightly stronger hand: 1NT strength without a stopper.

Bart Bramley--- I'm an extremist in favor of balanced takeout doubles. With 3343 I double 1 with most 12-HCP hands, including those with wastage in clubs. Same if the opening is in one of my three-card majors. Occasionally I make allowances when partner is a passed hand, or we're vulnerable, or my honors are soft, but I usually regret it. I have had very good luck with this style for a long time. I draw the line at 12 HCP. When I experimented down to 11 it didn't work nearly as well. This includes the case where I am a passed hand.

My theory is that balanced doubles let you get in and out safely. The opponents have a hard time nailing you, and your partner is in good position to introduce any side suit. I find this a much safer way to compete for partscores than passing first and balancing later. The slow route is riskier, as the opponents have exchanged more information. A corollary is that if I don't get in right away with a balanced hand I'll stay out forever. Also, I expect my partners to bid under the assumption that I have a normal classic takeout double. This usually works out even when I have a balanced hand. When I have FOUR of RHO's suit I tend to stay out, despite reports to the contrary. With 14 HCP I'll consider doubling. With 15+ I'll overcall 1NT if my stopper is the ten or better.

Steve Beatty---I need 14 pure HCP. Only ace of their suit counts.

QJx is the worst holding in their suit. It will be worth nothing if the suit is divided 5332 and the opponents get a ruff.

Steve Bloom---I strongly dislike 4-3-3-3 takeout doubles. Dummy is usually a disappointment, and Betty likes to use the Law to judge competitive auctions when I double, placing me with at most two cards in their suit. That said, absolutely pure hands look like doubles to me, i.e., AQxAxxAxxxxxx is a double of 1, but if the auction goes poorly, I take the blame. 4-3-3-3 hands look like notrump or defense to me, and I much prefer to overcall a stopperless 1NT than double for takeout. Consider your options over, say, a 1 opening. We've all learned to avoid overcalling with the death holding in spades, xxx, but similar principles apply to doubling. Do you really want to declare the hand when our spades are 3-3 or 3-4? Betty, by the way, virtually never doubles with 4-3-3-3 hands. She is convinced that we lose whenever I judge such a hand worth a double.

Jon Wittes---I would be hesitant to make a takeout double of 1, unless I have a hand too good to overcall 1NT. However, I would make a takeout double of any of the other bids with any hand with a full opening bid. The rationale behind this is that it is very difficult to back in to an auction without ideal distribution. At least if I double immediately, I have shown my approximate strength, gotten into the auction at a low level, and can leave the rest to partner.

There are a few experts who are conservative about 4333 distributions.

Adam Wildavsky---Not much difference for any of the four. I'd need about enough for a strong notrump overcall. In my usual methods that's 16.

John Carruthers---Over one-of-a-minor, I would need a strong notrump. Over one-of-a-major I would need a strong notrump without a stopper.

Marinesa Letizia---This is actually one of my real pet peeves. My takeout doubles are very disciplined with at least 11 HCP in the unbid suits. I need at least three cards in all unbids except for equal level conversion. With 4333, I probably would need a huge hand, certainly more than 16.

There is nothing wrong with making a takeout double with 4333 distribution. Doubling gets you in the auction at a safe level. You do need extras to double 1 vulnerable.
Don Berman, Web Master.