Take-out doubles are used when you have enough points to compete but your hand is not suitable for a suit overcall or a 1NT overcall. 


K 4 3 2


A Q 4 2

K 5 3 2

The ideal shape for a take-out double is 5-4-4-0 or 4-4-4-1, with zero or one card in the suit opened by the opponents.  With this shape you can do a take-out double with 12+ points.  e.g. 1  dbl.

K Q 3 2

5 2

A Q 4

K 5 4 3

With a few more points you can double with a less ideal shape. With this hand you risk ending up in a 3-4 fit in diamonds, but the extra points compensate for this. 
e.g. 1  dbl.


A K J 4 3 2

5 4

A J 4

K 5  


With 16+ points and a six card suit (or 18+ and a good 5 card suit) you start with a take-out double then bid your suit after partner’s bid.
e.g. 1        dbl.     pass    2 

       pass      2


With 19+ points and a balanced hand you start with a take-out double then bid NT (usually at the lowest level) after partner’s bid. 

Remember, if you only have 12-15 points and you do a take-out double you must be prepared to play in any suit that your partner might bid.  If you double then bid a different suit  you are showing16+ points!


Prefer to bid a five card major if you can.  With 12-15 points, a good five card major suit and four cards in the other major suit,  do a suit overcall rather than a take-out double. This way you don’t miss an eight card fit when your partner has only three cards in the suit.  (But with a poor five card major and four in the other major a, double rather than overcall).


When the opponents have bid two suits e.g. 1  pass 1  dbl,   a double shows 12+ points and four or more cards in both of the two unbid suits.


You must bid even if you have zero points, unless the opponents bid after the take-out double (see below).   Generally bid your longest suit but never deny a four card major.  You may have to bid your cheapest three card suit when you are long in the opponent’s suit but not strong enough to leave the double for penalties or to make a No Trump bid (see below).

With an unbalanced hand or no stopper in the opponent’s suit:

0 - 8    Bid a suit at the cheapest level              (9-12 losers)

9 - 12  Jump one level                                       (8 losers)

11+     Bid game with good length in own suit  (7 losers)

13+     If the best contract is unclear, cue bid the      (7 losers)
                opponent’s suit (forcing to game) to get more info from partner   

With a balanced hand and at least one stopper in the opponent’s suit:

6 - 9    Bid 1NT

10 - 12       Bid 2NT

13 – 15      Bid 3NT

These bids deny four cards in an unbid major.


When the opponents bid after the take-out double:

N     E     S     W
1  dbl.  2   ?


With 0-5 pass. With 6 or more points, respond as if you agreeing an opening bid.  e.g. 2 here would show 6-9.  The fact that there has been a bid after the double changes the meaning of the response to the double.


Converting the take-out double to a penalty double:

K Q J 10 3 2

3 2

4 3

K 3 2


If you have a good hand that is long and strong in the opponent’s suit (5+ cards and 3+ honours and 9+ points), this is the only situation when you may pass your partner’s take-out double.  e.g. 1  dbl. pass  pass.  It must be a strong trump suit!   Partner must lead a trump




With support for Partner:


With 16-18 bid at the lowest level, no need to jump. The fact that you have bid again at all shows you are strong.   With a very strong hand jump a level.

But note: If opener bids again, a simple rebid by doubler is just competitive and does not promise strength.

Without support for partner see below:





1 level

8-15 (16,17*) and 5+ card suit


2 level

11-15 (16,17*) and 5+ card suit



12-15 and 6+ card suit


Double then Bid

16+ and a 6+ card suit

18+ and a 5 card suit

6 or less


* Occasionally as much as 16 or 17 if not strong enough for ‘Double then Bid’ with only 5 cards.

The maximum points for any suit overcall is about 15 (could be 16 or 17 if only a 5 card suit, see below).  If you have more than 15 points do not make a suit overcall.   Start with a double.  This technique of showing a strong hand when overcalling is called ‘Double then Bid’.

If you have only 12-15 points and you do a take-out double you must be prepared to play in any suit that your partner might bid.  If you double then bid a different suit you are showing16+ points!

Double then bid with any 16+ hand and a 6+ card suit

A K J 8 7 6

8 3

A 7

K J 2

Opening bid was 1.

This hand is too strong to overcall with 1 or even 2.  Start with a double then rebid spades after whatever suit your partner responds.

Double then bid with an 18+ hand and a 5 card suit

A K J 8 7 

8 3

A Q 6

K Q 2

Opening bid was 1.

If your suit is only 5 cards you need a little extra strength (18+) to double then bid. With 16 or 17 you would overcall 1

Double then bid with a 19+ balanced hand 

A K 9 8  

A Q 2

Q J 4

K 5 2

Opening bid was 1.

A 1NT overcall shows exactly 16-18 points. This hand is too strong for a 1NT overcall. Start with a double and rebid NT at the lowest level.


© No Fear Bridge 2007    www.nofearbridge.co.uk