Mike’s Bidding Quiz


1. What are the rules for responding to takeout doubles in competition?

2. Is it better to be aggressive or conservative?

Good players dominate the bidding when their side has a fit and is able to bid aggressively. Newer players tend to bid conservatively in competitive auctions, and they lose out on many opportunities.

An auction that includes a takeout double is very likely to end up being a contest in which both sides have a fit and the contract is won after a bidding war. If one side is not willing to go to war, it means the other side will win by default. You want to avoid being the default loser.

In the hands in this and ensuing quizzes, your partner makes a takeout double and your RHO bids something. What do you do when it is your turn? Assume no one is vulnerable.

West North East South
1 Dbl 1 ?

When your partner makes a takeout double, the key to your side’s winning the auction is that you bid your hand properly. In this case, your partner doubled 1, and the next player bid 1. This bid normally shows six or more points, so it is not too threatening. You should take the view that you are going to bid something, and only if you have a really bad hand should you back off of that goal.

Some example hands. What is your call over North’s 1 bid with each of the following hands?

1. ♠ J 8 7 3   K 8 3   8 7 3   ♣ K 10 3

See Mike's Advice

Bid 1♠. It may feel like you are bidding a new suit, but in reality you are supporting a suit. Your partner’s double said he had spade support. You obviously are rooting for four spades, but if he has three only, you won’t get higher than 1♠ unless your partner has serious extra points. You may feel that bidding 1♠ is getting involved when you should not be, but that is not true. Think about the cost of passing 1. Their side will continue bidding and they may get to a nice partscore. If they make it and you could have made some spades, you will suffer a loss.

Yes, you can pass now and then bid spades later, perhaps at the two level, but isn’t it better to bid 1♠ now? If you do, you do not have to guess whether to bid 2♠ later.

2. ♠ Q 7 6 5 2   2   8 7 2   ♣ A J 9 8

See Mike's Advice

Bid 2♠. Do not forget to make a stronger bid when you have extra values. This hand has 7 high-card points, but also a fifth spade and a singleton heart. You also have high cards in suits your partner has shown with his double. I estimate this hand is closer to 10 or 11 points in support of spades.

In comparison, this hand is worth much less:

♠ 7 6 5 2   Q 6 3   J 7 3   ♣ A 7 3

You have 7 HCP, but some of your values are in the opponents’ suits and may be wasted. Further, you have only four spades and you have no distribution at all. I would not bid even 1♠ with this hand.

3. ♠ Q 7 3   Q 8 2   Q 9 8 3   ♣ Q 6 3

See Mike's Advice

If your partner opened with 1♣ or 1, you would bid 1NT. When your partner doubles for takeout, he is not usually interested in notrump. He is interested in finding a fit. You know there is no obvious fit. With soft values, you should pass.

4. ♠ K 7   9 2   10 7 6 2   ♣ Q 9 8 7 3

See Mike's Advice

Bid 2♣. Compare this hand with the previous hand. This hand has a five-card suit to bid. The previous hand did not have even a four-card suit to bid. This hand has some distribution. The previous hand did not. Bidding 2♣ is clear. Do not allow your side to be outbid when you expect you have a fit.

5. ♠ Q 7   Q J 8 7   A 7 3 2   ♣ J 9 8

See Mike's Advice

Double. I would like to write pages about this, but I must content myself with referring you to my book on takeout doubles. Make the following one of your bidding principles: When your partner makes a takeout double and RHO bids a suit at the one level and you have nine or more points with four cards in their suit, a double is for penalty. It is not likely that they will play in hearts, but your double serves to alert partner to the fact that you have values. He may be able to do something. You will have to read the book on why a double shows four cards and not five or six.