Mike's Bidding Quiz


1. How can you tell if a hand is okay for doubling and bidding notrump?
2. How can you tell how high to bid after doubling?

It is all right to make a takeout double and then bid notrump if you have extra strength and stoppers in opener’s suit. I will give a couple of examples of how to manage these big hands so that you don’t get into a lot of trouble.

1. ♠ Q 7 4  A Q 8   K J 7 6   ♣ A K Q

WEst North East South
1 Dbl
Pass 1♠ Pass 3NT
All Pass

Did South call correctly?

See Mike's Advice

South made one good call and one horrible bid. The double was fine. South has way too much to bid 1NT, so he doubles with the intention of bidding notrump later.

When North bids 1♠, South gets to bid notrump to tell partner about the extras.

A bid of 1NT shows 18–19 high-card points — occasionally a tiny bit less, occasionally a tiny bit more. The example hand has 21 HCP, so it is a bit heavy for a 1NT bid. Better is 2NT, which shows something resembling an opening 2NT bid. Even 2NT is not entirely safe, however. Here is a possible layout.

♠ J 6 3 2
6 5 2
4 2
♣ J 7 6 2
♠ K 9 8
10 9 7 4
10 5
♣10 8 5 4
♠ A 10 5
K J 3
A Q 9 8 3
♣ 9 3
♠ Q 7 4
A Q 8
K J 7 6
♣ A K Q

South will probably take seven tricks, but that is not enough. 2NT will turn out to be too high. 3NT is without hope.

This is a fair approximation of what you can expect. South has a very nice hand, but he should take into account his own strength and the opening bid on his right. Between the two, there is not much left in the way of HCP for partner. There is very little chance that North will produce enough points to make anything.

2. ♠ Q J 8   K J 3   A K J 2   ♣ K J 5

WEst North East South
1♣ Dbl
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 1 All Pass

What do you think of South’s double? What do you think of South’s 1NT bid? What do you think of South’s pass?

See Mike's Advice

I asked about each of South’s three calls. In order, here is how they stand up. The double is fine. It is okay to overcall 1NT with a poor 18 HCP points but this hand has 19. A 1NT overcall would be an underbid.

Doubling and then bidding 1NT is fine, and this auction allows you to do that. When South bids 1NT, he describes a hand usually in the 18–19 point range. South has that range, and there is nothing about his hand to suggest bidding more than 1NT on the second round.

When North bid 2, he had learned that South had a very good hand. North’s 2 bid is a 100% weak bid. This could be the North hand:

♠ 4 3   9 8 7 6 4 2   7 3   ♣ 10 8 4

South’s hand has four top losers in a heart contract, and his side could have more losers than that if he is unlucky. South should pass 2 and
be comfortable about it. North knows that with 8 HCP points he could bid a game or at least look for a game. With a bad hand he can pass 1NT or can try to find a playable partscore in a suit if he has distribution.

Remember this rule: If you have a big balanced hand and your partner has nothing, the contract will play poorly for you. You won’t be able to get to dummy to lead toward your high cards. Instead, you will have to lead away from your high cards, which means it will be harder than normal to use your good hands. This adds up to a warning that when they open and you have a good balanced hand, it won’t be as good as normal.

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