Book a Course

View all the latest courses going on at the bridge club and book yours now...
View Courses View Playing Schedule

High Level Doubles

If partner has not bid, doubles are for takeout— whatever the level. You would double an opening bid of 1♠, 2♠ (weak), 3♠ and 4♠ with, say, ♠4, AKJ7, KJ532, ♣AQ4. The higher the level, the better the hand you’d want for the take-out double. But not by much. The real difference in strategy occurs across the table.

You’d almost never convert a double 1♠ into penalties by passing. You’d need enormous spades eg ♠KQ10982.

The double of a (weak) 2♠ opener will only very rarely be left in. You’d need very good spades eg ♠KQ1092.

The double of a 3♠ opener can be left in rather more. It’s a risky course of action but you might chance it if stuck for alternatives holding, say, ♠J1082.

The double of a 4♠ opener, still ostensibly for take-out, should be left in far more. Almost all balanced hands should pass, for surely four tricks on defence will be easier than 11 on offence.

Computer analyses suggest passing these high-level doubles and converting the take-out to penalties is a long-term winner.

Exercise: Left-hand opponent opens 4♠, partner doubles and right-hand opponent passes. What do you do with these? (Any vulnerability)

Hand i) Hand ii) Hand iii)
♠ A9 8 2
J 6 2
Q 8 2
 A 4 3 2
♠ Q J 3
7 6 2
J 4
A 9 7 6 2
♠  9 8 2
♥ K Q J 4 3
Q 4 2
6 3

With the first, pass. Stomach the odd loss when 4♠ doubled makes. Most of the time, you’ll nip it a trick, with 5♣ hopeless (doubled?).

Pass with the second, too. ♠QJx is very defensive holding, worth one trick v 4♠ (doubled) but worth nothing declaring 5♣.

With the third, bid 5. KQJxx is very offensive holding, probably worth nothing in defence but very powerful with hearts as trumps. Having hearts is even more of a reason to bid, for the other major is the one suit partner has guaranteed for his take-out double.


South Deals
None Vul
Q J 4 3
A J 10 8 2
K Q 2
A K 6 5
K Q 9 7
A 10 6 5
W   E
8 5 2
9 7 2
5 4
J 9 7 4 3
A Q J 10 9 7 6 4
10 8
6 3
West North East South
      4 1
Dble1 Pass Pass2  Pass
  1. Ostensibly for  take-out but partner will often leave it in at this high level.
  2. Four tricks on  defence will surely be easier than 11 on play. If East had bid 5♣, North would have doubled: three down.

West cashed A, East discouraging with 2 to deny a doubleton. At trick two, West accurately switched to K, needing to set up a fourth defensive trick.

Declarer won dummy’s A, overtook ♠K with ♠A, cashed ♠QJ and led up ♣8. However, West pounced with ♣A and swiftly cashed K and Q. Down one.


ARBC: 31 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HH
Call NOW: 0207 471 4626