Main     Lesson 5A by Richard Pavlicek    

Negative Doubles

The negative double is probably the most indispensable of all the bidding conventions in use today. It is absolutely essential in order to bid effectively after enemy interference.

This lesson explains the requirements for the negative double, and how the partnership bidding should proceed afterwards.

Requirements

It is important to know exactly when the negative double applies. The bidding must take this form:

West
Opener
1 of suit
East
Opponent
Suit bid
North
Responder
Double

The opening bid may be in any position (i.e., responder may be a passed hand). Note that the opening must be one of a suit (not notrump). The enemy bid must be in a natural suit through the level of 4 D.

This maximum level is arbitrary and my own recommendation. It is easy to remember as it is below game. Any double of a game bid is for penalty.

Couldn’t you tell my double was negative?
I’ll say it was. Just look at our result.

A negative double should not be made with normal trump support for partner’s major-suit opening.

The minimum strength required for a negative double is about 7 points provided the bidding is at a low level. If opener must go to the three level or higher to bid an unbid suit, then doubler should have at least 9 points.

There is no upper limit for the strength of a negative double.

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The Unbid Major

In the majority of cases the negative double is used when there is exactly one unbid major suit, the primary purpose being to locate a trump fit in that suit. This brings up an important rule:

If there is one unbid major suit, the double shows four or more cards in that suit.

1.
TableS 8 4
H K 10 8 2
D 5 4 3
C A 8 5 2

West
1 C
North
1 S
East
Dbl

You show at least four hearts.

2.
TableS J 9 6 2
H 2
D A 8 5
C K J 8 5 3

West
1 H
North
2 D
East
Dbl

You show at least four spades.

A common question arises as to when a negative double may contain five cards in the unbid major. The general rule is:

With five (or more) cards in the unbid major suit make a negative double only if your hand is too weak to bid that suit.

3.
TableS 9 7 2
H A K 8 4 3
D 10 9 2
C 4 3

West
1 D
North
1 S
East
Dbl

You are too weak to bid 2 H (forcing) so the alternatives are to pass or double. Who wants to pass!

4.
TableS Q 9 7 5 2
H 8 7
D 9 7 3
C A J 2

West
1 C
North
1 H
East
1 S

A response at the one level requires only 6 points, so bid your suit with a five-carder. It logically follows that a double of 1 H would show exactly four spades.

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Special Cases

The “one unbid major” situation is most common, but it should be apparent there are two other cases. Negative doubles also apply if both majors are unbid or if there is no unbid major.

If both major suits are unbid, the double shows four or more cards in at least one major suit.

5.
TableS K J 10 4
H A 2
D 10 7 5 4
C 5 4 3

West
1 D
North
2 C
East
Dbl

You promise at least one major suit. If opener bids hearts, you will give a preference back to his first suit (diamonds) to imply that you have the other major.

After a 1 C opening and a 1 D overcall, the double shows both major suits (at least 4-4).

6.
TableS A 8 7 5
H Q 9 8 2
D 4 3
C A K 4

West
1 C
North
1 D
East
Dbl

Here you show both majors because it would be simple to bid 1 H or 1 S if you held only one major suit. Note that there is no strength limit for the negative double.

If both major suits are bid, the double shows at least 4-4 in the minor suits.

7.
TableS 9 7 2
H 2
D A J 10 4 2
C Q 8 6 4

West
1 H
North
1 S
East
Dbl

You show clubs and diamonds because both majors have been bid.

8.
TableS 8 2
H 9 7 4
D Q J 10 4
C A K 8 4

West
1 S
North
2 H
East
Dbl

Again you show clubs and diamonds, but here you need at least 9 points since opener must go to the three level to bid a minor.

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Rebids by Opener

After the double, the opening bidder should try to select the contract based on the information available. Opener must indicate his strength:

With 13 to 15 points make a nonjump rebid.

9.
S K J 4 2
H 4 3
D K 2
C A Q 6 4 2
TableS 10 3
H Q J 10 8
D A 10 8 5 3
C J 3

West
1 C
1 NT
North
1 S
Pass
East
Dbl
Pass
South
Pass

Opener knows that responder has hearts, so 1 NT rates to be better than 2 C.

10.
S A Q 4
H A K 5 4 2
D 4 3
C 9 7 2
TableS K J 9 5
H 3
D K 10 7 6 2
C 8 6 3

West
1 H
2 S
North
2 C
Pass
East
Dbl
Pass
South
Pass

Opener has no ideal bid. The sensible action is to bid the suit in which responder is known to have at least four cards.

With 16 to 18 points make a jump rebid. This is invitational if below game, but nonforcing.

11.
S A 8 4
H K Q 9 7
D A J 9 6 4
C 2
TableS 9 7 2
H A J 10 3
D K 2
C J 9 7 3

West
1 D
3 H
North
1 S
Pass
East
Dbl
4 H
South
Pass

Opener jumps to show his extra strength (do not forget to count distribution).

12.
S A 8 4
H K 7 2
D A K J 9 8 2
C 4
TableS 9 7 6 2
H Q J 8 4
D 3
C A 8 5 2

West
1 D
3 D
North
2 C
Pass
East
Dbl
Pass
South
Pass

Opener jumps to show a strong 6+ card diamond suit. Responder declines the invitation with a bare minimum double.

With 19+ points bid game if you are confident of the best final contract. If you need to explore, cue-bid the enemy suit.

13.
S A K J 4 2
H A 9 2
D A K 4
C 4 3
TableS 3
H K J 8 7 4
D Q J 10 3
C 9 7 2

West
1 S
3 C
4 H
North
2 C
Pass
Pass
East
Dbl
3 H
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

Opener is not sure of the best contract so he cue-bids 3 C. Responder’s 3 H shows five cards (he already promised four), then opener knows where to go.

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Rebids by Doubler

Once you have made a negative double, you are not required to bid again (except if opener cue-bids the enemy suit). Assuming that opener has shown a minimum hand (13-15 points), the general strategy is:

With 7 to 10 points pass if you are satisfied with the contract. You may bid your own 5+ card suit (nonforcing) or give a preference to opener’s first suit.

14.
S A 7
H J 2
D J 8 4
C A K 9 7 6 3
TableS K 10 9 8
H A 8 6 5 4 3
D 7 2
C 2

West
1 C
2 C
North
1 D
Pass
East
Dbl
2 H
South
Pass

The double promised both majors, now 2 H shows a weak-range hand with a long heart suit. Opener should pass 2 H.

15.
S K 9 7 5
H A 9 2
D Q 8 7 3
C A 2
TableS A 4
H K 7 5 4
D J 10 6 2
C 9 7 5

West
1 D
2 S
North
2 C
Pass
East
Dbl
3 D
South
Pass

Responder was hoping opener would bid hearts, but now he must take opener back to his first suit. Opener should pass 3 D.

With 11 or 12 points raise to the next level (usually to three) with a trump fit or bid 2 NT. These bids are invitational to game.

16.
S 5 2
H A K J 7 6 4
D J 8 3
C K 4
TableS A J 9 4
H Q 2
D A 5 2
C 9 8 7 6

West
1 H
2 H
North
2 D
Pass
East
Dbl
3 H
South
Pass

When opener rebids 2 H he should have six, so responder raises with a doubleton. Opener should reject the invitation.

17.
S Q 4
H A Q 7 6
D 10 3
C A Q 8 5 2
TableS K 10 8 2
H 9 3
D A J 8
C K 9 7 6

West
1 C
2 H
3 NT
North
2 D
Pass
Pass
East
Dbl
2 NT
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

Responder first checks for spades with the negative double, then he invites game in notrump. With 14 HCP opener takes the push to game.

With 13+ points bid game if you are confident of the best final contract. If you need to explore, cue-bid the enemy suit.

The cue-bid (by opener or responder) after a negative double does not require any specific holding in the enemy suit. It basically means, “We have enough points for game, so keep bidding.”

18.
S K 4 3
H 10
D A Q J 8 7 6
C Q 4 2
TableS 9 7 2
H A K 8 4
D K 4
C K 9 7 6

West
1 D
2 D
2 NT
North
1 S
Pass
Pass
East
Dbl
2 S
3 NT
South
Pass
Pass

Over 2 D responder is not sure of the best contract so he cue-bids 2 S to force opener to bid again. Opener’s most logical next bid is in notrump to show a spade stopper, then responder continues to game.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek