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 Neville Chapman


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Part 1 - Takeout Doubles in Direct Seat

There are several ways to compete after the opponents open - overcalls of various sorts, two-suited bids and takeout doubles.
Double of one of a suit usually shows support for the other 3 suits, shortage in the suit doubled and a decent hand. Here are some hands that qualify for a double of 1D: S K975 H KT93 D 4 C A854. This could be called an ideal minimum - it has only 10 HCP, but they are all working, and there is 4 card support for every suit. Note that if the AC becomes the AD and the C suit is 9854 you would not double.

S AQ42 H KT96 D J3 C A96 This hand has 14 HCP, but the JD is not working and there are only 3C. However, partner will generally bid a Major if he has one.

S AK7 H AJ94 D 53 C A975 This has 16 working points and is worth a double despite having only 3 S. Change the KS to the 2 and you can still double with all those good Aces.

Here is an opening hand which is NOT a double of 1C: S J86 H T953 D AK5 C AQ7 as it is shapeless, has wasted values in C and poor cards in Majors.

Occasionally you double with a hand that is far too strong to overcall: S AKQ975 H AQ3 D 2 C A97. Double the 1D opening, then bid S next over any bid from partner or opposition. P should always make a second bid after you double and change the suit. The hand may play best in 4H if partner has a moderate 5 card suit such as J8654 and not another point.

If the opening bid is 2S, the principles of doubling are just the same. You could almost double on the types of hands above, but you need perhaps 12 working points and an ideal hand. As the opener has less points for the opening, there is a good chance that partner has points and support for one of your suits. The reason you need extra is the fact you are forcing a 3 level bid. Double of an opening 3D is still for takeout, and you can double as over 2S.

Responses to Doubles

The first thing to learn is that you never pass a double because you have a weak hand. A pass means you have a lot of their suit and want partner to lead trumps. On all other occasions you MUST bid your best suit. Let us assume the bidding has gone 1 H doubled by partner and passed on your right. With S 9732 H 7543 D 65 C 432 you simply bid 1S. Change the hand to S 973 and D 654 you still have to bid 1S, your 'best' suit and at the lowest level.

With a better hand, you should be more enthusiastic. S AJ853 H 854 D KT65 C 3 entitles you to bid 2S, as does S KQ64 H 53 D AJ7 C J976.

Sometimes you have a very good hand, but are not sure where to play, Partner doubles 1H and you have S A965, H A865 D A43 C 74, so you want to be in some game. Start with 2H(cue bid) asking partner to show a suit. Raise 2S to game. Over 3C try 3NT, over 3D bid 3H and hope partner chooses a good final place to play.

Without a good suit, but a H stopper, bid 1NT with 6-9 or 2NT with 10-12 3NT for 13 or so. S 862 H KT6 D AJ6 C 9653 is enough for 1NT, while S 98 H KQ97 D K75 C K842 is fine for 2NT.

If RHO makes a bid, things change, as you no longer have to bid - eg 1D X 1H you should pass with a poor hand. However, you should make a free bid with a reasonable hand. Bid 1S with S A9765 H 74 D 9754 C Q6 or S KQ86 H 74 D J75 C J63.

If RHO redoubles, it usually shows 10 points and some values in the unbid suits (you are allowed to ask what the bid means). If you do not really have anything to say, you are allowed to pass. However if you have a real preference for some suit, bid it. After 1D X XX bid 1H with S 53 H QJ976 D 876 C 532 - partner will know to pass as your side is outgunned.

Further Bidding

There are two common reasons for players getting too high. The first is that a player doubles 1D with S KQ74 H AK63 D 4 C QJ97. Partner bids 1S and now RHO bids 2D, so the player tries 2S, LHO 3D and back to this player who bids 3S. When it turns out that partner has 3-3-4-3 with a couple of tens, it is no surprise the opponents double and you go several down. Once you have forced partner to bid 1S, he has anything from 0-10 HCP, 3+ card suit. Think how much better you feel when the bidding goes 1D X P 1S; 2D P P 2H, partner showing probably 5-4 in his suits and perhaps close to 8 points. (With 5-4 and 8 he would jump). Or 1D X P 1S; 2D 2S 3D 3S from partner to show a reasonable hand with a genuine S suit.

The other common problem is a player doubling 1D with S KQ62 H K974 D AJ8 C 32 and then bidding 2NT after partner responds 2C. Partner with 7 points goes (quite correctly) to 3NT and down you go again.

Bid if you genuinely have extra values and a known fit or a very good hand of your own.

Jack Kuiper

Last updated : 5th Jun 2012 21:16 ESTA
Negative Doubles

Negative Doubles

You have a moderate hand: S 85 H KQ53 D Q976 C Q52. Partner opens 1C and you are all set to bid, when there is an overcall of 1S on your right. You were about to bid 1D or 1H (see note below), but that is no longer possible.
You have 9 HCP and just 4 cards in each of your suits, so you cannot bid 2D or 2H. Either of these bids promises 10 decent HCP and a five card suit. These bids are also forcing - partner MUST bid again. 
You lack a S stopper, so bidding 1NT is out. Even if you reverse S and C holdings, bidding 1NT is not a great option, because your reasonable H suit gets lost.
The solution is to double. This is called a negative double and asks partner to bid - it is just another form of takeout double. In this sequence of 1C (1S) X, your double ideally shows the unbid suits, with emphasis on the unbid Major, and also tolerance for partner's suit along with 6+ points.
The only time partner should pass is when the other opponent bids and he has no support for the suit(s) you have shown with the double.
Negative doubles are not restricted to weakish hands. Imagine you hold S AJ9 H KQ74 D QJ64 C J53, you still double and do not bid 2D or 2H. You double to see what partner does next. You are going to finish in at least game, holding a good opening hand opposite partner's opening, It may be 4H, 3NT or even 5 or 6C.
Imagine now that the bidding has gone 1D from partner and 2C overcall. If you hold S Q974 H K853 D 86 C K53 you can double to show both majors and 8 decent points. You will not mind which suit partner chooses (perhaps a bit nervous about 2D).
With the same bidding sequence, you now hold S J8 H AQ96 D K843 C AJ9. This is a good opening hand, so you should be in some game. Get some help from partner to find out which game - double first to show your good hand. If partner shows S or repeats D, then you will bid 3NT next. You will raise 2H to game of course.
As in the case of other takeout doubles, you should never pass a negative double, Partner has shown some values and some length in unbid suits, so bid. Say the bidding has gone 1C from you, 1S overcall and X from partner, so what do you do with the following hands:
(a) S 952 H A842 D 6 C AKJ64
(b) S 98 H AK65 D A8 C AKJ53
(c) S KQ5 H 8 D Q64 C AQ432
Hand (a) looks fairly minimal if you just count this as 12 points. However, these are very good points and you also have a singleton. You should probably bid 2H, just as if partner had made a 1H bid. You are close to being able to jump to 3H - in fact if the other opponent had bid 2S, I would try 3H on this hand.
Hand (b) is very strong and you should bid this straight to 4H. the 19 very good HCP, plus shortages will help make game opposite the weakest double. If you know game should be on, then bid it. If you are among the players who open this hand 2C, you deserve all you get. The hand will only take around 5 tricks if partner has nothing and you have to lead everything from hand. Open 1C, see if partner can respond and then bid strongly, If it is passed out in 1C, you were never going to make game.
Hand (c) has some decent values in their suit, so you should rebid 1NT. Partner will have values in H and probably D. You might bid 2C, but partner with an opening hand will never be able to bid NT and you have missed your chance to get to what is probably the best place to play.
These are virtually the same as negative doubles, but made by the other side. LHO opens 1H, partner 1S, RHO 2H. You hold S 86 H 6 D QJ864 C AJT53 so you can double to ask partner to bid one of the other two suits. If he repeats S, it should be with at least 6, so you will not be totally upset.
Right back to that first hand, what were you about to bid after partner opens 1C? Some believe it is best to respond 1D (bidding up the line) so that partner has the greatest possible amount of space. This is the normal way for ACOL players. Others, such as Mike Lawrence, say you should always get your Major into the picture and bid 1H. His comment is that if LHO bids 1S or 2S after you have responded 1D, partner may not be able to show a H suit. When the bidding returns to you, you are too weak to show another suit. 
I would strongly recomment 1H with this hand, even if the D suit is AJ63 and H J952. They are not called Major suits for nothing.
1 do not bid at the 2 level unless you have 10 points
2 As opener,do not rebid a higher suit than your first without a strong hand. EG 1C - 1S; 2H is called a reverse, a higher ranking suit than you first bid. It shows a shapely hand of 16+ points.
3 Make a negative double after your RHO overcalls to show some values and 4 cards in unbid Major(s)
4 Do not bid NT unless you ahve a stopper in opponent's bid suit.
Jack Kuiper
July 2012
Last updated : 17th Mar 2018 16:37 ESTA