The standard weak two opening bid is based on a six card suit; about 6 – 10 points; little defensive strength.

In general, in defence to weak two’s you should aim to be aggressive – try to make a bid.


A number of defences exist, but the general style is primarily determined by the use to which the double is put. Is this for take out or for penalty? Whatever defence you employ, there will always be the hands which cannot be ideally bid and some judgement will be required.

For intermediate players I would strongly recommend the style based on take-out doubles, primarily due to the extra flexibility at a lower level on hands without a long suit, and also the principles are similar to take-out doubles of one level opening bids. The summary of the defence is:

Double – take-out; shortage in the opponent’s weak two suit; cover in other three suits; opening values

Suit Overcalls – 12+ points and a six card (or good five card) suit.

2NT – 16-19 points semi balanced with a stop in the weak two suit.

Pass – any other hand including minimum opening values with length/strength in the opponent’s suit.

Jump to minor or 4NT – ‘Leaping Michaels’ – two suited hands – opening values.


The basic guideline requirements for the take-out double are:

a)     shortage in opponent’s weak two suit

b)     12+ points (or 11 points with a 4-4-4-1 hand).

c)     with minimum values  (12 – 14 points) - at least two four card suits, and support (3 card) for the third suit.  Ideally the hand should have four cards or a good three cards in the other major.

d)     with 15+ points only two of the suits need to be present (typically 5-4-2-2 hands).

e)     in fourth seat after ‘two-bid, pass, pass,’ you need to be even more aggressive, and should aim to double on about two points less than you would in second seat (yes – this might mean a 10 point double). Your partner may have values in the opponent’s suit and was forced to pass. He could then pass your take-out double.

If your partner makes a take-out double in fourth seat, be conscious of the fact that he may only have about 10 points. So with a 12 point hand which you may have previously passed (wrong shape), do not overbid in response.  

Examples (all over a weak 2♠ opening bid):

a)♠ 7b)♠ 83c)♠ 7d)♠ KQ943e)♠ 7

KQ73 KQ7 AK74 6 K1072

J742 QJ42 QJ743 AJ7 Q853

♣ AJ83♣ AJ83♣ QJ107♣ K843♣ AJ86

f)♠ 7



♣ AQJ54

a)     Double - this hand is about the minimum for a double - ideal shape 11 points.

b & c) Double - the extra point is needed to compensate for only three cards in one of the other suits. With one point less in these hands I would pass.

d) Pass – (I suggest you check the back of the cards first – are you playing with the same pack as your opponents). You have to hope that partner can make a take-out double which you would obviously pass. You don’t have sufficient points for a 2NT bid.

e) Obviously pass in second position, but in fourth position this is about the minimum hand worth a take-out double.

f) 4 - Leaping Michaels.

Responding To Partner’s Take-Out Double.

(More sophisticated response systems are played by some more experienced pairs – e.g. Lebensohl, but for less experienced pairs the following responses are adequate):

a)     0 – 8 points make a simple response at the lowest level

b)     9- 10 points make a jump response if you have room

c)     11 + points go for game in the other major.

(unlike over 2, over 2♠ you don’t have room, so the simple response is made on 0-9 points, and game is bid on 10+ points).

d)     Add on for shortage and distribution

e)     If you are responding in second position, having originally passed, beware that partner may only have 9 points. So, with say 11 or 12 points don’t jump to game – a single raise is adequate (e.g. 2 - pass – pass – double, pass, 3♠ on 11 or 12 points).

f)      Don’t give full value to points in the weak two suit (other than the ace).

g)     With no suitable suit to bid and a stop in the weak two suit, bid 2NT with 10-12 points, and 3NT with 13+ points)

h)     It is acceptable to pass only if you have good values in the weak two suit.


After 2, double, pass -----------  After 2, pass, pass   After 2♠, double, pass

double, pass

a)♠ A742b)♠ AJ75c)♠ AJ54d)♠ A103e)♠ A742

653 653 643 KQ7 A965

83 7 A7 107 Q875

♣ QJ103♣ QJ1086♣ QJ85♣ KQ1065♣ 9

a)     2♠ - 8 points – a lowest level response.

b)     3♠. Only 8 points, but add on two points for the singleton – 10 points.

c)     2♠. Be careful – you have correctly passed originally – minimum points and only two of the other suits covered. Partner has doubled in fourth position – he may only have 9 points. A lowest level response is adequate. If partner next bids 3♠, then raise to game – 4♠.

d)     3NT – a good spade stop and 14 points. One stop is usually sufficient. You can hold off the assumed spade lead twice, and then hopefully keep the weak two bidder off lead (he will have very few points outside spades).

e)     4. Do not pass, the spades aren’t good enough. Adding on points for the singleton should ensure game.

Suit Overcalls

a)     You should bid on the basis that partner has 8 or 9 points.

b)     Good suit – strong 5 cards of solidity, or a longer suit.

c)     Values for an opening bid – 12+ points (however 2♠ over a 2 opener doesn’t require quite as much, say 11+ points – you are still at the two level if problems arise).

d)     With stronger one suited hands (16+), either jump bid or double and then bid the suit (i.e. ignore partner’s choice)

Responding To Suit Overcalls

a)     Partner expects you to have 8 or 9 points, so only take further action on 10+ point hands (including points for shortage etc.).

b)     In general raise by one level with 10-11 points, and with 12+ points go for game (if responding to partner’s 2♠ overcall he may be slightly weaker).

c)     With 10+ points and a stop in the opponents suits, consider a no-trump contract.

d)     A change of suit would show 15+ points and would be forcing.

2NT Overcall

16-19 points with a stop in the weak two suit (one stop is sufficient)

In response you should use the same responses to a 2NT (20-22) opening bid, but adjusted for points  (i.e. go for game on 8+ points (or a good 7). With six or less points you should pass: partner may have 19, but this could still be a struggle.

Jump To 4♣, 4, or 4NT

These are known as ‘Leaping Michaels’ bids showing an opening hand and (over 2 opener):

4♣ - clubs and spades (5/5)

4 - diamonds and spades (5/5)

4NT – clubs and diamonds (5/5)

Responses To Leaping Michaels

Bid the nearest suit not shown to show slam interest in the major. Bid the other suit not shown, to invite slam interest in the minor.

Eg. 2 - 4♣ - pass - ?

The 4♣ shows 5/5 in clubs and spades.

4 - slam interest in spades

4 - slam interest in clubs

4♠ - to play

4NT – natural to play (not Blackwood)

5♣ - natural to play