To re-open double or not to re-open double…..?

You, as North, opened the bidding in the following auction:

North East South West
1♠ 2 Pass Pass

Did you wonder why South, your partner passed? And were they sitting opposite trying to will you, to continue bidding, especially with a re-opening double!

There could be two reasons why South, your partner, passed, either they have no values or they have values and wanted to make a Penalty Double, but couldn’t since a double would be interpreted as meaning the two un-bid suits.

So take another look at the bidding and your hand, are you short, two or less, or void in the suit bid by East?  If so, and as West did not support his partner and probably does not have three or four either, nor many points, it is logical to assume that your partner South has the suit and this is why he passed.  So you re-open with a double and let your partner pass again to convert it to a Penalty double.  500 to your side if not vulnerable and 800 if vulnerable, much better than just getting them down!

On the other hand, if you have three or more cards in the opponents suit, it is more likely that your partner South has no values.  This is based on the assumption that the over-caller should have 5, you have 3 and opponents’ partner has 3 a total of 11, there are only 2 left for your partner.

So to re-cap, you as North should follow the guidelines below when deciding to reopen the auction with a double:

  • Re-open the bidding with a double if the number of cards held in the suit of the opponent is two or less. This guideline holds true even if the holding of North is not up to standard for a Takeout or Re-opening Double.
  • Pass, completing the auction, in order to defend based on the inference that holding three cards or more in the suit of the opponent, partner has no values. This is the normal guideline.
  • In the case that North has substantially more values to continue the auction independently, then North should take such action by bidding another un-bid suit or employing a cue bid per partnership agreement and allowing partner to make a preference bid. A double, in this instance, should not be employed.


Please remember to discuss reopening doubles with your partner…….or as happened to me, I passed expecting my partner to at least make a further bid and they didn’t!  We left the over-callers in their 2 Heart contract down 3, scoring a paltry 300!  A bottom for us and could have been a top.