Duplicate bridge results and tip: takeout doubles versus penalty doubles


By Valerie Rhead


“Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and caldron bubble.”  As the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth pointed out, doubles can be a nasty thing, even in a friendly game of bridge.  Actually, there are many kinds of doubles in bridge.  Today we’ll just talk about penalty doubles and takeout doubles.

Back in the olden days of bridge when the views of Charles Goran held sway, a double of opponent’s bid at the one or two levels meant that you had a lot in their suit.  For example, one heart, doubled by you, meant that you had four or five hearts with strength.  But to what avail?  If your double was passed out, your opponent would likely make his contract.  After all, he’s at the one level and would only have to make seven tricks.  The double would alert him to the fact that he had a problem in hearts, and would either help him plan the hand or change to another suit where he would do better.

Conversely, a double of a heart bid today means that you are short in hearts and have support for the unbid suits.  It is called a takeout double because, in most cases, you expect your partner will take out your double and bid his suit or No‑Trump.  The only time your partner would leave the double in is if he had a very good hand and enough hearts that he thinks it better to play the penalty double.  But if he’s strong, he may be better off finding his own suit and playing offense.

Partnerships vary as to how high the takeout double should go.  Some play takeout to three spades.  My partner and I play that if the opponent opens four spades, our double is for takeout.  In modern bidding, opening four spades is weak (otherwise you might miss a slam!).  So even if you have zero points, or especially if you have zero points, you must bid in answer to partner’s double.  Your reply to partner’s double may be made with a very weak to a very strong hand.  Therefore, if you have values of eight or more points, you should make a jump bid to show your partner that you really do have something (your partner might have doubled with seventeen points so now you have a game)!

If, however, your right hand opponent bids after your partner doubles, you are off the hook.  You may pass unless you have eight or more points, in which case, you should bid — but you no longer need to jump.  If you do have a substantial holding in opponent’s suit, don’t say a word at the lower levels.  Wait until your opponent confidently bids three or four hearts, and then zap him with a penalty double.  Bridge is such a friendly game!

If you wish to promote an activity in your bridge group, send the information to [email protected] and I will include it in this column.


Games for the Huntsville Club are Tuesday evening 7:15, Trinity United Church 33 Main Street.  Please arrive at least 15 minutes early.  Call Betty 705-789-2560 [email protected] or Susan at 705-789-7156 [email protected] for information and partnerships.  For the winter, the game is now held downstairs in the warm basement.  To avoid the long stairs, enter from the door on Main Street.  There will be games as usual 7:15pm Tues Dec 22 and Dec 29.  Starting Jan 5 the game moves to the afternoon 1pm for Jan-Feb-Mar.

The following results are for Tuesday, Dec 15 with 7 tables playing a Mitchell movement.  North-South 1. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 2. Susan Marshall and Betty Bennett; 3. Barb Green and Joanne Garvey; 4. Mary Hogarth and Albert Eatock; East-West 1. Mary Whitehead and Helen Pearson; 2. Liz Barnes and Rod Dixon; 3. Jim Smith and Ralph Mitchell; 4. Betty Robinson and Vern Foell


Games at the Bracebridge Club are at the Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Taylor Road 7pm Monday evenings. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before game time. For information/partnerships, call Brian at 705-645-5340 [email protected]

The Bracebridge game is cancelled Monday Dec 28 but we will play as usual Dec 21 and continue our regular schedule Jan 4.

The following results are for Monday, Dec 14 with 8 tables playing a Mitchell movement.  North-South 1. Hazel Bowes and Gail Lederer; 2. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 3. Pamela Jardine and Ralph Mitchell; 4. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; East-West 1. Liz Barnes and David Bryce; 2. Art Insley and Don Evans; 3. Kel Andresen and Jim Smith; 4. Betty Rintoul and Heather Ingram


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