A takeout double is a conventional double used in a competitive auction (most often, immediately after an opponent's opening bid) to show a desire to compete, in contrast to a penalty double, which indicates a desire to defend against the opponent's contract. Usually, the call indicates support for the unbid suits and a hand of opening strength or more. The takeout double asks the doubler's partner to bid a suit, and implies shortness in the suit(s) doubled.
Normally, a double is considered takeout whenever one of the following conditions are met:
only in the first round of bidding, and any subsequent ones are regarded as penalty (but see balancing double below).
In the strict sense, takeout double is a convention, as it does not show desire to penalize the opponents (which is the usual meaning of a double) —quite the opposite. However, it is possibly the oldest bridge convention and treated as an integral part of the game, thus considered natural.
The most common treatment is that the fewer high card points the hand possesses, the distribution must be more strict (i.e. opponent's suit(s) shorter and unbid suits longer). Most players play that cards of 16(17) high card points should double regardless of distribution (unless the hand is suitable for 1NT overcall). Also, more high-card strength is required when opponents have bid on higher levels (e.g. preempted). Most players play that a double up to the level of 4 is takeout, while doubles on higher levels are for penalties or "cooperative" (i.e. the partner is supposed to pass unless his distribution and/or strength indicates that playing a contract of their own on a higher level is a better prospect).
|1)||This card is a minimal takeout double when the opponent opens 1. With other opening bids, it should be passed though. Also, if the opening bid was 3, the hand would be not strong enough to double.|
|2)||If opponents have bid 1 – 1, the takeout double shows unbid suits (spades and clubs)|
|3)||With 16 balanced points, this card is suitable for 1NT overcall over any opening bid rather than for a double.|
|4)||With 17 points and excellent spade suit, this card should double RHO's opening bid rather than overcall spades. Whatever partner bids, a subsequent bid of spades will indicate a stronger hand than a simple overcall.|
|5)||Over an opening bid of 1 this hand can double or overcall 2 depending on style and agreements. However, over an opening bid of 1, it should pass, expecting to double later opponents' heart or notrump contract for penalties.|
If the RHO bids, the doubler's partner is not forced to make a bid anymore; if one is made, it is a free bid, indicating a certain strength and/or length in the suit bid.
The strength requirements above are lowered when the partner is known to be stronger (e.g. an opponents' preempt is doubled), and raised when partner can be weak (as in protective position).
|1) 1 – (1) – pass – pass; Dbl||This type of is referred to as "reopening double", and shows shortness in spades and support for other suits|
|2) 1 – 1 ; Dbl||Shows 4+ cards in all unbid major(s), or 4+ cards in each minor if both bid suits are majors. See negative double.|
|3) 1 – Dbl – pass – 1; Dbl||Again, the opener has shortness in spades and other three suits.|
|4) 1 – 1() – pass – (2); Dbl||This shows shortness in hearts, but the opener must have extra strength, as the responder is forced to bid on level 2 or 3.|
|5) (1) – 1 – (2) – pass; (pass) – Dbl||The overcaller shows shortness in diamonds, and at least 3 cards in hearts and clubs, with some extra values for the overcall.|
|6) (1) – Dbl – (2) – pass; (pass) – Dbl||The original doubler shows extra values and/or extreme shortness in hearts.|
A protective double can be made with as little as 8 high card points if both the RHO and the partner have passed the opening bid. Such a situation indicates that partner has strength, but was unable to act, perhaps because he had a hand like 1) or 5) in the table above:
A balancing double occurs in later rounds of bidding, in situations where opponents have found a fit, but stopped on a low level, placing some points with the partner. It is normally done with a relatively weak hand and the distribution need not be perfect.
In the past, reopening doubles used to show extra values as well. However, with the inclusion of negative double, responder cannot double for penalties anymore and must pass with length and strength in the overcalled suit. In order to protect against such situations, opener is obliged to double even with thin values, whenever his distribution is suitable. Some pairs even go so far that they require some form of reopening in all cases.