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45 - January 2024

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RESPONDING TO A TAKEOUT DOUBLE [PART 1]

Experience from the classroom has taught me that many students struggle to evaluate their hand when responding to their partners takeout double. First, a word about takeout doubles at the one-level. Life is much easier for responder if your partnership style is to be disciplined with your doubles, but is made more difficult if you tend to double whenever you have an opening bid, irrespective of shape. Suppose your RHO opens 1. You can double on a 10-count with the perfect shape, 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-0-5. The further you get from that shape, the more high cards you need to compensate. For example, most players would double with a 4-4-2-3 12-count. 4-3-2-4 or 3-4-2-4 is less ideal, but is still just about okay. What, though, about a 3-3-2-5 or 3-3-3-4 shape? If you prefer a disciplined style, I would expect something around 15HCP before doubling with those shapes. The general principle is that responder to the double should be able to assume that their partner will usually hold four cards in any unbid major or extra values and at least three cards. I will not say that you will never double with only one or two cards in an unbid major, but doing so will be highly exceptional.

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Marc Smith

Marc Smith was in the Great Britain team that won the European Junior Teams Championship in 1985. His 25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know (co-authored with Barbara Seagram) has sold more than 300,000 copies.

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