Mike’s Bidding Quiz


1. When the opponents are both bidding, is it safe to enter the auction with a double?
2. What do I need in the unbid suits to make a takeout double?

When both opponents are bidding, it might seem that your side is outgunned, but that is not necessarily so.

If one opponent opens on 12 high-card points and the other responds with 6 HCP, your side has 22 HCP, and you can do very well if you find a fit. If you have at least four cards in the unbid suits and approximately an opening hand, get in there.

Here are three quizzes to test your judgment. No one is vulnerable.

This is the auction:

WEst North East South
1♣ Pass 1 ?

You are South. What is your call with these hands?

1. ♠ A Q 6 2  —   K Q 7 6   ♣ J 10 9 5 3

See Mike's Advice

Double. This might not look like a takeout double, but if you think about what a double shows, this hand clearly fills the requirements. You have an opening bid, you have four cards in each of the unbid suits, and you have a way to show this. A clear double.

2. ♠ A K J   7 6   A K 9 7   ♣ 7 6 5 3

See Mike's Advice

Double, but be worried. This hand comes with concerns. If North bids a bad four-card spade suit, your ♠A K J won’t serve as well as when you have a fourth trump.

♠ A K J

♠ 6 5 4 2

We have all played in a 4–3 fit like this one. Without going into the play, you can imagine how such a trump fit can fall apart. If West leads a trump and if East has four to the queen, you might end up with the opponents drawing trumps and running their suits. Not happy news. Now imagine this improvement.

♠ A K J 7

♠ 6 5 4 2

Now you have an eight-card fit and all is relatively well. That eighth trump gives you lots of time that you do not have when you have a seven-card fit.

The reason I am dwelling on this hand is that when you are offering three suits for partner to bid, the chances of finding a good fit are better than when you are offering just two. And if one of your two suits is not four cards long, it means that your partnership may be wallowing in a poor contract. At least, with hand No. 2, you have a bit extra in high-card points.

3. ♠ A K 10 8   A Q 6 4   7 4   ♣ J 10 4

See Mike's Advice

Pass. Or, if you feel adventurous, bid 1♠. I have no problem with overcalling with this hand. If partner can raise spades, that is fine. If he has enough points to bid anything else, you have a fine dummy for him.

Note that if by some chance you bid 1♠ and your partner bids 2, you are happy because you did not promise any diamond support. If you double 1 and partner bids diamonds, you will hate it because you have promised him support that you do not have.

I mentioned how good bidding 1♠ can be. In honesty, I have to admit that there is one case where it will get you a bad result. If their side has a 4–4 spade fit and if you get passed out in 1♠, you will discover that stealing their best fit is not always a good thing.