Mike’s Bidding Quiz


How strong can my hand be when partner makes a takeout double?

What are the parameters for responding?

You saw from quizzes in recent articles that responding to a takeout double is not cut and dried. Your hands range from terrible (1 or 2 high-card points) to shapely hands with opening-bid strength or more. If opener has 12 HCP and your partner has 12 also, it means that you can have as much as 16 HCP. When you have one of these better hands you may be in contention for a slam.

This quiz starts with the poor hands. For the most part, you will just bid your longest unbid suit, but even with bad hands you can sometimes contribute something.

One of the important skills you can develop is to see when a modest hand is really pretty good and when a modest hand is really pretty bad. There is often some glitter in a poor hand. But you must know what to look for if you are to find it. What is your call with the following hands in this auction?

West North East South
1 Dbl Pass ?

1. ♠ J 8 7 3   8 7   8 7 4 3   ♣ 9 8 2

See Mike's Advice

Bid 1♠. You have a terrible hand, and when this happens, you look for a four-card suit and you bid it. If you have more than one four-card suit, you should bid a four-card suit at the one level if possible.

2. ♠ K 9 7 6 3   J 7   3 2   ♣ 10 7 3 2

See Mike's Advice

Bid 1♠. The point of this hand is that you make the same bid that you did on No. 1. 1♠ shows zero to about 8 support points. This hand has only 4 HCP but it is obviously worth more than 4 points when you add in the fifth spade and the distribution. But it is still not quite worth a 2♠ bid. What is clear is that this hand is way better than hand No. 1. If the bidding continues, you should view this hand with optimism.

3. ♠ 10 6 5   J 10 4   Q 10 8 6 5   ♣ J 8

See Mike's Advice

Do not pass 1. If you pass your partner’s takeout double you promise you have a solid or nearly solid holding in their suit. Something like Q-J-10-9-5 is a minimum holding. If you pass and they make it, perhaps with an overtrick, the cost will be high.

So what should you bid? You should avoid bidding notrump with weak hands if at all possible. If you bid 1NT and your partner has a normal double with about 13 HCP, you may be doubled. If so, you will go down a lot.

This is an expert thought and I apologize for it. The winning bid is 1, your cheapest three-card major. You intend to quit bidding if possible. 1 may lead to trouble, but you are not in trouble yet. If you bid 1NT, you probably will not get a plus score. 1 gives you a chance to escape.

4. ♠ 7 6 5 3   K 3   8 7 3   ♣ Q J 9 4
See Mike's Advice

With two four-card suits and a weak hand, bid the major suit. The clubs are fair, but it is safer to bid 1♠ and keep the bidding at the one level.

5. ♠ Q 8 7 3   4 3   8 3   ♣ K 10 9 8 4
See Mike's Advice

You can bid spades or clubs. No one would fault 1♠. 2♣ is okay, too. The reason you can bid 2♣ is that if you are given a second chance, you will bid spades. This odd-sounding sequence tells partner that you have too little to make a strong bid, but you do have some values. Partner will infer that you have four spades and five clubs.

6. ♠ 9 8 4   K Q 7   Q J 7 4   ♣ 8 7 4
See Mike's Advice

This hand is good enough for 1NT. Sometimes you have to bid notrump with weaker hands. This is the kind of hand you like to have.