Quick summary

You have <8 points.

Partner bid 1NT, enemy doubled.

With a 5-card suit, 7-card fit is guaranteed for your team:

With two 4-card suits, "wriggle" to find a 7-card fit

Always end up with a 7-card match at the 2 level. Sometimes 8 or 9-card.

Partner's view of a "pass" from you:

. . worth a game-winning redouble?


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade K Q J 3
heart 10
diamond A Q 9 4
club A 10 5 2
Example Deal
You: North
Dealer: South
Vuln: all

Doubling 1NT and its consequences
Go to quiz (& full page) of deal # 126023

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1NT ???

#2+<-- click the + for explanation of relevant Bidding Techniques

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«  0032  »

After 1NT, Getting out of "double" trouble

"We'd better wriggle out of this"

You're very weak.

And the enemy have doubled your partner's opening "weak 1NT".

Time to panic if vulnerable? Just going "two off" is going to cost you 500 points. (Don't even think about 3-off or 4-off).

Partner opened a weak 1NT, promising 12-14 HCP. If you have fewer than 8 points, then your team might only be guaranteed 12 points at worst, and 19 at the very best. Staying in a 1NT contract will be especially painful if the enemy have a suit with 8 cards or more - and you haven't got any trumps to stop them running away. The enemy will have you for dinner, especially if you are vulnerable. So, if you have an unbalanced hand, it's time to get out of NT.

But how do you find a long suit between you to select as your trumps? Your partner has given you no long-suit clues in the 1NT opening, and the bidding investigation must now start up at the 2 level, even though you might have terribly weak hands.

So, here's a method of guaranteeing to find a suit, in a 2-level contract, with at least a 7-card fit:

  1. If you have a 5-card suit, this is the one you should be in. So, bid "redoubled". Partner must blindly respond "2 clubs", and you'll adjust this to the right suit, as required.
  2. With two 4-card suits, bid the lowest one. Having opened 1NT, partner cannot have more than one suit with 2-cards: the method below shows you how to link one of his three longer suits (3+ cards each) together with one of your two 4-card suits.
  3. If you're happy to be in 1NT, or if you have a 4333 hand, just pass.

5-card suit

When you have a 5-card suit, you don't care any more. You see, your team is assured of 7 trump cards, because all partner's suits have at least 2 cards (she's balanced, remember).

But don't bid the suit! (That would be a signal to your partner that you have two 4-card suits, see below). Instead:

  • bid "re-double".
    • that's the signal that you have a 5-card suit;
    • partner must not pass your "re-double" (unless of course the enemy bids, as they often will);
  • partner will simply reply "2 clubs";
    • if that happens to be the right suit, you can pass;
  • if clubs is not the right suit, you can now simply bid your 5-card suit; thereafter partner will pass.

Job done. Very simple.

Two 4-card suits

In this case, there must always be at least one 7-card fit. You can't ever be certain of finding an 8-card fit, but you frequently will do.

This system works because not only do you have two 4-card suits, but your balanced partner must have at least three suits with 3-cards or more. (She's balanced, remember. In other words she has no more than one doubleton). Therefore one of your two 4-card suits will correspond to at least one suit of hers that has 3-cards.

Your actions are:

  • bid the lowest ranking of your two 4-card suits;
    • that's the signal to start hunting for the 7-card fit;
    • unless the enemy bids, partner now has duties to perform!
  • if partner passes, then this must be a 3-card suit for her, and the job is done;
  • if your 4-card response suit had been a 2-card suit in partner's hand then she'll bid a new suit, and if you've got 4 of this new one, then you've found your 7-card fit, so pass!
  • if you don't have 4 of this newly bid suit, then carry on "up the line", bidding your next highest ranking 4-card suit, which MUST be a 3+ carder with your partner, so job done.

1NT Opening bidder's view of the your actions:

  • having bid the opening weak 1NT that started the 'double' trouble, and hearing her responder's proposed suit, Opener can pass if this suit is a 3+ card suit in her hand;
  • if, instead, it's a 2-card suit, she should bid the next highest ranking suit (which must at least be a 3-card suit);
  • if partner passes, then great, you've found a 7-card fit;
  • if instead partner then bids a new higher-ranking suit, and Opener has 3 of them (which she surely will), then great, pass. You've found your 7-card fit.

You always end up with at least a 7-card fit, and you don't have to go beyond the 2 level. You'll also find 8-card fits, or even 9-card fits sometimes (and is you're dead jammy you'll even find a 10-card fit).

Stayman and Transfer bidding

Whether or not you normally use Stayman and Transfer bidding, it doesn't matter: after the enemy's "double", these systems can be ignored if that's what you and your partner choose, so that your partner will interpret your bidding differently.

(Beware: there are some people, not many, who still use Stayman and Transfers in replying to a 1NT bid that has been doubled by the enemy).

What if you (the responder) are happy to be in 1NT doubled?

Just pass!

And look forward to the extra prizes.

What if you actually do want to re-double?

1NT, doubled-redoubled, if it makes, scores "game" bonus points.

That's why opening bidders in some partnerships take a "pass" from responder as a hint to "RE-double", provided the opening bidder is at the top of their 12-14 point range.

If 1NT doubled-redoubled-vulnerable does make 7 of the 13 tricks, the score is very very very high. Altogether you get 760. Plain, good old weak 1NT would have got you only 90.

(The largest possible score you can achieve in bridge is not for a Slam, it's actually 3160 points for a very improbable 1NT contract! 1NT doubled and redoubled, then making six vulnerable over-tricks: 160 for 1NT redoubled, 500 game bonus, 100 redouble bonus and 6 lovely over-tricks worth 400 each).

What if they bid ?

Shut up!

Let them play their contract. You've got out of the disastrous "1NT doubled and vulnerable".

Other stuff about Dealing with the pre-emptive 1NT opening

They open 1NT:

  1. 0115. Defence after enemy opens 1NT
  2. 0102. Overcalling a suit after enemy opens 1NT
  3. 0172. Bidding two Majors after enemy opens 1NT ("Landy")
  4. 0120. When to penalty double an enemy opening bid of 1NT
  5. 0162. Bidding when enemy opens 1NT ("Dont")

We open 1NT:

  1. 0111. Response after the enemy overcalls your partner's 1NT ("Lebensohl")
  2. 0125. When to Double for penalties after enemy overcalls your partner's 1NT
  3. 0032. What to do when the enemy penalty doubles your 1NT opening bid




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