Quick summary

With 16+ HCP, you should double RHO's weak 1NT opening.

This is serious stuff. It's a real double, for penalties.

Your partner will almost always pass with a sly smile. The exception is if partner has 9+ HCP and the vulnerability is favourable.

When vulnerable, before doubling, do you have a strong lead and entries ? A flat hand might be poor.

After a penalty double of a NT bid, subsequent doubles are all for penalties. Eg. 1NT - doubled - 2spade - doubled.

18+ needed after strong NT opening.

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Bridge Venue

Example Deal
+West
North
spade K Q J 3
heart 10
diamond A Q 9 4
club A 10 5 2
+East
+South
Example Deal
Dealer: South
Vuln: All


Doubling 1NT and its consequences
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Doubles. Double a 1NT

"Ha! Ha! You're in trouble"

If the opposition on your right have opened a weak 1NT, promising 12-14 HCP balanced hand, and you have 16+ points, then the chances are they are in trouble. At the most the other two players have 12 HCP between them. On average then, you have more than the enemy, and your strength is going to be played right after declarer at the table.

This is the only time you double at the one level and really mean it. It's "doubling for penalty points", because you reckon the enemy has a good chance of going down. And if you can get a suit established, they could go down a lot.

This is a very useful double, especially if the enemy is vulnerable, where the losses can soon add up to more points that you'd get even if you got to game. A score of 500 to 1100 is often yours !

Just say "double".

You can double with 15HCP too, if they are a good 15, with some inner strength, e.g. QJ109.

Partner's normal response - easy

Say nothing ! Let the enemy stew. Get them down and count the money at the end, admitting of course how lucky you were.

The exception to this is if you can see that game could be on. The double showed 16+ HCP, so if you have 9+HCP you might want to think twice. If you are vulnerable and the enemy is not, perhaps you'd do better with the 600 points from getting game. You'd need to get them down by four to better this. On the other hand, if the enemy is vulnerable and you are not, it's hard to see how you could do better than watch them suffer.

If you can see that game is on and the vulnerability is favourable, you can bid as if your partner who doubled had in fact opened a strong NT.

By the way, if the tables are reversed, and you find yourself in the position of having bid 1NT which was then immediately doubled, there is a way out of this nasty little hole.

Carry on for penalties

After a penalty double of a NT bid, any subsequent doubles are also for penalties.

Against a strong NT opening

Again, the bid is promising a better hand than the opener. Since a strong NT means 15-17, it promises 18+ HCP.

Remember that American Standard players don't usually understand the weak NT opening, and will generally fail to punish it correctly when they are strong, for instance doubling when they have 13+ points, asking partner for his strongest suit. They might stumble to a fit, and certainly fail to punish the enemy. Exploit it !

Opening lead

A consideration in deciding whether or not to double should be the possibility of enemy actually making the contract, redoubled, with you being the vulnerable party. To avoid this unpleasantness, 15/16 HCP might not be enough. You should think about your opening lead. If you have a long strong suit with outside entries into your hand, you are usually safe. Lead a high card from your long suit to force out the enemy big gun, and then use your entry back into your hand to play out your long strong suit.

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).

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