Takeout doubles are a commonly used convention for defensive bidding. In the broad sense, any double which is not penalty is a takeout double (though the responder may pass it to convert it to a penalty double). In the narrow sense, a takeout double is a double overcall at a low level of bidding.

When the other side has opened the bidding at a low level, the double is not useful as a natural bid and therefore is described as takeout, because the doubler's partner is expected to take it out. Thus, a takeout double is an artificial call, not a natural one. The typical interpretation of a takeout double is "Partner, please pick an unbid suit." It is always important to consider the possible responses to a takeout double and decide if it really is the best action, particularly because it can often put the stronger hand on the table. The doubler must be ready to play in just about any suit the responder may pick (with the exception of the strong double).

Although a takeout double is technically a convention, it is developed in early history and is generally accepted as a part of natural bidding. Therefore, an alert must not be put on a takeout double.

There are a number of specific situations in which takeout doubles are used.

Convention Edit

A double is takeout, in the narrow sense, if it is the initial overcall at or below 4.

In general, a takeout double shows

  • a strong, typically openable hand
  • length (3+ cards) in all unbid suits (or at least the majors)
  • shortage (2- cards) in the bid suit if only one suit has been bid
  • no appropriate overcall

However, favourable distribution is less important with stronger hands. With 18+ points, the hand is too strong for an overcall and should therefore double regardless of shape.

Direct double of a suit opening Edit

When RHO opens a suit at or below 4, a double is for takeout and shows one of the following:

  • 12 or more total points with at least 3 cards in the unbid suits and at most 2 cards in the bid suits.
    • Count dummy points, not length points, as the hand will normally become dummy. That means with the perfect shape (4-4-4-1), 10 HCPs are enough for the double since the singleton counts as 3 points.
  • 18 or more points, regardless of shape. This is called a strong takeout double.

When takeout double should not be used Edit

  • With length in the opponent's suit, especially with honours in it, prefer passing;
  • With 4333 shape, particularly with honours in the opened suit, pass with as many as 15 points;
  • With a good 5-card suit and 13-17 points, prefer to overcall.

Responses after a 1-level opening is doubled Edit

With a minimum hand Edit

  • With at most 8 HCPs, bid the longest suit (prefer majors) at the cheapest level;
  • With a long (6+) good suit, preempt the opponents by double jump bidding the suit.

With a medium hand Edit

  • With about 9 to 11 HCPs (or slightly less with distribution), jump bid the longest suit;
  • With a balanced hand of about 8 to 10 HCPs and a stopper in the enemy's suit, bid 1NT;
  • With a balanced hand of about 10 to 12 HCPs and a stopper in the enemy's suit, bid 2NT;

With a maximum hand Edit

Passing Edit

  • If the opened suit is good (at least 5 cards with an honour, or 6 cards) and there is no appropriate bid, pass the double to convert it to penalty. This is generally not desirable and the advancer should generally bid if an appropriate one is available.

After an intervening bid or redouble Edit

Rebids by doubler Edit

After a minimum suit response Edit

With a minimum hand Edit
  • With less 15 points, doubler always passes unless there is a great fit;
With a medium hand Edit
  • A single raise typically shows 16-18 points at the 2-level;
  • A double raise at the 3-level typically shows 19-21 points;
  • A new suit bid shows at least 18 points with a 5-card suit;
  • A 1NT rebid shows strength above a direct 1NT overcall;
With a maximum hand Edit
  • A 2NT rebid shows strength above a 1NT rebid, if available;
  • A cue-bid shows a very strong, near game-forcing hand (about 22 points or more).
  • A jump bid in new suit shows a very strong, near game-forcing single-suited hand.

After an invitational (jumping) response Edit

  • Bid naturally to accept the invitation, or
  • Pass to reject

After a 1NT response Edit

  • Bid 2NT to invite game.
  • 3NT is to play.
  • Other bids are the same as a suit response.

After a cue-bid response Edit

  • Any natural bid, with preference to unbid 4-card majors
  • Jumps unnecessary since the auction is game-forcing

Other takeout doubles Edit

  • When the opponents have shown two suits, the takeout double shows the remaining two, typically 5-4 or longer. The responses are the same.
  • When the partner has opened and RHO immediately overcalls, a double is a negative double. It shows at least 6 points and at least 4 cards in the unbid majors (both minors if both majors have been bid) but does not deny the remaining suits.
  • When used in the balancing seat, the takeout double can be used a little less than the standard opening strength, or as a form of catch-all forcing bid with some strength but no appropriate overcall available.
    • For example, after LHO opening 1 and two passes, holding AK32 532 KJ3 Q32, a balancing double is needed to prevent missing a game because the partner may hold as much as 14 HCPs but lacks an appropriate overcall.
  • If the partner makes a takeout double and the RHO raises the suit, a double may also be takeout, showing some values but no preference. This is called the responsive double.
  • Takeout doubles may be repeated to show stronger values.
  • If a takeout double is made after opening, an overcall and two passes, the double is called a reopening double which shows values above a minimum opening bid.

penalty double - takeout double - negative double - responsive double
support double - maximal double - Lightner double - lead-directing double
optional double