RESPONSIVE
DOUBLE

After an opening, a Takeout Double by partner and a Two or Three Level Raise by the partner of the opener, the partner of the Takeout Doubler can also double, thereby providing and communicating descriptive information about his hand. This is known as a Responsive Double.

The importance of distinguishing this double from other doubles is the fact that the partner of the opener has supported the suit of his partner via a raise. In the case that the partner of the opener bids another suit after the Takeout Double, then other interpretations of the double in the Fourth Seat may take on new meanings.

The concept should generally be understood according to the following guidelines:

1. If the opening has been in a Major suit, then the Responsive Double shows, after the Takeout Double, scattered values and better distribution in the Minor suits. Otherwise it would be more prudent to support the Takeout Double of the partner when holding support in the unbid Major suit.

2. If the opening has been in a Minor suit, then the Responsive Double shows, after the Takeout Double, scattered values and better distribution in both Major suits and wishes the partner, who has executed the Takeout Double, to choose the better Major suit.

This may sound confusing, but the following illustration should clarify this concept:

West

North

East

South

1

Double

2

Double

     
Q873
Q1097
7
Q852

The double of North is a Take-Out Double, but the double of South is a Responsive Double. South is too weak to cuebid the Diamonds, and South does not want to simply guess which suit North, his partner, would prefer. See Responses To Take-Out Double. Therefore, South doubles and informs his partner that he has both Major suits. The Responsive Double. If South had a 5-card or more suit, then South would just bid it.

If South were to cuebid the Diamonds, that would force his partner to bid on the Three Level, and their contract might possibly be only on the Two Level. That is why Mr. Fielding-Reid came up with this Responsive Double. The Responsive Double can not equal a Penalty Double in this situation, and should not be construed as a Penalty Double.

West

North

East

South

1

Double

2

Double

     
873
72
QJ107
QJ105

South can not support the Spades, the suit of North, and must show the the two Minor suits. South executes the Responsive Double to show and communicate to North that he holds both Minor suits. North must now bid a Minor suit if West passes or possibly pass if West raises to three Hearts.

How many High Card Points

The high card point range will differ according to the individual partnership agreement. After the opponents settle on one suit, the shape of the hand also begins to play an important role. Remember also, that South may pass after his Right Hand Opponent makes a bid. The high card point range also changes with the level of the auction. So we have:

Partnership Agreement
Shape of the Hand
Level of the Auction
High Card Points

These four elements must enter into the decision of South. All four elements must be considered. It is conclusive that most high card points are in the other three hands, and that South will be weak. Therefore, a Responsive Double of 2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds would require a minimum of 6 points (distributional points added), and a Responsive Double of 3 Clubs or 3 Diamonds would require a minimum of 9 points (distributional points added).

It is possible that the distribution of the holding of South be such, that South, instead of executing the Responsive Double, cuebid the suit of the opponents to indicate a much stronger holding. With such a holding, the high card points do not play any important part of the auction as much as the power of the distribution and shape of the holding.

West

North

East

South

1

Double

2

3

     
QJ9873
QJ10987
7

In order to show this very distributional holding, South must cuebid the Minor suit of the opponents. By partnership agreement, North must consider game in a Major suit. The reason behind the cuebid is the logic that the lead must come up to the declarer through the stronger hand, which opened. Whether or not this can also be a partnership understanding, if the opening is a Major suit, depends on the partnership agreement.

To illustrate this use of the Responsive Double, the following hand is from the 1997 World Team Championship between France and the United States.

Dealer:

  North

Vulnerable:

  East-West

United States:

  North-South

North East South West
32
K743
Q5
KQJ103
J4
A985
KJ1043
A5
AK965
QJ62
6
976
Q1087
10
A9872
842
Pass 1 1 3 Preemptive
Double    
Responsive Double
showing both
unbid Suits
Hearts and Clubs
     

The Responsive Double of North met all the requirements. North had length in the two unbid suits, and also the strength required to make the Responsive Double.

If a Responsive Double is called after a raise of the Major suits, more information has already been exchanged than had a Minor suit been opened and raised. The Responsive Doubler knows the suit of his partner, the Takeout Doubler. The Responsive Doubler has therefore more descriptive information about the hand of his partner. The minimum requirement of high card points is approximately the same, but the shape of the hand becomes more important. How many cards in the Major suit of the opponents does the possible Responsive Doubler have? Could his partner, the Takeout Doubler, possibly be void?

In general, most bridge partnerships agree that there is a Responsive Double through to 4 Diamonds. You and your partner should come to a general understanding and include this in your individual partnership agreement. Also, there should be agreement as to whether a Responsive Double is valid over Weak Two Bids and stronger Preempts.

In the original concept of the Responsive Double, a double by the advancer is responsive only when the opponents have opened on the one-level and raised that particular suit. However, other bridge partnerships also use the Responsive Double when the partner has made a simple overcall in a suit. Modern Bridge Conventions, a bridge book authored by Mr. Bill Root with Mr. Richard Pavlicek, published in 1995, offers a list of bidding sequences, in which a double by the partner is not a Responsive Double.

Opener 2. Seat 3. Seat 4. Seat
1 Double 1 Double 3. Seat has bid a new suit; the double becomes optional

Opener 2. Seat 3. Seat 4. Seat
1 2 3 Double 2. Seat has made a Jump Overcall

Opener 2. Seat 3. Seat 4. Seat
2 Double 3 Double Opener has opened with a Preempt

Opener 2. Seat 3. Seat 4. Seat
1 1 NT 2 Double 2. Seat has overcalled in No Trump

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.