Negative doubles have become popular because they solve this difficult -- and common -- bidding problem:
This solution is the negative double. To use this convention, you and partner agree that if you open the bidding and the opponent makes a direct suit overcall, a double by responder is NOT for penalty. Instead, it shows:
At least a fair response (7+ pts.) AND
In the problem above, you would double to show the values for a response and a 4-card heart suit. This tells partner that you would have responded 1H if the opponent had passed. If opener also has 4 hearts, he'll "raise" your response by bidding hearts himself. If not, he can choose another descriptive bid.
Here are some other examples of how you can use negative doubles:
Playing negative doubles also offers you the advantage of assigning a more specific meaning to a freebid of a new suit. After an opponent's overcall, if responder freely bids a new suit (instead of making a negative double), he promises a 5-card suit. A new-suit freebid at the 1-level shows 7+ pts.; at the 2-level or higher, it shows 10+ pts.
What do you do when you have a "real" penalty double of RHO's overcall? As responder, you can't make an immediate double for penalty, so you must pass and hope partner will bid again:
You and your partner can decide at which levels of bidding you'll use negative doubles. One popular agreement is that negative doubles are "on" if the opponent makes a suit overcall through the level of 3S. If you use this agreement, negative doubles are "off" (responder's double is for penalty) if the overcall is 4C or higher.
No matter how you choose to play negative doubles, they apply only if the opponent overcalls a suit. Responder's double of a 1NT overcall is always for penalty.
The higher the level of the overcall, the more strength responder needs to make a negative double. If partner opens 1C and the opponent makes a jump overcall of 2S, you'll want to have a little extra playing strength (not necessarily extra points) to make a negative double, which will force partner to the 3-level.
After responder's negative double, opener must make a rebid that describes both his strength and his support for the suit partner has shown with the double. In most cases, you'll bid your hand just as if partner had made a 1-bid in that suit:
With a MINIMUM opening (13-15 pts.), make your natural suit or notrump rebid at a low level. If you have 4-card support for the suit partner has shown with the double, you should always show it.
With an INVITATIONAL hand (15-17 pts.), jump one level to show extra strength (1C by you - 1H overcall - DBL by partner - P - 2S by you).
Remember that responder cannot make an immediate penalty double of an opponent's overcall. If you open the bidding, your LHO makes an overcall and your partner passes, he may have a hand with strength in the opponent's suit. If you're short in the overcaller's suit, you should try to "protect" partner by reopening the bidding for him.
Be careful about reopening, though, if you have length in the opponent's suit:
Copyright © Karen Walker