Consider an auction that begins 1♥ - X - 2♥. What should you bid holding ♠K8 ♥943 ♦Q962 ♣K743? Allowing your opponents to play in their fit at the 2-level is losing bridge. You would like to play in a 4-4 or better fit in a minor. Guessing which minor to bid could leave you in a 4-3 fit when a 4-4 or 5-4 fit is available. Don't guess. Use a Responsive Double to consult your partner.
Responsive Doubles are used after your partner overcalls or makes a takeout double. A responsive doubles shows values and more than one place to play. High level Responsive Doubles may be more card showing and are often converted for penalty.
4th Suit Doubles and Redoubles are used after your partner overcalls and 3 suits have been bid without a jump. A 4th Suit Double shows length in the unbid suit and tolerance for your partner's suit. Bidding the 4th suit rather than making a 4th Suit Double (or Redouble) shows length in the 4th suit, but denies tolerance for the suit your partner overcalled. For example, if you hold ♠A54 ♥AJT85 ♦3 ♣JT72 and your left hand opponent opens 1♣, you overcall 1♥. The auction proceeds with your right hand opponent bidding 1♠ and your partner bidding 2♦. You have just one diamond. Should you rebid your hearts to try to improve the contract? Playing 4th Suit Doubles, your partner would have doubled to show long diamonds and heart tolerance. Since your partner bid 2♦ rather than doubling, you know your partner doesn't have heart tolerance. This knowledge helps you decide to pass, ending this misfit auction as low as possible.
The auction below is an exception for 4th Suit Doubles.
Bridge scoring, especially matchpoints, rewards major suit contracts. When advancer (East) can bid 1♠, the priority is to determine whether your partnership has a spade fit. It is important to differentiate a 4-card spade suit from a 5+ card spade suit. Our recommendation is to double with a 4-card spade suit and bid 1♠ with 5+ spades. This is more important than confirming or denying tolerance for partner's diamond suit.
Examples for East's bid on the above auction:
- Double with a 4-card spade suit: ♠KJ94 ♥52 ♦K42 ♣Q643
- Bid 1♠ with 5+ spades: ♠KJ984 ♥52 ♦K42 ♣Q63
David Loeb teaches how to use Responsive Doubles and 4th Suit Doubles to arrive at the right contract in competitive auctions. Click here to view the trailer or purchase the video lesson.