~Negative Doubles


When partner’s one-level opener is overcalled by an opponent, an immediate double (through 4D) is for takeout. Standard wisdom is that the strength requirement for a negative double is at least 7 HCP at the one- or two-level and at least 9 HCP at the three-or four-level. Marty Bergen makes the following requirements:
Level of Overcall/HCP Needed
One of a suit/6
Two of a minor/8
Two of a major/9
Three of a suit/10
Four or higher of a suit/10

These are the more commonly held distributional requirements for a negative double:

1. If there is exactly one un-bid major, the double promises at 4 cards in that suit. With a 5-card suit, responder would bid the major suit. However, if the suit is weak, responder could downgrade the suit and merely double.
~If the bidding has gone 1C-(1D)-the bid of a major shows only 4 cards and a double promises at least 4 cards in each major. If responder bids 1H/1S, his subsequent rebid of that suit shows only a five-card suit.
~If the bidding has gone 1C-(1H)-a double would show 4 spades and a bid of one spade shows 5+ spades.
~If the bidding has gone 1C-(1S)-and responder holds the requisite points and 4 hearts, the proper bid is a double. Responder may also
double with 5 hearts or bid 2H, depending on the shape and strength of the hand and vulnerability, but an immediate bid of 2H is probably
best. If responder doubles and LHO bids 2S, the partnership may very well lose an eight-card heart fit.

2. If both majors have been bid, a double shows at least four-cards in each minor suit.


After a negative double, opener should bid a new suit (particularly an unbid major suit) unless “sitting on” the opponents and expecting to set the contract. Here are the meanings of opener’s rebids:

1. Any minimum bid (below Game) is natural and indicates a minimum opening bid (up to about 16 points). This bid is not forcing.

2. Any jump bid is natural and shows about 17+ points. This bid is invitational, not forcing, if below game level.

3. Cue-bid of the enemy suit shows 19+ points and is a game-force. Opener may have either a good fit for responder’s suit and wishes to show his strength before opting for game or exploring for slam. However, opener may have a long suit needing only minimum help from partner for game in that suit or 3NT. All further bidding is natural.

4. Pass (rare) converts the negative double into penalty as described above.


1. One notrump, a new suit bid, or a preference for one of partner’s suits is natural and shows a maximum of 10 points.

2. Two notrump or a jump in partner’s first-bid suit is natural and shows 11-12 HCP (2NT) or 11-12 playing points (suit bid) and is invitational if below game.
Opener    Opponent     Responder     Opponent
1D           1H                 Dbl                 P
2C           P                   3D*

3. A cue-bid of the enemy suit after opener has shown two suits is a limit raise+ (11+ points) supporting opener’s second suit.
Opener    Opponent    Responder    Opponent
1C           1D                Dbl                 P
1H           P                  2D*
*The partnership has a known heart fit. Your cue-bid show 11+ points for partner and invites to game. Opener can return to 2H to reject the game try (showing a very weak opener). Responder with a full opener can then bid 4H.
Opener has a variety of other bids with a stronger hand, such as 3H, 4H, 4C (if playing a jump to 4C as Keycard Gerber), a splinter bid, or a bid showing controls. Any of these bids except 4H shows at least slam interest if responder has a bigger hand than shown.

From Marty Bergen: Negative doubles do not apply when the opponent has overcalled in notrump or has made a two-level cue-bid such as Michaels.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: