I dealt and bid one heart with the following:


Left hand opponent doubled for takeout. Partner passed with something like K♦, Q♣ and one heart.

Right hand opponent held something like ♠Jxx ♥KT98xxx ♦void ♣Jxx and bid two hearts. It made, since the takeout doubler had some 18 points. I congratulated them on a good contract.

Would it have been better for RHO to pass for penalties instead? (No one was vulnerable). I always thought that a bid on the opponents' suit opposite a takeout double was a "cue" bid indicating a void, and slam interest, with prospectively 25-30 partnership points concentrated in three suits.

We were bidding a "loose" version of Standard American. So was two hearts a proper bid in this context? Or should it have meant something else?

2 Answers 2


In "standard" american (or typical variants of 2/1) it is normal to play 2H in the sequence: (1H) - X - (P) - 2H, as a close to game forcing hand (opposite a minimum takeout double) or better. There might be variants which different partnerships play, but it is almost never a natural bid.

2H should not be to play, as it makes no sense to play in 2H there. You are contracting to make at least 8 tricks with hearts as trump, with partner showing shortness in hearts by his takeout double! If you make those same 8+ tricks, opposing a 1H doubled contract, don't you rate to make at least +200 (or more if opps are vul)? There might be cases where you let 1H doubled make, but in that case, you are probably down 2 in your own 2H anyway and those would be very rare.

Over a minor suit takeout, some people might consider playing it as natural, as opponents could have shortness there and might have the option to try and run to a longer suit, but I believe the usual is still to play 2D in: (1D) - X - (P) - 2D, as close to game forcing hand etc and not natural.

  • Since they DID make eight tricks in "my" suit, they could also have passed for penalties, set me two, and scored 300 points (doubled, non-vul), which is a better result than they actually got, right?
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 18:18
  • @Tom: Yes indeed, +300 beats +110 :-)
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 18:20
  • Suppose the other team had a "leg" of 40 (or more). Would it THEN make sense for RHO to bid 2H, which would complete their game? Actually this kind of question comes up a lot in our "game" since there are a lot of part scores.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 15:00
  • 1
    @Tom: There is no guarantee that 2H is going to make. Doubler could be void and the AQJxx is sitting over you. If 1H opener was stronger you are likely to go down. In the current case, doubler was quite strong here, he does not need to have the 18 points he had. Even with the 18 points, if your partner had the spade K and Q (instead of diamond K and club Q), 2H is down 1 (3 spade tricks and 3 heart tricks). 1H doubled could go down quite a bit, enough to cover the potential loss of the rubber which you might incur by prolonging the rubber. It does not make sense to change the meaning
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 17:56
  • of 2H bid based on the partscore situation etc. For instance would 2H be natural on the very first board of the rubber? The fact of the matter is, playing 2H as natural is a way to make your opponents rich :-) In the current case (doubler probably holding KQxx,-,AQT9x, AKxx), 1H X would probably go down 4 and they would have made an easy 800 and the still been 40 up...
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 18:05

While I agree with Aryabhata about the given hand, it is possible in more-or-less standard bidding to bid opponents' suit naturally. For instance, consider the auction 1C-X-1H-2H. In this case, partner promises either heart support or a very strong hand. Responder only promises a 4-card heart suit and not much in terms of values (responder may have 5 hearts, but is limited in terms of values by the failure to redouble). Advancer is showing a good 5- or 6-card heart suit and less than limit-raise values. Because of responder's bid, advancer knows that finesses in the trump suit are likely to be on; because of opener's bid and overcaller's values, advancer knows that finesses in the side suits are also likely to be on. The hand almost plays itself!

  • +1 for answering the general question. But I suppose it might depend on whether you are playing responsive/penalty doubles in that position or not.
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 1:25
  • Yes, I suppose if you play penalty doubles, 2H can be some sort of forcing response without clear direction, but I think even when doubles were almost always for penalty, people played 2H natural here.
    – ruds
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 14:02
  • Playing 2H as natural (with double being penalties) just seems like an inefficient use of that bid, but, I believe you are correct that many partnerships played 2H as natural. In any case, I believe it is a matter of partnership agreement and different variations are "standard" in different regions of the US.
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 17:47

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