At matchpoints, with no one vulnerable, there were two passes before North opened one club. Partner (East) doubled. South bid one heart, and I (West) passed, since I was "off the hook.

North rebid two clubs. Partner doubled that. I thought, "she must be really short in clubs, and probably in hearts. Therefore loaded in the "pointed" suits. I bid two diamonds with Q986 of the suit, with no other high card points in a 3-3-4-3 distribution. Partner bid two spades, we went down one, and got an average score.

Partner said, the second double was for penalty and that her first double showed strength in the majors. I have trouble seeing that.

I've seen a sequence of one club, pass, one heart, pass,, two clubs, double for penalty. The doubler passed and did NOT declare club shortness on the first bid.

But here, partner declared shortness by doubling the one club bid, and then based her double of the two club bid on "strength." Is there a plausible holding that can support both calls, say AK of clubs? (She actually had AT72 of clubs).

  • Your partner is simply wrong: all over the world, in whatever bidding system, their second double would be interpreted as take-out by good players. It's usually not that clear-cut, but this is! (By the way, what did she have?)
    – TonyK
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 16:04

3 Answers 3


Your 3rd round call of 2D is correct; and you got the par result on the hand. Your analyses of the actual auction and its comparison auction are sound. Partner has no means of undoing her initial statement of short clubs, and I would read her hand as being something like 4441 or 4342 after the second double. Following Partner's two spade call you correctly passed.

There's not much more to add.


Assuming that the 1C opening was natural, partner's first double showed (let's say) 12+ with 0-2 clubs or 18+ any shape. Their second double showed 15+ with 0-2 clubs or 18+ any shape. Your 2D call was correct; I think the 2S call must show something like 15-18 with something like a good 5-card spade suit. With a better hand for spades, partner could have bid some number of spades on her own.


A rule of thumb I learned many years ago is "The first two doubles are takeout, the third is penalty." There are exceptions, but your auction is not one of them.

So partner's second double is takeout, and should show a stronger hand than the first one did. The logic is that you had an opportunity to show moderate values by bidding after the first double, and you chose not to, so you must be very weak. Yet they're forcing you to bid anyway, and at a higher level, so they must have extra compensating values.

Doubling and then bidding a suit yourself shows a very strong hand (typically 17+ HCP) and at least a 5-card suit (6+ if they double and jump); this also negates the original implication that they're short in opener's suit and have support for the other suits. But if that's what your partner had, they should have bid their suit instead of the second double.

So it doesn't really make sense for them to double twice and then bid a suit.

  • I learned only the first is a takeout and the second is a penalty but I learned from a very old book.
    – Joshua
    Commented May 14 at 18:11
  • 1
    @Joshua True, over the years double has become more and more artificial. I think the Karen Walker column in recent Bulletins has been exploring various kinds of doubles.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 14 at 19:35

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