Negative Double

After partner opens and RHO bids, a double by responder normally shows 4+ cards in the other two suits and

  • 6+ HCPs if opener may bid an unbid major on the 1 level,
  • 9+ HCPs if opener must bid an unbid major at the 2 level,
  • 11+ HCPs if opener must bid at the 3 level.


    1-(1)-Dbl = 6+ points and 4+ Hearts and 4+ Spades.
    1-(1)-Dbl = 6+ points and 4 Spades. With 5+ Spades and 6+ points, responder bids 1
    1-(1)-Dbl = 9+ points and 4 Hearts. With 5+ Hearts and 11+ points, responder bids 2
    1-(2)-Dbl = 11+ points and 4 Hearts.

To what level is a double negative rather than penalty?


  1. In SAYC, doubling of any bid through 2 is negative.
  2. Many, if not most, people now play negative doubles through 4.
  3. Larry Cohen says a double should be negative "through infinity".

BidBase has entries for all three, so in the BidBase Editor, you will need to choose which you prefer.
However, picking which you want is kind of tricky because the entries are not really variations of Negative Doubles. Instead, they build on each other.

  1. All Negative Doubles are bid the same through 2,
  2. At 3 doubles become penalty doubles for option 1 while options 2 and 3 have the same criteria for negative doubles which we will call Negative Doubles: 3C and Up.
  3. At 4, option 2 starts making penalty doubles while option 3 continues to make negative doubles.which are called Negative Doubles: 4H and Up

If you prefer some other level, you will need to make entries for them in BidBase.

When responder has a big hand:

If responder has game-forcing values, it can be hard to get that across when a double can show anything from 6 to 20+ points and the bidding has gone something like 1-(2)-D-(P)-2. You have to come in on the 3 level to show your 4-card suit, even with a minimum. What do you do with a really big hand and no support for opener?

One solution is to use a cuebid of RHO's suit (3 in this case) instead of double to show a game-forcing takeout.
The only problem is that such a cuebid is usually used to show a limit raise or better in opener's suit.
I don't know which is better and searches on the Web haven't turned up anything helpful.

Opener's bids after a Negative Double:

  1. With 18+ points,
      a) splinter in a singleton or void with 4+ support in doubler's major, else
      b) bid game in doubler's major with 4+ support if doubler could have cue bid to show strength; else
      c) jump in your suit with a good 6+ cards, else
      d) cuebid LHO's suit.
  2. Jump bid one of doubler's suit with 15-17 points and 4+ support, else
  3. Bid one of doubler's suits with at least 4-card support, else
  4. Pass for penalties with 4+ cards and 3+ points in LHO's suit and 2.5+ outside quick tricks, else
  5. Bid 1N without support for doubler with stoppers and/or length in LHO's suit, else
  6. Rebid your suit with 5+ cards and a minimum.

Opener has the option of passing the takeout double to convert it to penalties; otherwise, he should bid one of doubler's suits with 4-card support, notrump without 4 card

Opener's rebid when his RHO intervenes:

Opener is not required to bid again. If overcaller's partner bids, opener will normally bid one of his partner's suits with 4+. With <4 and no other good bid, opener can pass it back around to responder.

Opener's reopening double when responder passes rather than doubles:

Since a double is for takeout, the only way for him to double RHO's overcall is to pass and hope that opener will make a reopening double.

Opener should be particularly alert to this possibility. One clue is if opener is short in his LHO's suit. He should also have a hand suited to defense since he will be trying to defeat a low-level contract.

Vulnerability is a factor since a double of non-vulnerable opponents in a low-level contract will rarely make up for a missed vulnerable game.

If responder trap passes with a good hand and opener reopens with a suit bid rather than with a double, responder must make a forcing bid (e.g.: cue bid, jump bid) to distinguish from hands in which he passed with a bust. Opener normally must pass after a non-forcing bid in this situation.

A question remains of how many points responder should have to make a trap-pass rather than to go for game. Clearly, with less than 10 HCPs and most of them in RHO's suit, game is less likely and a penalty double, therefore, more attractive.

Notrump bidding:

When opener does not raise doubler's suits and has a balanced hand but no stopper in overcaller's suit, a Western Cuebid is asking for help in that suit for bidding notrump.


Expect responder to have a hand like 92=AQ84=J73=KJT5. If opener doesn't have a good stopper, he most likely will rebid his suit again since he hasn't been able to raise doubler so far. How high he rebids and how high doubler responds should be easy to determine by counting points.