Bridge Goth Bridge



Cooperative Doubles

Posted by BridgeGoth on June 20, 2012 at 3:10 PM

This article was inspired by a couple of hands today when I played with GIB S. I'll provide them later, but first I'm going to talk about this very important concept.

The general idea of a Cooperative Double is to double to show cards and not necessarily any specific shape and to ask partner to do something smart.

These usually occur when your side has the majority of the points and the opponents preempt.


xx Qx AKxx KJxxx

2H 2S 4H ??

What now? Bidding 4S might land in an awful contract, 5C is not smart either. Double here cannot be pure penalty, they have a big fit, so it would be impossible for one of us to have a trump stack.

Double here says: I have a good hand, but I don't know what to do with it.

Partner will bid 4S with extra length and good spades, bid 5 of a minor with a good holding in that suit, or pass with nothing else to say. 

The important thing about a cooperative double is that you are willing to defend if partner cannot bid, so it is important to have some defense as well.

This would also be true if partner had made a takeout double.

KQx Axx x Qxxxx

3D X 5D ??

Again, double cannot be pure penalty because they have at least 10 diamonds, so a trump stack is impossible. We have the majority of the high cards, so passing out 5D is not going to get a very good score. We don't have a major to bid, and bidding 6C seems rather silly, so a cooperative double is the choice.

Partner will bid with a long strong suit, or pass without one.

If parter has something like: Axxx KQJx x Axxx, a normal enough takeout double, 6C rates to go down and 5D has virtually no play. 

This is also true is we are both bidding!

AKx QJxx xx AKJx

1C 1D 1S 4D


Again, bidding 4S would be risky, partner only promised 4 spades. Passing an 18 point hand when partner has answered is also not an option. Bidding 4H would show a reversing type hand this does not qualify.

Double will show a good hand and no clear direction and ask partner to do something smart.

Jxxxx Axxx x Qxx With this he'll bid 4H and might make 5

QJxxxx Kx xx Qxx with this he'll bid 4S and make 4

Jxxx Axx xx Qxxx with this he'll pass and defend 4Dx. This rates to go down multiple tricks and game has virtually no play.

Now here is an example of 2 cooperative doubles in action from my game this afternoon.

Hand 1

I am in 4th seat white on red

I have an awesome hand of xxxx Ax xx xxxxx

1D X 2H(weak) P

4H X

Double by GIB S there is alerted as "takeout" however at this high a level, it really is cooperative. With a defensive trick I should leave this double in, especially at this vulnerability. Consider the Law of Total Tricks.

Give GIB S a 4144 hand, his most likely shape, and we have 8 spades to their 10 hearts. There is a very good chance neither of us will make a 4 level contract. 

I passed hoping for either +200 or +500 and that game would not make our way. On defense we can take 5 tricks for +500, on offense we take 11 in spades for +450.

I won 3.67 imps for this result, but had this been matchpoints, it would have been a cold top since 500 is more than you can possibly make in game.

Hand 2

Last hand we saw GIB S make a cooperative double and I made a good decision to pass, let's see what happens when the roles are reversed!

I'm in 1st seat all vulnerable with Kxx Axx KJxx AQJ

1D P 1S 3H

Now I must make a decision. 3S could land in a 4-3 fit with a terrible break, 3NT might miss a good spade fit and go down, and there's always the chance no one can make anything.

My answer was to make a Cooperative Double, and leave the decision up to GIB S whether we should be defending or playing.

GIB S has Axxx Qxx Ax Kxxx

He has no extra length in spades or another suit to bid, and if we can take 9 tricks in NT, what do you think will happen to 3Hx?

The answer: A complete disaster for the opponents. GIB S correctly judged to leave in the double and defend 3Hx and the opponents went down 4 for -1100. There were actually some leads in my hand that would have set it another trick for -1400! Wow! 

+1100 was worth 8.80 imps for my side, a couple people made slam (i won't ask), but nearly everyone is scoring 630 or 660 for 3NT.

The lesson: If you have a big hand and don't know what to do after the opponents preempt, just double and let partner figure out what to do. Also do not be afraid to leave in your partner's double even if it is not penalty oriented if you don't have a clear cut suit to bid.

Why should you go set when they can?

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