This double is a type of Competitive Double. The official designation is Maximal Double as described in The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge authored by the American Bridge Contract League, Edition 6, page 289. The identical concept is also official designated as Maximal Overcall Doubles by other authoritative and sponsoring bodies since this type of double only occurs in competition and generally occurs on the three level. The designation Maximal Double Overcall is also employed to describe this concept.
This type of double is used in a competitive auction when the auction has become too crowded for any alternative approach to exchange information. The origin of this type of double is unknown.
The bridge player should also be made aware of the fact that there are several designations used for this type of action in a competitive auction, whereby all four players are competing. The original designation, more rumored than substantiated, is Maximal Overcall Double. This designation apparently also was inverted and the action become known by the designation of Maximal Double Overcall. The usage of the word maximal was also changed to maximum and two other designations became added to the list, that of the Maximum Overcall Double and the Maximum Double Overcall.
Note: The European Bridge League accepts without hesitation the designation of Maximum Overcall Double and allows other designations for the identical action also. Other European countries have adopted this designation and have also created the abbreviation MOD as a reference to this action.
Note: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of maximum is: 1: the greatest quantity or value attainable or attained; b: the period of highest, greatest, or utmost development; 2: an upper limit allowed (as by a legal authority) or allowable (as by the circumstances of a particular case).
Note: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of maximal is: 1: being an upper limit: highest; 2: most comprehensive.
To a larger degree this type of action has also been referred to as an Action Double, a term which is also used often among many bridge players. It simply means that the bridge player has no alternative defined method to act other than employing the use of the double card under certain circumstances of competition. This designation may be a carry-over from the days of Whist, Bid Whist, and Auction Whist.
The end result is that the bridge community has adopted the designation of Maximal Double, not Maximum Double or any other term as the more official designation.
Note: The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, published by the American Contract Bridge League employs the designation of Maximal Double. Other publications, written and digital, also employ the above designations of Action Double, Maximum Overcall Double, Maximum Double Overcall, Maximum Double, all of which describe an identical action.
The following illustrations should assist in clarifying this concept:
South West North East 1 2 2 3 ?
South finds himself in a predicament and would prefer an approach to this bidding sequence to show:
1. the desire to sign-off in 3 Spades. 2. the desire to invite game in Spades.
This approach has been solved by the partnership agreeing to use the Maximal Double:
1. By bidding 3, South shows the desire to sign-off. 2. With the employment of the Maximal Double, South employs the conventional bid to invite game.
Another example is:
South West North East Meaning 1 Double Pass 2 The double by West is a Takeout Double Double Pass 2 The double by South is the Maximal Double.
A95 KQJ87 A Q976
After the Takeout Double of West, a pass by partner, and a 2 response by East, South can show additional strength / values with the Maximal Double, but without additional length in Hearts. Per partnership agreement, North may then support opener's suit with an absolute minimum of 2 cards and 4/5 points. The shown holding of South would be a typical holding.
In mainly competitive auctions, a distinction is generally made between certain auctions. In the above two illustrations the reader will notice that the competitive auctions show auctions, whereby the competition is bidding in a suit, which is one rank below the suit of North-South, or in other words, the competition of the opponents is not in the maximum suit, meaning that the suit of the opponents is one suit below the competitive suit of North-South.
If the suit of the opponents is not just one suit below the maximum suit, then other approaches can apply, and the Maximum Double is not necessary if the partnership agreement is that the available side suit can be bid and constitutes a general game try. For example:
South West North East 1 2 2 3 ?
In this auction, since Spades is not the maximum suit, then South has an alternative approach and this is entirely based upon the partnership agreement. North-South can agree to any or all of the following:
1. A bid of 3, since there is room for this bid, is generally reserved as invitational. This bid is considered to be conventional and forcing. 2. A bid of 3 is generally agreed to mean a sign-off in the original suit. 3. A double can then be considered to be for penalty. This is an optional partnership agreement.
If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.