The origin of this version of the takeout double is unknown. The concept has been designated as off shape takeout double or off shape double, and both are correct within the language of the bridge community.
The concept behind this particular double is that the doubler is not promising a holding equivalent to or meets the requirement of a traditional takeout double. The doubler does not have at least 3 cards support in the unbid suits, rather only the values to compete in the auction with a call of double rather than bidding a particular suit.
This variation on the concept of the takeout double is also known as minimum off shape takeout double, which refers to the required minimum values of the holding. The required minimum values of the holding should be that of an opening bid. However, the semi-official, regular, and accepted designation of the concept is off-shape takeout double.
The following example shows the employment of such a double in competition. It occurred at the Third European Open Bridge Championships conducted in Antalya, Turkey, between June 15 and June 30, 2007, and reported in Bulletin 4.
The analyst recognizes immediately the off shape of the holding by East, which normally would not justify a call of double. The analyst will also immediately recognize that East/West may have a chance at a 3 No Trump game contract if partner holds any stopper(s) in the suit of the opponent. To bid 4 Diamonds over the opening of 3 Spades would not permit the partnership to explore this possibility.
Board 3 Dealer: South Vulnerable: East-West
Phillipe Soulet North
KQ10983 965 K J106
Espen Erichsen West
AJ4 K103 95 97542
Helen Erichsen East
7652 A4 AQ102 AQ8
Michel Bessis South
QJ872 J87643 K3
South West North East Pass Pass 3 Double Pass 3 NT Pass Pass Pass
East has a difficult bid over both two Spades and three Spades. Pass might well be the popular choice. Two Spades actually went three off for 150 to France. In the Closed Room Helen Erichsen’s off-shape take-out double led to a thin Three No Trump for Espen Erichsen.
Philippe Soulet led the Spade King and when South threw a Diamond. Espen Erichsen, fearful of a Heart switch, won at once to tackle Clubs. When North played low he faced his first decision.
With only one entry back to hand he had to guess now. When he put in the Queen and it lost to the King, matters looked bad. However, Michel Bessis now switched to a low Heart.
Espen Erichsen put in the Ten and, needing this trick, let it win, even though this apparently blocked his route back to hand.
A winning line now is to play a Diamond, followed by the Ace of Hearts and two rounds of Clubs. North, on lead, has to concede an entry to the West hand. However, Espen Erichsen chose another successful route. He led a second Club to the Ace, then the Ace of Hearts and the third Club.
At this point Michel Bessis discarded a second Diamond. North won and switched to the King of Diamonds. Had South kept the extra Diamond declarer would have needed to duck the King to endplay North. He surely would have done this as he had a count on the hand, but with only three missing Diamonds Espen Erichsen could safely win the Ace, cash the Queen, and exit with a Diamond. Michel Bessis could cash two tricks in the suit, but had to concede the rest to West.
This was nail-biting 600 and 10 IMPs to Erichsen. The Norwegians lead 20-5.
Distribution - Pattern - Shape
If the opponent opens the auction with a Major suit and the next player holds a distribution of 3M-2M-4D-4C and opening point count, the question remains whether the player in rotation should double. It is not in question as to whether the player in rotation may make a call of double, since this action is not penalized by the official Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge.
The question is whether the player should make such an off-shape takeout double, and whether it is to the advantage of the player to risk such a gambling action.
The guidelines are few and the employment questionable, but sponsoring organizations do allow such off-shape doubles for takeout. The recommended amount of values equals that of a normal opening bid, especially if the opponent opens a Minor suit.
However, if the opponent opens a Major suit, then the values should increase by at least a Queen. Some partnerships require a King. The one requirement is that the pattern does not qualify the holding for a No Trump overcall, generally meaning that the player does hold a stopper in the suit of the opponent in order to make an overcall of No Trump.
In general, such off-shape doubles are seldom and are, to state the obvious, a gamble. However, they are employed often by players on the international level and at international events.
Ever since card games were invented, promoted, and became popular the feature of betting has accompanied such developed and regulated card games. In the matter of the off shape takeout double it is noticeable that the doubler has at least two chances out of three that partner, if able to compete, will not bid the shortage. This leaves only a 33% chance that partner will respond in the suit of the shortage.
The following example illustrates possible continuances for such a instance, in which the off shape takeout double indeed evokes a suit bid in the short suit.
South West North East (D) 2 double Pass 2 Pass
A1075 A2 73 AKJ85 3
The consensus is that if the advancer decides to bid the short suit following an off shape takeout double, then the doubler must correct to the better suit and gamble that this is the more preferred option. The advancer may have additional values in bidding sequences, in which the advancer is not a passed hand, and wish to continue the bidding.
Note: Any such continuances must be decided by the partnership as to whether they are forcing bids, non-forcing bids, sign-off bids, or to play.
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.
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