brh04.gif
Main Page - Lesson Deals - Play Technique
Previous - Lessons - Next
Contract Bridge
LESSON 14
Overcalls and Takeout Doubles

  1. Simple Overcalls
  2. Responses to Overcalls at the 1 or 2 level
  3. Takeout Doubles
  4. Responses to a takeout Double
  5. Responsive Double
  6. The 1 NT Overcall
  7. Jump Overcalls
  8. Deals 41 to 44
  9. Quiz - Answers - Review

    Bidding Guide : BG-8


(
Down Fast - Top)

BR 14.1 - Simple Overcalls

When the Opponents open the bidding your side becomes the "defending side", and you should follow the principles of defensive bidding. You can make two types of bids : Overcalls and Takeout Doubles.

When the Opponents open the bidding it means that they hold probably at least 13+ points, and the chances of making a Game contract yourself have reduced considerably. Therefore the objectives of an Overcall, in order of their priorities, are :

  1. To give Partner a signal for a good opening lead

  2. To obstruct the Opponents' bidding

  3. To compete for a part score or, less likely, Game contract for your side.

Overcalls are usually made at the 1 or 2 level, but occasionally also at the 3 or even 4 level (up to 4♦), when an Opponent made a pre-emptive opening bid.
The requirements for making an Overcall are :

  1. at the 1 level :   8 - 15 points plus a quality 5+ card suit (value 7+)

  2. at the 2 level : 11 - 15 points plus a quality 5+ card suit (value 8+)

  3. at the 3-4 level : 12 - 15 points plus a quality 5+ card suit (value 9+)

The Suit Quality test
For an overcall the quality of the suit you bid is more important than the strength of the hand. To determine the quality of your long suit : count the number of cards in your long suit and add to it the number of Honours you hold in that suit.

Length + Honours = Value

Count the Jack or 10 only if they are supported by a Queen or higher.
If the Quality value of your suit is equal to (or higher than) the number of tricks you bid, make the overcall. If it is less Pass. (Be especially vigilant about your suit's quality value when your side is vulnerable.)


(
Down - Up)

Hand 1
You hold Hand 1 below.
The strength is 12 HCP + 1 LP = 13 points.
The quality value of the Heart suit is 5 + 3 = 8

br13/br1401.gif
If the Opponents open with :
  1. 1D   >   > You overcall with 1H

  2. 1S   >   > You overcall with 2H

(
Down - Up)

Hand 2
You hold Hand 2 below.
The strength is 8½ HCP + 1 LP = 9½ points.
The quality value of the Heart suit is 5 + 2 = 7

br13/br1402.gif
If the Opponents open with :
  1. 1D   >   > You overcall with 1H

  2. 1S   >   > You Pass (with a Quality 7 suit do not make an overcall at the 2 level)

(
Down - Up)

Hand 3
You hold Hand 3 below.
The strength is 9½ HCP + 1 LP = 10½ points.
The quality value of the Heart suit is 5 + 1 = 6

br13/br1403.gif
If the Opponents open with :
  1. 1D   >   > You Pass (do not make an overcall with a suit quality of 6 or less)

  2. 1S   >   > You Pass

(
Down - Up)

Hand 4
You hold Hand 4 below.
The strength is 10½ HCP + 2 LP = 12½ points.
The quality value of the Heart suit is 6 + 2 = 8

br13/br1404.gif
If the Opponents open with :
  1. 1D   >   > You overcall with 1H

  2. 1S   >   > You overcall with 2H


(
Down Fast - Up - Top)

BR 14.2 - Responses to Overcalls at the 1 or 2 level

An overcall is a limit bid, showing 15 HCPs or less (16 pts including length). As responder you may therefore pass at any time. With 8 points or less always pass, unless you have an unusual hand with a very long (6+ card) suit.

With 9-10 points or more you should find a suitable response.
In order of their priority

  1. Raise Partner's suit with 3+ card support

  2. Bid NT when balanced plus a stopper in the enemy suit

  3. Or, as last resort, bid your own 5+ card suit (hereby denying support for Partner's suit)
After Partner's overcall at the 1 level brillqh.gif
  • with 9 - 12 points - make a single raise of Partner's suit, or bid 1 NT

  • with 13 - 15 points - make a jump raise of Partner's suit, or bid 2 NT

  • with 9 - 15 points - and unable to raise Partner or bid NT, bid your own 5+ card suit

  • with 16+ points - raise to Game in Partner's suit, bid 3 NT, or make a jump shift in your own 5+ card suit
After Partner's overcall at the 2 level
  • with 13 - 14 points - invite to Game by bidding 3 in Partner's suit or bid 2 NT

  • with 15+ points - raise to Game in Partner's suit, bid 3 NT, or make a jump shift in your own 5+ card suit

  • with 10 - 15 points - and unable to raise Partner or bid NT bid your own good 5+ card suit

The original overcaller may pass with a weak hand when he sees no opportunity to a Game contract. Otherwise he may invite Game or go to Game himself.


(
Down - Up)

Hand 5
You hold Hand 5 below.

br13/br1405.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1C) - 1H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 3H (with 15 + 1 = 16 pts and trump support Jump raise Partner's suit

  2. (1H) - 1S - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2NT (15 pts, no trump support, but balanced with enemy suit stopper

  3. (1S) - 2H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 4H (with 15 + 1 = 16 pts and trump support raise Partner's suit to Game

(
Down - Up)

Hand 6
You hold Hand 6 below.
br13/br1406.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1C) - 1H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2H (with 11 + 1 = 12 pts and trump support single raise Partner's suit

  2. (1H) - 1S - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 1NT (11 pts, no trump support, but balanced with enemy suit stopper

  3. (1S) - 2H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 3H (invites Partner to raise to Game with a maximum : 14-16 pts)

(
Down - Up)

Hand 7
You hold Hand 7 below.

br13/br1407.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1C) - 1H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2C (with 13 + 1 = 14 pts, no trump support, no enemy suit stopper

  2. (1H) - 1S - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2C (with 13 + 1 = 14 pts, no trump support, no enemy suit stopper

  3. (1S) - 2H - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 3C (with 13 + 1 = 14 pts, no trump support, no enemy suit stopper


(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 14.3 - Takeout Doubles

When the Opponents have opened the bidding while you hold a weak opening hand of 15 points or less you should normally pass. In most cases you are much better of to defend and get the Opponents down, rather than finding a risky contract yourself.

With a weak opening hand make a bid only when you are short in the enemy suit. In such a case you make a Takeout Double.

A Double is for Takeout (rather than penalty) when it is a double below the Game level
and Partner has not bid (except perhaps pass).

A Takeout Double shows :
  1. a hand of 12-15 points with a doubleton or less in the enemy suit and strength in the unbid major suits. With both majors unbid you should hold a 4-3 distribution in them or better.

  2. or a hand of 16+ points too strong for an overcall.
For example with Hand 8 below
Pass when they open with 1D. You are in a strong position to defend.
Also if your Partner makes an overcal in Clubs or Spades you can support him, and if he overcalls in Hearts you can bid 2NT showing your point range and (most importantly) that you have the enemy suit covered.

br13/br1408.gif
If on the other hand Opponents open with 1H you double showing a 4+ card Spade suit and 12 points or more.



(
Down Fast - Up - Top)

BR 14.4 - Responses to Takeout Doubles

When your Partner makes a takeout double you may not leave him in that bid but must respond, even with no points at all. However if your right hand Opponents has made a bid over your Partner's double you may pass with 5 points or less.
Here are the standard responses after a Takeout Double.

br13/br1409.gif
Comment on the NT Responses

With a strong (13+ pts) hand yourself and no clear choice to bid you may cue bid the enemy suit (bidding the enemy suit at the next level). This signals to Partner that a Game contract should be on and asks him to specify his hand.


(
Down - Up)

Hand 9
You hold Hand 9 below.

br13/br1410.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1S) - DBL - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2H
    Even with less than 6 points you should make a bid. Bid Hearts as your Partner either has 4 Hearts himself or is strong enough to make another call.

  2. (1S) - DBL - (2C) - You ?   >   > Pass
    Your RH Opponent has bid, overtaking your Partner's double. With only 5 points you are too weak to make a proper response.

(
Down - Up)

Hand 10
You hold Hand 10 below.

br13/br1411.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1S) - DBL - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 3H
    With 13 points jumpbid your 4 card suit.

  2. (1H) - DBL - (Pass) - You ?   >   > 2NT
    With 13 points plus strength in the Opponent's suit bid 2NT. Partner's double shows he has the Spades covered.



(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 14.5 - The Responsive Double

Say you hold Hand 11 below.
Your LH Opponent opened 1D and your Partner made a Take-out Double.


br13/br1412.gif

If your RH Opponent passes you have no other option than to respond to Partner's Take-out Double with a bid of 1H, hoping Partner holds a 4 card heart suit. If not, you may have to try spades at your next turn.

But if your RH Opponent raises Opener's suit to 2D, you can make a so-called "Responsive Double", telling Partner that you hold at least 4 cards in both major suits.

(1D) - DBL - (2D) - You : DBL

Now Partner can choose which major suit he prefers. Simple !


Optional
There is another use for the Responsive Double which you may wish to adopt if you wish.

Your LH Opponent opened with a major suit, say 1H, your Partner made a Take-out Double and your RH Opponent raised Opener's major.

(1H) - DBL - (2H) - You : DBL

Obviously your Partner's Take-out Double showed a 4-card spade suit.
In this case your Responsive Double shows (1) tolerance for Partner's major (2 or 3 cards in the suit) and (2) length in both minors.
You might for example hold something like this hand :

♠ 9 4     ♥ J 7 5     ♦ A J 6 4     ♣ K J 8 2


(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 14.6 - The 1 NT Overcall

Overcalls of 1NT are the same as an ordinary 1NT opening bid (showing 16-18 points and a balanced hand), except for one thing. You must have a stopper in the enemy suit, preferrably two if they are holding a 5+card suit.

Hand 12
You hold Hand 12 below.

br13/br1413.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1S) - You ?   >   > DBL
    You have a strong hand, with 18 points, but no stopper in the enemy's Spade suit. A double is the perfect bid here

  2. (1H) - You ?   >   > 1NT
    Showing a strong (16-18 pts) hand with a stopper in the enemy suit.

The 1NT Overcall in 4th position
You are Not Vulnerable, your left hand Opponent has opened the bidding, your Partner passed and your right hand Opponent responded with a suit bid at the 1 level.

For example : [1♣] - Pass (your Partner) - [1♥] - you ?

You hold :     ♠ - K 10 9 4     ♥ - Q J 9     ♦ - A 9 3     ♣ - K 10 3

In this case, although you hold only 14 points, overcall with 1NT. This forces Opponent to bid at the 2 level. If you let them bid and make 1NT they win 90 points. If on the other hand you play 1NT and go one down you lose only 50 points. If Opponents make an overtrick, scoring 120 points, you can go down 2, losing only 100 points instead. These are much superior lines of action when playing duplicate bridge.

When Not Vulnerable you can safely bid 1NT with as little as 10-15 points. When in 4th position with a strong hand of 16+ points, always double instead.
When you are Vulnerable you should be very wary of such action, because going 1 down will cost your side 100 points.

And remember do this only in 4th position. In 2nd or 3rd position, make the proper 1NT overcall (with 16-18 points).


(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 14.7 - Jump Overcalls

Traditionally jump opvercalls used to show a strong 17-18 points hand with a good 5+card suit. But in recent times these hands are expressed by a making a takeout double first, followed by a jumpbid at the next turn.

Jump overcalls are therefore free to express weak long 6+cards suited hands and follow the same bidding procedures and responses as pre-emptive (Lesson 13) and weak two opening bids (Lesson 16).
In general follow the Rule of 2 and 3

Hand 13
You hold Hand 13 below.

br13/br1414.gif
What is your response after the following bidding sequences (Opening Opponents' bids shown in brackets).
  1. (1S) - You ? (vulnerable)   >   > 3H

  2. (1S) - You ? (not vulnerable)   >   > 4H
All responses as per normal pre-emptive and weak 2 opening bids.



(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 14.8 - Deals 41 to 44

Deals 41 to 44 are examples of bidding and play as outlined in this lesson.



BR 14.9 - Quiz 14 - Answers - Review

(Up - Top - Links page)

Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.