Does a Negative Double of 1D show both majors?

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Another recent question was …

Does a negative double of 1♦ after partner opens 1!C show both majors?

The standard treatment is that a negative double of 1♦ after partner opens 1!C shows both majors, usually 4-4. Longer and unequal lengths such as 5-4 or 4-5 are possible with a weak hand.

Here is why the double needs to be both majors: Due to the way Bridge scoring works, it is extremely important to find your eight-card major suit fits. In a competitive auction you need to do this as quickly as possible. This means that if you have only one major, even if it is only four-cards long, you must bid it right away so partner knows which one you have. When the opponents overcall 1♥, you can use a negative double to show four spades and bid 1 ♠ to show five because, unlike after a 1♦ overcall, there is no ambiguity as to which major your side holds.

Ask your partner how they would feel looking at a 2-4-3-4 pattern after these auctions if the negative double promised only one (unknown) major :

1!C 1♦ Double 2♦ 1!C1♦ Double 3♦

You can make a negative double with a 5-4 or 4-5 in the majors on two types of hands: First, a hand which is so weak that it can only take one bid (usually less than eight points). Second, a hand that would be stuck for a rebid after biddng the five-card major if the auction were to continue with a diamond raise:

1!C 1♦ 1 Major 2♦
Pass Pass ??

In other words, a hand that is not strong enough to bid the five-card major and then reopen with double (showing a good 10 points or more) might prefer double followed by bidding the five-card major, which shows a maximum of a poor 10 points. Most often the hand that makes a negative double with nine cards in the majors will have four spades and five hearts, because bidding 1♥ and following with 2♠ is a game force. On the other hand, bidding 1♠ and then reopening with 2♥ can be done on as little as an attractive eight points.

7 thoughts on “Does a Negative Double of 1D show both majors?

  1. Beverly Klages

    My partner opens one club….I have three points and pass…
    I only have one club….of course, we went down…
    Partner had 14 points….I was the bad guy…..
    Please answer….

  2. Kitty Cooper Post author

    Sorry for the delay answering. There is no good answer.
    Sometimes you go down.

    Many pairs have the agreement that with club shortness and a weak hand you respond to one club with less than 6 points when vulnerable to avoid going down 100 a trick. Then you pass whatever partner next bids.

  3. Delta

    Say South Pass West opens 1♤ North 2♧ East 2♤ South Double *
    Is this * a Negative double showing hearts and diamonds or a Penalty double.

  4. harold little

    I thought that a modern treatment of a negative double of 1D after a 1C opening by partner showed values and support for both majors but not necessarily four or more in both majors. To-day I held S-KJ109 H-A107 D-54,C-K975 and made a negative double which my partner criticized but I felt was the best bid as my hand is strong enough to handle diamond raises by the opponents or any bid by partner. Comments please

  5. Kitty M Cooper

    No the modern treatment is both majors for all the reasons in the article above. The bid is 1!S with the hand you held.


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