M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



The common-sense approach

The opponents’ double has changed everything.

There will now be some hands on which you would have passed, but on which you now want to cash in because you know you hold the balance of points, and there will be other hands on which you might have passed even though you knew the contract was failing, but on which you now need to find a hopefully cheaper escape.

9 7 6 3 2

T 8

Q 8 7 4

K 6

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2 - your lowest five-card suit.

It might not be much of a suit, but it can hardly be worse than 1NTx, and you might escape without a double.

The two agreements above are straightforward and effective, but with nothing more they leave you with nowhere to go when holding a seriously weak hand and no five-card suit.


The only option given just the two agreements above is to pass.

Just imagine yourself with three points facing partner’s thirteen (say) and vulnerable.  Five tricks would be about par for the course to score -500.

Extended agreements

Option 1

An obvious extension is to agree to bid your cheapest four-card suit when holding a really weak hand (perhaps up to five points) with no five-card suit.

On the plus side your pass will now promise at least a few points - six to eight say - which partner will count on if the opponents try to take off.

But against this there is a real danger that your intended escape will locate a 4-2 fit, with partner not knowing if it might be 5-2.  There will be some doubled disasters, quite possibly as expensive as the  1NTx contract hypothesised above.

It won’t always be that bad - there is a fair chance of locating at least a 4-3 fit - your opponents might not double - and quite frequently they will start bidding in search of a contract their way, which will solve your problem.

This option is better than nothing if you have no alternative method at your disposal but it is considerably less than ideal.

Option 2

Alternatively, and better, stick with the five-card requirement for an immediate suit bid and move the requirement to find an escape back to opener.

In other words, play your pass as forcing - if you pass and LHO passes then partner must find some sort of bid.

(Note that, depending on your subsequent choices, this may not be exactly the same forcing pass convention which we will encounter in various conventional wriggles in due course.)

The simplest agreement is that opener on his rebid will always make an ‘S.O.S. redouble’ after which you will each bid four-card suits up the line until at least a 4-3 fit is located.

A 7 6 2

T 8 3

Q 8 7 4

K 6

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

You have nine points, and partner at least twelve - total twenty one or more.

Redouble - happy to play in 1NTxx, or to defend as your opponents bid on.

Post-beginner to intermediate

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Context  -  Partner opened 1NT - RHO doubled (natural).

This page last revised 6th Aug 2019

What follows below is a natural, simple, and sensible way of dealing with a double on your right.

Redouble promises values

If you hold a modicum of points then you must find some way of conveying the good news to partner that this hand belongs to your side. The easiest way to do this is to redouble, more than happy to play in 1NTxx if left and laying the groundwork for a subsequent penalty double should your opponents look for an escape.

The exact definition of ‘some values’ is a matter for partnership discussion.

Most common is a minimum of nine HCP.

Some partnerships prefer a minimum requirement of ten, and there is a strong argument for a minimum of eight, thereby allowing partner to declare 1NTxx on a combined total of at least twenty points.

I shall assume in the following that you have agreed a minimum of nine.

A 7 6 2

T 8 3

Q 8 7 4

K 6

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

You would have passed partner’s 1NT in the uncontested auction, but now there is the possibility of making game in 1NTxx.

It would be a wasted opportunity not to do anything.

8 7 6 2

T 8 3

Q 8 7 4

6 5

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

This could be expensive - particularly if vulnerable.

You need to find a way out of the mess.

Note that the redouble will not be used in this way as we move on to better known conventional methods, nor will it ever be used in this way when partner opens one of a suit.

Lowest level bid in a suit is a weak escape

With less than nine points your aim should be to escape to a suit contract.  Ideally you will find at least a seven-card fit at the two-level and will escape a further double.

The obvious approach is that any bid by you promises a five-card suit in a weak hand.  Opener is expected to pass (even when holding a doubleton).  Note that for our present purposes a weak hand is anything up to eight points.

9 7 6 2

T 8 3

Q 8 7 4

K 6

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.


Partner must reopen with a redouble following which you will bid 2.  You will then pass a correction into either 2 or 2.

The methods on this page are not ideal, but (with option 2 included) they will serve you well through and beyond an intermediate level.

However, most ambitious partnerships will adopt one of the better known conventional ‘wriggles’ along the way.

Choose either ‘exit transfers’ or ‘an extended wriggle’.