Negative doubles

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Negative doubles are a cheap way of exploring if there are defensive interference possibilities in a major suit. It is used only after an opponent has opened the auction.

“Negative” in this case means that the bidder is NOT challenging the opponent’s ability to make a contract in the suit he or she just bid. It means something else.

Negative doubles most often occur after the following sequence

North East South West
1 Pass 1 (or 1 1s) Double

This double is a negative double and means: “I have a pretty good hand, enough for a light overcall, with four Spades (or four Hearts, as the case could be).” In other words, the negative double means the player using the bid has four cards in the major unbid major suit. If he/she had at least five Spades, he/she would simply have bid 1 Spade. (And if he/she had at least 5 Hearts, he/she would simply bid a 2 Hearts overcall over a 1 Spade opener.)

If partner also happens to have 4 Spades and a few points, the opponents may be able to reach a good “stealing” or “sacrificing” contract in that suit, which would otherwise be hard to find.

And even if the openers eventually do get the contract, the “negative double” bidding may be a good lead-directing defensive strategy.

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  1. Melvin Patterson says:

    What is a Barry Crane double? I was in a bidding auction that went like this
    Dealer East
    N/S – Vul
    East South West North
    1club pass 1diamond 1spade
    Dbl 2spades Dbl pass
    3hearts pass pass 3spades
    pass pass pass
    What was the first? Was it showing 4 hearts?
    Was the second responsive also saying bid the hearts I also have 4 ?
    I was told that the first should have been alerted as a Barry Crane Double.
    You opinion is needed

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