Competitive Double

The origin of the competitive double is unknown. The bridge player will discover that practically all players are competing for the contract. Your opponents are bidding to keep you out of a game contract, making you believe that you do not have enough strength to make game. Your opponents are bidding simply to disrupt the Line of Communication between you and your partner.

With their intervening overcalls, the opponents are making it difficult for you and your partner to exchange descriptive information about your hands; the opponents are disrupting the line of communication.

The Competitive Double was designed to remedy this situation by allowing the bridge player:

1. to invite partner either to bid game, and
2. to give partner the chance to sign off in a partscore, or
3. to simply pass for penalty.


North   East   South   West
1   2   2   3
Pass   Pass   ?    

In the above situation, South does not know whether to bid 3 Hearts or pass. North has passed and South is assuming that North is leaving the decision up to him. This is where the Competitive Double comes into play. South has maximum values, but South does not know whether his hand is better in defense or in offense. Therefore, South simply doubles.

After the Competitive Double, West will pass 3 Clubs doubled, since this means game. North, however, recognizes the Competitive Double, and will base his bidding decision upon the length, strength and shape of his hand as in the following three examples.

North   North   North
4 (Game Try)   3 (Partscore)   Pass (Penalty)

By using the Competitive Double, North and South will find their best contract. Through the descriptive information provided by the double, the other partner will be able to make a more educated decision than just guessing. Since this situation comes up quite often, it is advisable to adopt the Competitive Double as part of your Partnership Agreement, because opponents love to get in a bid to mess up the auction.

The following is a bridge article authored by Mr. Phillip Alder, published in September 19, 2010. The article is presented in order that the reader is aware of the nature of the competitive double in competitive auctions. This particular article is only archived and preserved on this site for its relevancy in explaining the nature of this particular call.


At the Buffett Cup in Wales, a Defensive-Signaling Show

The third Buffett Cup, contested between Europe and the United States last week in Cardiff, Wales, featured several excellently played and defended deals. The one in the diagram exhibited signaling that makes defense more accurate.


North/South: Vulnerable
Dealer: North
North: Daniela von Arnim
East: Bobby Levin
South: Sabine Auken
West: Steve Weinstein

North   East   South   West
Pass   Pass   Pass   1
1   2   Double   Redouble
Pass   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   3   Double
Pass   Pass   Pass    

At the other table the first six calls were the same. Then David Berkowitz (South for the United States) passed over two Hearts, and Jason Hackett (West) jumped to four Hearts. Alan Sontag (North) led the Spade Queen. Declarer won with his Ace, returned a Spade to his King and led another Spade, discarding dummy's remaining Club. South ruffed his partner's trick and shifted to a trump, but declarer won with his Ace, ruffed a Club in the dummy, played a Diamond to his Ace, trumped his last Club, and conceded a Spade and a Heart for plus 420.

In the given auction, after three passes, Steve Weinstein (West for the United States) opened one Hearts, Daniela von Arnim (North) overcalled one Spade, Bobby Levin (East) raised to two Hearts, and Sabine Auken (South) made an aggressive competitive double, showing length in the two unbid suits and tolerance for Spades.

Note to the reader: This is the essential part of the auction, in which a player employed a competitive double to convey information to partner. Only with this information is the partner in a position to determine any following bids or calls.

Since his opponents were vulnerable, West redoubled, expressing an interest in obtaining a penalty. Two Spades doubles would have cost 800 if East received a Club ruff, so South did well to run to three Clubs.

South had five losers: two Spades, one Heart, one Diamond and one Club. Could the defense get one more trick for plus 500?

West led the Diamond aAce.

Levin and Weinstein usually signal suit preference at Trick 1 against a trump contract. And here, since the lead was surely a singleton, it was even clearer to do so. East was expected to show, with the Diamond that he played, where his side-suit entry lay. He would have played a high Diamond with a potential Spade entry, or his lowest Diamond with a possible Heart entry. Having no quick winner, East signaled with the five, a middle card.

West shifted to the Heart Queen. After declarer won with dummy's King, East signaled upside-down encouragement with his deuce.

South called for the Club King. East took his Ace and returned the Diamond three, his lowest card being a suit-preference signal reinforcing that he held the Heart Jack.

West ruffed and confidently continued with a low Heart to his partner's Jack. East led another Diamond, which would have resulted in down three if West had had the Club Jack. Here, though, West's Club nine was overruffed by dummy's ten. Declarer drew the missing trump and conceded two Spades.

Down two, plus 500, won the point on the board for the United States en route to victory in the event, making the series 2 to 1 to the United States.



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.