1NT Overcalled or Doubled
     
 
to conventions this page was first written: 28-Feb-2009
  this page was last updated: 28-Feb-2009
 
     
 
 
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When your 1NT opening gets overcalled or doubled

 
 

Systems on? Systems off? Lebensohl? Stolen bid? There are numerous treatments and agreements as to what to do when your partner's 1NT opening gets doubled or overcalled and in fact the solution often depends upon what the double or overcall means.

 
 

The basic philosophy used is that double of an overcall is penalties, Systems (Stayman and transfers) are generally off and Lebensohl is used. Let's start at the beginning, partner opens 1NT and RHO says:

 
 
   
Double If this is penalties then there are various options. Playing a strong 1NT there is often no need to run and a popular treatment is to pass which forces opener to redouble. You then take it from there either pass with a reasonable chance of making or else run.
 
 
  Playing a weak 1NT the double is much more likely to be for penalties and there is more need to have a defensive scheme; Helvic or the Staveley Wriggle are typical.
   
 

If this shows a single suited hand (unspecified) as in DONT, or any meaning other than penalties, then ignore the double and systems are on.

   
   
2♣ If this is natural then dbl = penalties and all other bids are Lebensohl.
   
  If 2 shows a single suited hand (as in Cappelletti) then dbl = Stayman and systems are on.
   
  If 2 shows both majors (as in Multi Landy) then dbl shows at least one 4-card major and a hand possibly willing to defend a major suit contract. Other bids are Lebensohl and 3 shows a game forcing hand with 's.
   
   
2 If this is natural then dbl = penalties and all other bids are Lebensohl.
   
  If 2 shows a single suited hand (as in Multi Landy) then dbl = Stayman and other bids are Lebensohl except that 3 would show a game forcing hand with a suit.
   
  If 2 shows both majors (as in Cappelletti) then dbl shows at least one 4-card major and a hand possibly willing to defend a major suit contract. Other bids are Lebensohl except that 3 would show a game forcing hand with a suit.
   
   
2/ Double = penalties of the suit bid and play Lebensohl, regardless of whether the bid is natural or shows the suit bid and another suit.
   
   

3-level overcalls

As this presumably shows a good long suit then dbl for penalties is unlikely to be needed, so double is negative (but opener is not expected to re-open with a double if you pass). If the overcall is a major then the negative dbl should guarantee 4 cards in the other major.

 
 
     
 

Note. Over all of these artificial 2/ overcalls and similar, responder can always pass even with a decent hand as the bid is virtually forcing. A subsequent double would then be for penalties.

 
     
  Note 2 . that the 'double of stolen bid' philosophy (i.e. double means I wanted to bid that) is hardly ever used (only when the overcall is a conventional 2 showing a single suited hand somewhere then double is Stayman). Double is usually best used as penalties - either a penalty of a natural overcall or a penalty of at least one of the suits if it is a two-suited overcall.  
     
  Note 3. I have only mentioned three defences (DONT, Multi Landy and Cappeletti). The same general philosophy (double to show a penalty hand of at least one suit shown and use Lebensohl) is alsoapplicable to other conventional overcalls.  
     
     
 
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