Last week I offered some ground rules for takeout doubles in the direct seat. They can be described as SOS:

S: Shortness in opponent’s suit.

O: Opening points as potential dummy. You can double with 10 high-card points and a void, 11 HCP and a singleton or 12 HCP and a doubleton.

S: Support for unbid suits with at least three cards in each.

Well, there are exceptions to most any rule, and they certainly exist in bridge. Reader Leo Sartori, many-time champion at the Northampton MA Bridge Club, writes, “I suggest an addendum to your SOS rules: with a big hand (good 16 or 17+ HCP) you don’t need to have three-card support in every suit to make a takeout double.  Say you hold A K J x x, x x, K x, A Q x x, and RHO opens 1♥ . You are too strong to overcall 1 ♠. You must first double, then bid your spades.”

You’ll note that Leo doubled with two hearts and two diamonds. Your spade bid “corrects” the original double with clarifying information. If you have more than 19 points, you’ll make a jump bid or a delayed 1NT (19-20 HCP) in search of a game contract.

Here’s another area where experts double without the 3+ support for unbid suits. With two four-card majors and standard support, they’ll double holding an unbid two-card minor. Let’s say your right-hand opponent opens 1♣ , and you hold:

♠ A J 6 4
♥ K Q 10 6
♦ 5 4
♣ K 5 3

These experts will double and risk a 1♦, four-card response from partner. There’s a better than even chance that partner will respond in a major, bid 1NT, or hold 5+ diamonds.

We’ve been talking about takeout doubles in the direct seat. What are the qualifications for them in the balancing seat?

1        ♠        Pass        Pass           ?

Since your partner is likely to have some strength, you can “borrow” from partner with a hand three points short of standard takeout range:
♠ 7 4
♥ Q J 5 3
♦ K J 4
♣ K 8 4 2

So double, hope for a heart fit and settle for whatever partner bids.