S T O L E N   B I D S
Partner, He Took My Bid!

Your partner opens 1NT and the next hand bids...

Stolen Bids
Very few advanced players use Stolen Bid Doubles, but a great many club players like them.  They're easy to learn and when they work they solves problems, but like any artificial agreement they have problems of their own.  Let's look at the benefits and the problems.  (And you ask, "What do the better players use?"  Most all of them are using Lebensohl

Here's a quick description of a Stolen Bid double:
If the overcall leaves you room to make the call you were going make, you don't have a problem.  go ahead and bid it.   But the purpose of the Stolen Bid Double is to allow you to still bid Stayman and Jacoby Transfer bids as though no overcall had been made.

  South      West      North      East   
1NT      2      P      Dbl             The double tells partner that you would have bid 2 as a Stayman call

Here's another sequence:

  South      West      North      East   
1NT      2      P      Dbl             This time your double of 2 is a transfer to hearts

This agreement has two main problems:
  • First, you no longer have a penalty double -- Aggressive opponents will make light overcalls you cannot double for penalty
  • Next, there are many situations where it is not always possible to use the double -- For example, in some defensive conventions a bid of 2 shows the majors, so you would not want to double as a transfer to hearts.  (But you might like to tell partner you hold diamonds.)
    The same is true if the opponents are using Landy, where a bid of 2 shows the majors.  You surely do not want to double to indicate a Stayman bid.

    Lebensohl or Something Else
    Lebensohl is a complex convention, but it easily solves the problems that make Stolen Bid Doubles a poor choice of an agreement.  Consider learning it with your best partner.

    Well and good, you say, but what can we do until we learn Lebensohl?
      There are agreements that are simple and effective...
    • Give up Transfers.      If you have a 5-card major go ahead and bid it
    • Double for penalty.     (But over a natural 2 call treat the double as Stayman like the experts do)
    • Use a cue bid as forcing and treat it as Stayman

    And remember...  when you use Stolen Bid Doubles you are telling the opponents this:
      Go ahead and bid, cause we won't punish you!

      If you would like to see more about Stolen Bid Doubles, try:  

      But... You really should learn Lebensohl!  

      Roy Wilson