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The Gates double is an extension of any conventional no-trump defense like Astro or Cappelletti that uses a penalty double. The Gates double is used by a passed hand that cannot possibly have the strength to make a natural penalty double.

WestNorthEastSouth
Pass
Double*
Pass

Pass

1NT


*Gates double


The meaning of the Gates double is up to partnership agreement. The following examples use Cappelletti as the context for doubling. You can of course tailor the meaning depending on your preferred 1NT defense.


A single-suited club hand

Double can show a single-suited club hand, asking partner to bid 2C. You can then simply pass.

WestEast
QJSK872
HT76943
DT3KQJ2
CAK9832T4

West    
Pass
Double (1)

North    
Pass
Pass

East    
Pass
2C (2)

South    
1NT
All pass

  1. Gates double, showing clubs
  2. Completing the relay

The alternative to doubling would be a 2C overcall (playing Cappelletti) to indicate a one-suiter. That would require rebidding 3C over partner's 2D relay, thereby pushing the contract one level higher.


A weak minor two-suiter

Alternatively, double can show a weak minor-suited hand, since a 2NT overcall promises at least 5-5 in the minors and forces the bidding to the 3-level. A Gates double could be made with lesser distribution or strength.


WestEast
62SKQJ7
H98A543
DQT74365
CAKJ9842

West    
Pass
Double (1)

North    
Pass
Pass

East    
Pass
2C (2)

South    
1NT
All pass

  1. Gates double, showing 5-4 or 4-5 minors
  2. Taking a preference

Depending how frisky you feel, you can double with hands like this and reserve 2NT for better hands. It won't always work, but it's an option.


5-4 major suits

Lastly, double could show both majors, with longer spades than hearts. Playing standard Cappelletti, a hand with both majors is shown via a 2D overcall. If partner then corrects to 2H with equal length in both majors (e.g. 3-3), then the better spade fit is missed whenever overcaller is 5-4. For example:

WestEast
AQT53S872
HKJT9754
D5A987
C972KQ6

West    
Pass
Double (1)

North    
Pass
Pass

East    
Pass
2S (2)

South    
1NT
All pass

  1. Gates double, showing 5-4 majors
  2. Knowing to bid spades instead of hearts

Without the Gates convention, West would be forced to bid 2D (Cappelletti) showing both majors. East would then correct to hearts and commit to the wrong major.

See also

  • Astro
    A defense to 1NT in which a double is for penalty, and 2/ overcalls are artificial.

  • Brozel
    A defense to 1NT in which a double shows a one-suited overcall, and all 2-level bids show specific 2-suited hands.

  • Cappelletti (Hamilton)
    A defense to 1NT in which double is for penalty, and 2-level overcalls are conventional.

  • Landy
    A (very old) defense to 1NT in which a 2C overcall shows both majors.

  • Multi-Landy (Woolsey)
    A very scientific defense to 1NT.

  • Pinpoint Astro
    A variation of the Astro convention, using double as penalty.

  • Ripstra
    A slight variation of the Landy convention.

  • Roche
    A (very old) defense to 1NT in which a 2C overcall shows 12-14 points and 3+ clubs.

  • SCUM
    A defense to 1NT that shows two-suiters by Shape, Color and the Major suits.

  • Suction
    A restricted defense to 1NT that uses ambiguous overcalls.

  • Thrump Double
    A double of a 3-level preempt asking partner to bid 3NT with a stopper.

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