Equal Level Conversion
Let's say you have the following hand, and your RHO opens the bidding with 1H.
S - QJxx
H - xx
D - AKxxx
C - Kx
You certainly want to compete, but if you make a takeout double you can count on
your partner (dimwit that he is) to respond 2C. Now you can't correct to diamonds or chance a 4-3 fit in spades
because a free rebid on your part shows 17 HCP or more and a 6 card suit. So you either overcall 2D or Pass, in
both cases likely missing a 4-4 fit in spades if it exists. What to do?
The answer is a feature of the takeout double called Equal Level Conversion, covered in Andover Standard (look it up for a detailed explanation) and Washington Standard, and played by most good players. In the above example, you would double 1H and over Partner's expected 2C response you bid 2D. This specifically shows 4 spades and at least 5 diamonds and denies that you have as many as 17 HCP. The rule is that whenever you have a 4 card major and a longer minor (or 4 spades and longer hearts), you can double as long as the bidding can be kept at the same level as partner's response. This means that the higher ranking suit is always 4 cards, and your second suit is higher ranking than partner's expected response.
What do you do when you have 17 HCP or more and a good 6 card suit? If doubling and then bidding your suit will sound like ELC to partner, you must double and then jump in your suit. In the example given above, you would bid 3D after partner responds with 2C.
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