I have reached the point at which many beginner and intermediate books tend to grind to a halt.  I am well aware that the reader also has a tendency to grind to a halt at this point even when the guidance doesn’t.

There are good reasons why the writings in this area are thin on the ground.

In many situations, overcaller’s hand will be quite tightly defined.  The possible continuations tend not to be numerous, and they were probably discussed at the same time as the overcall.

This applies in particular to weak jump overcalls, natural overcalls in no trumps, and the immediate double.

I will repeat any advice relating to these situations in the following pages, and perhaps consider one or two extended sequences which were not analysed earlier, but there is little original in these pages.

It is when partner overcalls with a simple bid in a new suit that the going gets difficult, simply because this bid is so wide-ranging.

There are many chapters written about advancer’s actions when he has support for overcaller’s suit.

These are indeed the most important hands, and I shall repeat more or less standard advice relating to this scenario.

However, I have found that the guidance for advancer after partner has made a simple suit-overcall and advancer holds some strength but no fit is much more difficult to come by.

On the relevant page I have introduced some rules which might aid judgement in this area.

It is true that we have reached a point in the auction where judgement is of the essence, and where the reevaluation of your hand in view of the auction to date is paramount. The judgements made by world experts tend to owe more to experience and ‘feel’ than to a simple set of rules.  However the player advancing from beginner to and through an intermediate standard needs more help than this.

The rules and point ranges which I suggest on these pages are not set in stone.  Start by learning them and playing to them, and then as you progress feel free to discard them as no more than guidelines.

We are by definition in a contested auction.  Your left-hand opponent has opened the bidding and your partner has either overcalled or doubled.

Right-hand opponent may or may not have entered the fray and this is an important consideration as the presence or absence of a double (or a redouble or a cue-bid) affects the choice of competitive bids available to you.

The aims of your side have not changed.  If the hand belongs to the opposition then you want to bid up as quickly as you can in the hope that they will be forced to guess at their best contract -  if the hand happens to be yours then you must be able to show your holding in a constructive manner - and if there are contracts both ways then you must decide how far to compete and when to try for a penalty.

I should emphasise some points already made in the section on overcalling.

The double is by no means the only action available to overcaller when holding a hand with opening values. However, the immediate double will always promise values and more often than not these will equate to opening strength.  It is therefore imperative that advancer has bids available to search for a contract and not just to obstruct or sacrifice.

Similarly, a natural overcall in no trumps shows a genuine interest in competing for a contract or a penalty.

Partner’s overcall in a suit however, although it might disguise a holding of as many as sixteen points (or possibly even eighteen depending on the partnership understanding), will be obstructive or lead-directing far more often than it will be the starting point for a constructive search for your own making game contract.  With this in mind you, as advancer, will prioritise increasing preemptive effect and giving guidance in defence.  Weak raises based on trump length will be the order of the day, and your decision as to whether or not to make a particular bid will frequently depend on whether or not you wish partner to lead that suit in defence.

Finally, I should perhaps reiterate one of our guiding principles.

If partner’s overcall has indicated length then we will not attempt to rescue on a weak hand.

We might find some kind of raise with trump support, or we might search for a better contract if we hold a good hand, but without these we will just keep quiet.

For the continuations specific to the opponents’ opening bid follow the links on the left.

Beginner and above

This page last revised 19th June 2017

Theory and Conventions

M J Bridge