Theory and Conventions

M J Bridge




Opponents opened 1NT

The partnership methods and/or overcaller’s judgement may differ when facing weak and strong no trump opening bids.

Such matters were discussed in the section on overcaller’s first bid.

All that matters at this point is to recognize the method and the style which applies in the present situation, and then to respond honestly according to the partnership agreement.

On the following pages I shall first consider your actions when partner makes a strong double.  Such a bid is part of any natural method and is also included in a number of conventional methods - particularly those which are in common use facing a weak no trump.

I shall also look briefly at your options facing a natural suit overcall.

Following that I shall look in turn at the standard continuations if your agreed method is one of the conventional options discussed earlier.

RHO intervenes

Your actions will, of course, be affected by continuing enemy action.

How you deal with such interference will be considered within the context of each convention, but there is a consideration which you might not find mentioned anywhere else, mainly because most bridge writers play only in clubs and tournaments in which all their opponents know what they’re doing!

It goes without saying that your decisions, if not your methods, will be affected by the strength shown by RHO’s bid, and here we hit a difficulty.

Most well-organised partnerships will have a set of agreements regarding their actions when an opening bid of 1NT is overcalled.

Lebensohl in one of its various manifestations is the most common of such agreements.  Typically a bid by responder at the two-level will be weak - or at least below invitational strength - a bid at the three-level is likely to be game-forcing, a bid of 2NT is likely to be artificial and may disguise both weak and strong meanings, and double is likely to promise some values (i.e. your opponents have more points than you do) whether the double is of the penalty or the take-out variety.  You will be able to choose your methods and judge your actions accordingly.

Your problem will come against those opponents who do not have a clear agreement about whether responder’s bid is competitive or constructive - i.e. whether it is weak or strong.  I’m afraid that I have no easy solution for you - you will have to make a judgement call, and sometimes you will get it wrong.

Incidentally, this might suggest an argument for adopting a style in which your bid as responder promises a holding in the suit but says nothing else about the strength of the hand - it will certainly give your opponents a headache on occasion.  However, such an approach will give partner at least as big a headache, and will on occasion lead to his passing when there is a game available and to his bidding a game when there is nothing on.

I shall continue to recommend that your agreements as the opening side are of the ‘clearly defined’ variety.

Beginner and above

Overcaller’s first bid

Overcaller’s rebid