Theory and Conventions

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M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

Key questions and guiding principles


The following general guidelines to good bidding, and specific questions and answers relating to my recommended methods, are taken from the pages on bidding and are collected together here for quick reference.

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My guideline

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Can I open 1NT with a singleton?

I prefer not to, but it is an option subject to partnership agreement, in which case partner must announce the possibility each time.

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When do I open 1NT on a balanced 12-14 point hand with a good five-card minor?

Always.

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Can I open 1NT with an unstopped suit?

Yes, or even two unstopped suits if the shape is right.

Can I pass with a twelve-point balanced hand?

Yes.  The fact that you play a 12-14 point no trump does not mean that you have to open all hands in the range.

Think twice about opening a poor twelve points except in first seat.

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Does an opening 2NT always show 20-22 points?

No.  This is a matter for partnership agreement.

Initially I shall use a range of 20-22 points, and 2 followed by 2NT to show 23+.

You may as a partnership choose your own range within certain broad limits.

Which suit should I open with a 4-4-3-2 hand in the 15-19 point range?

With both majors bid hearts;

with a minor and a major bid the major;

with both minors bid the better suit.

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Your primary aim as opener should be to show the shape of your hand in two bids.

A secondary aim, if bidding space permits, is to give some indication of the strength of the hand.

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Can I open 1NT on a 12-14 point hand containing a five-card major?

Yes, if it has 5-3-3-2 shape.

I prefer to open 5-3-3-2 hands in the range with 1NT at teams, but with one of the major at pairs when the suit is rebiddable.

This page last revised 20th Mar 2018

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Does an opening 2NT always show a balanced hand?

No.  This is a matter for partnership agreement.

Balanced or semi-balanced.  Might contain a five-card major and/or a singleton ace.

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How strong should I be to open one of a suit in first or second seat?

A minimum ‘rule of nineteen’ provided that most of my points are in my long suits.

For a 5-4-2-2 shape there should be eleven points concentrated in the long suits together with an honest rebid.

For a 4-4-4-1 shape the hand should contain at least thirteen HCP.

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How strong is a weak two?

Five to nine points.

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Can I open a weak two on a five-card suit?

Yes.  This is a matter for partnership agreement.

Stick with a six-card suit in first and second seats in the first instance.

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Is there a minimum suit quality for a weak two?

Most partnerships will agree one.

The suit should be headed by at least KT or QJ, at least in first or second seats.

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Do I need an outside ace to open with a three-level bid?

No.  This would be the exception rather than the rule.

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Can a weak three-level opening bid contain an outside four-card major?

Not in first or second seats, but you might consider it in third.

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Can I open a weak three-level opening in fourth seat?

Why?


Bid weak hands over strong openings and strong hands over weak openings.


Treat the bid as strong if it guarantees at least fifteen HCP.

Treat the bid as weak if it guarantees a maximum of ten HCP.

Treat the bid as weak if it mixes weak and strong meanings.

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How strong should I be to overcall a weak opening bid?

At least a good opener.

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How strong can I be to make a minimum weak overcall in a suit?

Less than seventeen points, or seven playing tricks in a suit.

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How strong should I be to overcall a strong opening bid?

Less than opening values.


If an opponent’s bid is natural then a double is for take-out.

If their bid is artificial then a bid of their suit will be natural -  and a double will show length and strength in that suit or will have a specific conventional meaning.

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When is a loosely defined one-level bid treated as artificial?

When it does not promise at least three cards in the suit.

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What happens if they cannot define their bid clearly?

Treat it as natural.

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Should I always double a weak no trump with sixteen points?

Yes - some would say fifteen - and when you have slightly less together with a long suit.

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When should I overcall a weak no trump?

Whenever you hold a decent five-card suit, and near-opening values or better, in a hand unsuitable for a double.

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When should I overcall a strong no trump?

Up to intermediate level - DON’T.

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How balanced should I be to overcall in no trumps?

Down to a weak singleton with no decent long suit of your own.

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How strong should I be to overcall a multi-2?

Assume initially that it is a weak hand, so interfere with decent opening strength.


Setting a minor suit to the four-level or agreeing partner’s minor with a jump to the four-level is a slam try

(except in specific agreed situations)

This method is not universal, but it is common in expert circles.

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How strong is a take-out double?

From about eleven points with appropriate shape, or any hand of seventeen points (or seven playing tricks) or more.

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How strong should I be to open one of a suit in third seat?

You can reduce your strength by two or three points when not vulnerable.

The principle that

‘whatever you choose to open you should have a suitable rebid in mind facing partner’s lowest level change of suit’

overrides all other considerations in determining your best opening bid.

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What do I do when my partner starts with a weak bid and I hold a weak hand with a void in his suit and an eight-card suit of my own?

Pass.  Don’t start digging a deeper hole.

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Should I bid if partner opens a strong two and RHO interferes?

Only bid if the interference is at the four-level or higher.

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How strong is a transfer into a suit, followed by a new suit?

Game-forcing.


A double by a hand which opened 2NT (or an artificial 2NT sequence) is always for penalties.

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When partner opens one of a suit assume that he has a seven-loser hand.

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A 2 response to a 1 opener is usually four-card or longer, but might occasionally be only three-card.

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If the opponents double and I respond with a simple change of suit, is it forcing?

Yes.

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When RHO overcalls partner’s 1NT opening bid, is my double for penalties?

Take-out in principle, promising at least invitational values, and suggesting a shortage in the enemy suit.

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If partner changes suit opposite my third-seat opening is it forcing?

Many good players play it as non-forcing in this situation.

Only pass with a weakish opener and tolerance for partner’s suit.


When both opener and responder have shown extras the sequence becomes game-forcing.

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

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When one member of a partnership has overcalled naturally in no trumps then any subsequent double by either member of the partnership will be for penalties.

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Is advancer’s lowest-level change of suit forcing?

No.

Play it as natural, positive, and encouraging - but not forcing.

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When is a natural 2NT rebid by opener forcing?

Whenever responder’s response was a new suit at the two-level.

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How strong should I be to overcall in the protective seat?

At the risk of rather overstating the case, the minimum requirement for a one-level overcall in the protective seat is in the region of ‘thirteen cards’.