Theory and Conventions

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M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

A K 8 7 4

Q 8 4

Q J T 2

9

Twelve perfectly respectable points in a 5-4 shape.

Open 1.

If partner responds 1NT or 2 you will rebid 2.

If partner responds 2 you will raise to 3.

K J T 6 3

Q 8 4

A 9 8 6 3

Ten points in a 5-5 hand.

Open 1, intending to rebid 2 over 1NT or 2, or to raise a response of 2.

If partner responds 2 you will raise his suit.


Exceptions


On occasion you will deviate from the simple rules above.


Raising partner’s suit


One such possibility will be when partner’s response brings to light a primary fit.

Usually this will be when his response of 2 over your opening 1 reveals a 5-3 fit.  On such occasions you will of course raise partner in the known fit.

K Q 9 7 3

K Q 8 6 5 3

5

8

Ten points in a 6-5 shape.

If you open 1 you could get to push the bidding to a high level on very little.

There is a lot to be said for opening 1, and rebidding in hearts.

7

K Q T 8 6 3

A 9 8 7 3

4

Nine points in a 6-5 shape, and the points are well-placed in the long suits.

Open 1 and rebid 2.

You will not have shown your sixth heart or your fifth diamond, but most importantly partner knows that you have at least five hearts.

7

K Q T 8 3

A 9 8 7 6 3

4

Nine points in a 6-5 shape, and the points are well-placed in the long suits.

The simple rule-following method is to open 1 and rebid in hearts.

I much prefer to open 1 and rebid 2, which will not push the bidding too high on very few high-card points and also shows partner your five-card heart suit.

4

7

K Q T 8 3

A 9 8 7 6 3

Nine points in a 6-5 shape, and the points are well-placed in the long suits.

The importance of showing your five-card holding in the higher-ranking suit is not so great in a minor.

Still, I would open 1 and rebid in clubs, thereby maximising the chances of finding a fit with partner.


Clubs and Spades


These two suits are sometimes considered to be adjacent as clubs come next after spades in the cyclic ordering of the suits.  On that basis you would open 1 on such a 5-5 holding, and a rebid of 1 will always be available after a simple change of suit response.  This was the traditional guidance on the matter.


Bearing in mind the importance of showing your five-card major modern guidance is to open 1.  Your rebid in clubs will promise at least five spades and four clubs.

K Q J 8 3

7

8 4

A K Q 6 3

Fifteen points in a 5-5 hand with the points well-placed in the long suits.

Open 1 and rebid 3 (one-round force) over a red-suit response.


6-5 shape


Holding 6-5 shape you will not always get the opportunity to show the fifth card in the second suit, let alone the sixth card in the first suit.

When the six-card suit is higher ranking you will open it and rebid in the five-card suit as above.  At least you will have shown the five-card holding in the higher-ranking suit.


When the six-card suit is the lower-ranking you have a choice.

Playing non-strong reverses you can open the six-card suit and reverse into the higher-ranking five-card suit without promising additional strength.

However It will frequently still be the correct action on a weakish hand to open with the higher-ranking five-card suit.  This is particularly the case if the higher-ranking suit is a major and the lower-ranking suit is a minor.  When you rebid in your second suit you will at least have promised a five-card holding in the major.


Of course, with sixteen or more points I would open the lower-ranking six-card suit and reverse into the five-card suit, thereby showing the longer lower suit.

4

7

A K Q 8 3

A K 9 7 6 3

Sixteen points in a 6-5 shape, and the points are well-placed in the long suits.

Open 1 and reverse with 2 over a response in either major.

Partner will only pass your ‘non-strong’ reverse with a complete minimum.  Over any other bid from partner you will rebid your diamonds to show your strength and shape.


You might even choose to use the ploy of opening the lower suit on a minimum 5-5 hand when the higher-ranking suit is totally lacking in quality, particularly if vulnerable.

J T 8 6 3

Q 4

7

A K 9 6 3

The natural sequence is to open 1 and then to rebid 3 over a red-suit response.

When vulnerable I would consider hiding my fifth spade and opening with 1.

K T 7 6 4

K 8

K J 6 2

A K

Seventeen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape with points in the short suits.

Open 1.

Certainly you have the shape to reverse into 3 over a 2 response,

but you might feel that this holding is better served by a response of 2NT over either a club or a heart response.

K T 7 6 4

K 8

K J 6 2

K 7

Thirteen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape with points in the short suits.

You could open 1 and rebid in diamonds.

Alternatively pretend that your hand is balanced and open 1NT.

K J

A 8

K Q 8 3

T 8 6 4 3

Twelve points and 5-4-2-2 shape.

The prospect of opening 1 and reversing into diamonds at the three-level is not attractive.

My opening bid of 1NT was the key to our score of 79% on this deal on an ordinary club night.


Opening 1NT


With twelve to fourteen points in a 5-4-2-2 hands, and most of the points in the short suits you will sometimes be able to avoid the problem by opening an off-shape 1NT.


You might even extend this principle to some stronger hands.


Failing any of these you might have to rethink your policy of opening on minimum points.

T 8 7 6 4

J 5

A K T 6

K 7

Eleven points in a 5-4 hand if you count the doubleton Jack at full value.

Usually I will open an eleven point hand with 5-4 shape, but I would rather pass on this hand rather than open 1 and risk having to find a rebid over a 2 response.


Playing ‘non-strong reverses’ makes many rebids become easier, but a ‘weak reverse’ remains something to avoid if there is a better option available.  Raising partner’s suit, opening the higher-ranking suit when 6-5, and opening 1NT, as discussed above, are all ways of avoiding the problem.


Rebidding a six-card suit


Another stratagem on a weak hand is to rebid a six-card suit rather than reverse into a second suit.  You won’t actually be lying - just withholding a little information.

7

A K Q T 6 3

9 8 7 4 3

4

Nine points in a 6-5 shape.

Open 1.

Nobody is going to blame you for opening this hand on just nine points, but there is much to be said for rebidding the hearts rather than introducing the diamonds.


‘Looks like a six-card suit’


An extension of this principle is to lie - just a little.


Playing a ‘non-strong reverse’ a rebid of his first suit by opener should promise a six-card suit - that is one of the main advantages of the system.  With such a promise responder can raise the suit with as little as two-card support.

Bearing this possibility in mind, opener with a weak hand on which he does not wish to risk forcing the bidding to the three-level might rebid a five-card suit if he is prepared to play in a 5-2 fit.  Partner will read you for a six-card suit, and might raise abruptly to the four-level, but with the opponents’ suit likely to split 4-2 this might not be the end of the world.


As a guideline opener’s five-card suit should ‘look like a six-card suit’.  Typically it will contain four of the five honours to ensure trump control.

This page last revised 7th Sept 2017

K Q J 7 4

8 5

A K J 6

K 8

Seventeen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape with points well-placed in the long suits.

Open 1.

Rebid 2 over a response of 1NT or 2, and

rebid 3 (one-round force) over a 2 response.

K J T 9 3

7

A Q 8 6 3

8 4

Ten points in a 5-5 hand with the points well-placed in the long suits.

Open 1 and rebid in diamonds.

A K Q 7 4

8 4

Q J T 2

9 6

Twelve good points in a 5-4 shape.

Open 1 and rebid in diamonds.

K Q T 8 3

A Q 4 2

5

8 7 4

Eleven good points in a 5-4 shape.

Open 1, and rebid 2.

Q J T 8 3

A

A K Q 6 3

8 4

Sixteen points in a 5-5 hand.

Open 1.

Rebid 2 over a response of 1NT or 2, and

rebid 3 (one-round force) over a 2 response.

The ‘non-strong’ reverse


(or ‘weak reverse’ or ‘shape-showing reverse’)


In the method discussed on this page you will have a partnership agreement that a rebid in a new suit by opener will be shape-showing. If it is a reverse bid it will not necessarily promise the strength traditionally associated with such a bid.


Possible alternative agreements are the strong reverse and the modified strong reverse.


A reverse bid in the present context is a rebid in a new suit by opener higher than two of his first suit.  (There is a fuller discussion of the context on the page ‘reverse bidding’.)


The strong reverse is the traditional standard agreement and is still the norm in most club and tournament play.

The non-strong reverse on this page is a more straightforward method and is recommended as a beginning method, but you will probably wish to move on to one of the others as you approach an intermediate level.


Playing a non-strong reverse you will open most 5-4 hands with one of your five-card suit and rebid in your four-card suit over any change of suit response, with or without additional strength.


The big bonus is that if this method is allied with an agreement that all 5-3-3-2 hands in the agreed range are opened with 1NT then a rebid of his first suit by opener will always promise a six-card suit.

The price you pay is that you will sometimes find yourself in a three-level contract on a pair of misfit hands and a combined total of twenty points or less.


To repeat, if opener’s rebid in a new suit is at a higher level than two of his first suit then it will promise at least 5-4 shape in the two suits, but the strength of the hand might lie anywhere in a range of eleven to eighteen points, or thereabouts.


Strength


With five-five shape you will be prepared to open on as few as nine points (rule of nineteen) provided that your high cards are ‘working well’ - i.e. in the long suits.

With five-four shape you will normally open with eleven points (rule of twenty), again with the proviso that your high cards are working well.


Either of these generalisations might be refined taking into account such factors as vulnerability and position at the table.


On the 5-5 hands you will normally open the higher-ranking suit and rebid in the second.

With 5-4 shape you will normally open the longer suit and rebid in the second.

In both cases you will have promised at least five cards in the first bid suit and at least four cards in the second.


Opener’s rebid in a new suit should be played as ‘all but forcing’ facing a response at the one-level.  Partner will only pass with six or a miserable seven points.

If responder’s first bid was at the two-level then the auction should be played as forcing for one round.

Context  -  The opening bid - reverse bidding.

Beginner and above

K 7 4 3

A K Q T 3

4

8 7 6

Twelve points in a 5-4 shape.

Open 1.

You will raise 1 to 2 (or even 3), and you will certainly be entitled to reverse into 2 over a minor suit response,

but there is much to be said for rebidding your hearts over either 2 or 2.