M J Bridge
New suit at the lowest level
At the earliest stages there is something to be said for playing a lowest level suit overcall much the same as an opening bid, with the added requirement that it should be at least a five-
Q 9 6
A K J T 5
6 5 2
Opponents open 1♠.
Borderline in high-
A 9 6
K T 8 7 5
A 5 2
Opponents open 1♠.
You have two more points than in the previous hand, but your suit is just not worth mentioning at the two-
As soon as we are ready to move beyond the beginner method above we need to remember that our priorities have changed.
Certainly we will still wish to enter the fray when holding a strong hand on which there might be the possibility of a contract our way, but we must also bear in mind that we have other priorities. Our aims in this position now extend to disruption, the search for a sacrifice, and the indication of a defensive lead to partner.
Bearing these points in mind the first prerequisite for a simple overcall is a quality suit.
Some will maintain the requirement of near-
More common is to stretch the strength requirements considerably as the other aims are brought into the equation.
A typical minimum requirement might be six points and a SQUOT count (see below) of seven for an overcall at the one-
Note that guidelines such as this are not hard and fast.
Certainly vulnerability is a consideration. Be a little more reluctant to overcall when vulnerable unless holding extra length or extra values. In particular an overcall at the two-
And when not vulnerable you might be prepared to stretch the suit quality a little when holding something with greater overall strength,
but the guideline above is a good starting point until such time as you choose to come to your own partnership understanding on the matter.
SQUOT (SQOT) count
SQUOT stands for Suit QUality Overcall Test.
The quality of a suit is determined by adding the number of cards in the suit to the number of honours in that suit, only counting the J and/or 10 if a higher honour is held.
Thus AKJ75 has a Squot count of 8,
as does QT8742.
Either of these suits might justify a lowest level overcall at the two-
Too strong for a suit overcall
The guideline that hands of opening strength should double, and any other suit overcall will suggest a hand of less than opening strength is a thing of the past. The basic requirement for a double is now related to the shape of the hand as much as to the strength, but there are still hands based on a good suit which are just too good for a simple suit overcall.
With the appropriate strength, and usually a six-
The exact strength requirement for this route is a matter for partnership agreement.
Many partnerships play that the suit overcall might show anything up to sixteen points, and with seventeen or more points (or a seven-
Agree whichever cut-
This page last revised 25th Nov 2017
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