Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge




So what are your main aims when overcalling?

Rather than answer that question immediately I would like to put a thought into your mind.

Before you look at your cards, or anyone makes a bid, there is an equal chance that the deal belongs to either side.

But as soon as your opponents open the bidding with anything other than a weak bid (or a multi with weak options) the odds shift.  It becomes likely that the deal will belong to them rather than to you.

Furthermore, even if the deal does belong to your side, it is less likely that there will be a game contract available to your side.  The chances are that you will be squabbling over a part-score.

Of course, there will be occasions when there is a significant contract your way.  You must incorporate bids into your method which allow you to identify these occasions, and to move constructively towards that contract, but your other aims become at least as important if only because of their greater frequency.

These other aims are:-

you want to indicate a possible lead in defence to your partner;

you want to interfere with your opponents’ auction as much as is safely possible;

you want to start the search for a profitable sacrifice when you hold a weak hand with a lot of shape.

Only then do we consider the traditional aims:-

you want to bid accurately to the best contract when the deal rightfully belongs to your side;

you want to judge accurately how far to compete when in a genuinely contested auction, and when to pass or make a penalty double.

Note that competing just because you hold an opening hand is not in the list of objectives above,

although possession of opening values may well be a significant factor in believing that the deal might belong to your side.

With the above aims in mind it will be rare in the extreme that your overcall in a suit will be less than five cards in length.

Indeed, if you hold a balanced hand (4-4-3-2 or 4-3-3-3) of, say, thirteen or fourteen points, which is unsuitable for a take-out double, then your best (only) action will be to pass.  You are holding a hand with tremendous defensive potential -

sit back, defend, and enjoy.

For a look at various considerations and principles when overcalling follow this link.

Alternatively return to the page ‘overcalling’ and follow the links according to your opponents’ specific opening bid.

Beginner and above

This page last revised 1st Mar 2019

Context - overcaller.