Theory and Conventions

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M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

Opponents open at the three-level


First of all a reminder that any intervention over the enemy’s weak opening bid suggests a good hand - at least opening values.

With no more than a five-card suit it will be relatively rare that you make a suit overcall on less than fifteen points.


There is nothing original in this section:-


a new suit at the lowest level is natural and non-forcing (it might only be five-card);

a jump in a new suit is stronger and longer than a simple overcall;

3NT is to play;

opponent’s suit is a game-forcing two-suiter (see below).

A 7 5 3

A T 4

K Q 2

A 8 7

Opponents open 3 (weak).

Pass.

Partner must strive to make a take-out double in the fourth seat, which you will pass for penalties.  Your alternative is to bid 3NT, but I can only see four tricks.

A K J 5 3

T 4

K J 2

A 8 7

Opponents open 3 (weak).

Bid 3.

Of course it’s not cast-iron, but if you don’t find a bid on this the preemptor will always get the better of you.

5

A K J T 4

K Q J 9 2

A 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 showing a game-forcing two-suiter (but see below).

Partner will usually bid 5, after which 5 will put him fully in the picture.


Double


Double requires just a few more words.

It will be primarily for take-out in as much as it suggests a shortage in the opponents’ suit and a readiness to play in any of the other three.  However, it should normally contain some good defensive values as partner will not infrequently choose to convert it to penalties by passing.


Optional double


A few partnerships like to define their double as ‘optional’ at this point in the auction.

An optional double is a variety of take-out double which promises sufficient defence to be able to stand a penalty pass from partner if that is his choice.


It is not a term I like.  To my mind all varieties of take-out double are optional.  You are inviting partner to bid in any of the other three suits, or in no trumps, but he can always pass for penalties if he sees that as the most lucrative option.


But if you choose as a partnership to think of your doubles at this point in the proceedings as ‘optional’ then the mind-set might change just a little.  Perhaps the penalty pass will becomes just a little more likely, and it becomes correspondingly more important that the doubler’s hand should contain sound defensive values.

Intermediate and above

5

A K T 4

K Q J 2

A J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

A clear double, whether you regard it as ‘take-out’ or ‘optional.

I would still make a take-out double on this ideal shape with four points less.

Two-suited holdings


You can improve just a little on the cue-bid in the opponents’ suit to show a game-forcing two-suiter provided that you are prepared to sacrifice any other meaning for 4NT.  (You will be hard-pressed to find a better use for the bid in this context than the following).

If the opponents open three of a minor then four of their minor will promise both majors, and 4NT will promise the other minor and one of the majors; and if the opponents open three of a major then four of their major will promise the other major and a minor and 4NT will promise both minors (like an unusual no trump only strong).

5

T 4

A K Q J 2

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4NT to give partner a choice between the minor suits.

5

A K Q J 2

T 4

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 promising hearts and a minor (but see below).

A K J 9 8

A K Q J 2

T 4

5

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 promising both majors.

Beginner and above

Advancer’s next bid


Note the slight weakness in the above scheme that over 3 your cue-bid of 4 will drive a potential heart contract to the five-level.

You might like to modify your scheme just a little to cover this situation.

Or more simply bid a natural 4 at this point with a small prayer on at least a five-card suit, and save the two-suited bid for those hands on which you have a genuine slam interest.

5

A K Q J 2

T 4

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Either bid 4 promising hearts and a minor (as above),

or just bid a natural 4.