Theory and Conventions

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M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

Opponents opened 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 on this page:-


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);

double is for take-out, and over three of a major it should promise four cards in the other major (again, 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 4

K Q J 2

A T 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Double, promising four hearts in a good hand, and prepared to stand a response in anything except spades.


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


The basic idea as given above (that a cue-bid of opener’s three-level opening bid is game-forcing with at least 5-5 shape) is more or less universal.


However, it does not take much imagination or additional memory work to add considerably greater precision to the concept.


Opponents opened three of a minor


The cue-bid should promise a major two-suiter.


If the opponents open three of a minor then four of their minor will promise both majors.

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

This page last revised 18th Sept 2018


Opponents opened three of a major


Method 1


Simplest is for the cue-bid to promise 5-5 shape in any two suits.

A K J 9 8

T 4

A K Q J 2

5

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Either bid 4NT promising diamonds and a major,

or just bid 3.

My choice is 3.

J T 5

A K J 4

K Q 9 2

A 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Double, promising a good hand with no more than two clubs, and prepared to stand a response in any of the other suits.

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).

In the simplest implementation partner will usually bid 5, after which 5 will put him fully in the picture.


A possible extension of the idea is that a bid of 4NT will promise the other minor and one of the majors.


This is a good idea up to a point, but it inevitably takes a major suit contract to the five-level.  You may well prefer just to bid your five-card major and hide your second suit unless your hand is potentially of slam-going strength.

5

A K J T 4

K Q J 9 2

A 8

We have already met this example above.

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 showing a game-forcing two-suiter.

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


Better - but still not best - is for the cue-bid to promise 5-5 shape in the other major and an unspecified minor.

A K Q J 2

5

T 4

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 promising spades and an unspecified minor (but see below).


Method 2


The method above is straightforward and effective as far as it goes, but the unspecified minor suit is a weakness, and over 3 a heart contract will be forced to the five-level.


Much better is to play 4 and 4 as ‘non-leaping Michael’s’.  (c.f. Leaping Michael’s.)

With this agreement the bid of the minor suit at the four-level will promise 5-5 shape in the bid minor and the other major.

A K Q J 2

5

T 4

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4 (non-leaping Michael’s) promising spades and clubs.

Partner now has a clear picture of your hand, and you can reach a game contract in either suit at the lowest level.


4NT


A bid of 4NT over three of a major can be used to show 5-5 in the minors - like an unusual no trump only strong.

If you have adopted non-leaping Michaels then you might prefer to use the immediate cue-bid to give the same message slightly more cheaply.

5

T 4

A K Q J 2

A K J 9 8

RHO opens 3 (weak).

Bid 4NT or 4 (whichever you have agreed) to give partner a choice between the minor suits.