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M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions

Bidding

Hands

Extended wriggles


There are a number of wriggle agreements, mostly built around the basic wriggle.

Named variations on the theme include Halmic and Helvic (below).


Common features


All methods which come into the category considered on this page include a redouble to promise a five-card suit and a forcing pass.

As in the basic wriggle, the redouble demands 2 from opener following which responder will pass or bid his five-card suit to play,

and the forcing pass will demand a redouble from opener after which responder will either pass (with values) or make a suit bid as the start of some kind of escape manoeuvre.


In each case the immediate response in a suit remains to be defined as does the suit bid following an initial pass.  It is only in the allocation of these suit bids that the methods differ.


The theory


With hands containing a five-card or longer suit already catered for we are left with those hands which contain at least two four-card suits, and the four 4-3-3-3 hands.  4-4-4-1 hands are considered alongside the 4-4-3-2 hands in these methods - you can decide which two suits you wish to show.

There are therefore six two-suited combinations to cater for as well as the 4-3-3-3 shape.

At first sight there may appear to be eight bids or sequences available to show these hand-shapes - four immediate suit bids, and a forcing pass followed by the same four suit bids.  However, as the main object of the exercise is to find some sort of fit at the two-level on a weak hand, we can discount the immediate and the delayed 2 bids, both of which potentially invite a preference at the three-level in the second suit.  Similarly the two sequences involving 2 can only show the one hand in hearts and spades at the two-level.

There are therefore, realistically, only five distinct sequences available to show the hand-types enumerated above.


After a brief look at the ways in which different conventions allocate seven hand-types to five bidding sequences I shall look briefly at ways in which you might wish to utilise the sequences which I have discounted above.


Halmic (occasionally referred to as Helmic)


I have no knowledge either of the origin of this convention, nor of where it got its name from.


As stated above, a redouble will demand 2 from partner and will be the start of an escape into a five-card suit at the two-level,

and a pass will be forcing, demanding a redouble from partner which might on occasion be left to play.


The distinctive feature of this method is that all 4-3-3-3 hands are dealt with by making a forcing pass and following it with a bid of 2. Partner will then either pass with four clubs or bid any four-card suit - at least a 4-3 fit is ensured.

Intermediate and above

A 7 6 2

T 8 3

Q 8 7

7 6 4

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Pass.

Partner will redouble and you will bid 2 promising a 4-3-3-3 shape.

Partner will then either pass with four clubs, or bid any four-card suit.


This leaves the six two-suited combinations.


An immediate response of 2 will promise 4-4 shape in clubs and a higher-ranking suit.

Opener will then pass with three or more clubs and bid 2 when holding only a doubleton club after which you will either pass or bid your second four-card suit.  Provided that opener did not start with two doubletons this will ensure at least a 4-3 fit, although it might not necessarily be your best fit.

8 3

A 7 6 2

Q 8 7

T 7 6 4

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2 promising 4-4 shape in clubs and another suit.

Partner will pass with three-card support.

With only a doubleton club he should bid 2 and you will rebid 2 to ensure at least a 4-3 fit.

8 4 3

A 7 6 2

T 7 6

Q 8 7

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2, in principle showing diamonds and hearts.

With a doubleton diamond, or three diamonds and three hearts partner will correct to 2.  Only when you are 4-3-3-3 and partner holds three of the bid suit and two of the next suit will you be in any difficulty.

8 3

Q 8 7

T 7 6 4

A 7 6 2

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2 promising 4-4 shape in clubs and diamonds.

Partner will either pass or correct to diamonds.

8 3

T 7 6 4

Q 8 7

A 7 6 2

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Pass, then bid 2 over partner’s forced redouble, promising 4-4 in clubs and hearts.

Partner will either pass or correct to hearts.


Of the choices above I have a slight preference for Halmic which seems to me to cover the widest set of options efficiently.


2 and 2NT


In all the methods above both the immediate and the delayed bids of 2 and 2NT are ignored.

2 can be played in a natural and preemptive manner or as a weak escape with spades and clubs, but if your first wish is for your opponents to bid again and save you from your misery such bids simply invites a further penalty double  They are not particularly recommended.


Clearly these bids are being made on weakish hands which you will not be afraid to declare at the three-level.  They must therefore promise something by way of shape, and will probably only be deployed at favourable vulnerability.


The only problem with the method as outlined above is that a bid of 2 invites a preference to clubs at the three-level.


To avoid this many partnerships play that an immediate 2 promises either clubs and diamonds or clubs and spades.

Opener will then pass when holding three clubs and bid 2 otherwise.  This will always locate at least a 4-3 fit provided that opener did not start with two doubletons.


Note that the 2 bid is not utilised either directly or in a delayed sequence.

Most partnerships will just carry on without it, but a possible application is given at the bottom of the page.

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Context  -  Partner opened 1NT - RHO doubled (natural)

This page last revised 4th Apr 2018

8 3

A 7 6 2

T 7 6 4

Q 8 7

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2 promising 4-4 shape in diamonds and hearts in a weak hand.


Each of the other three suits may be bid either directly, or the slow way starting with a forcing pass.


Various allocations are possible.

The most common implementation is that bids of 2 and 2 each promise the bid suit and the next higher suit, and a delayed 2 promises diamonds and spades.  Partner will then have a simple choice between two suits.

A 7 6 2

8 3

T 7 6 4

Q 8 7

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Pass first.

Partner will redouble (forced), then you will rebid 2 promising 4-4 shape in diamonds and spades in a weak hand.

A local variation


Quite common around where I play is a slightly different allocation, as follows:-

An immediate suit bid promises the suit bid and spades.  A delayed suit bid can then be used to pick up the missing combinations.

Thus, a pass followed by a bid of 2 would promise clubs and a red suit, and a pass followed by a bid of 2 would show specifically diamonds and hearts.  This is neither theoretically better nor worse than the convention above.  It is, though, easy to remember.


The 4-3-3-3 shape


Both of the last two methods overlook the 4-3-3-3 shape in their basic formulation.

There are two solutions.

The simple solution, though not my choice, is to bid it as if the four-card suit is in fact a five-card suit.  This will work out over half the time, but on just over one in four occasions you will find yourself playing in a 4-2 fit.

The alternative is to bid it as 4-4 in the four-card suit and the suit below.  In this method, partner should always correct when three-three in the bid suit and the next suit up.  This works well alongside the basic Helvic method of adjacent suits.

T 7 6 4

8 3

Q 8 7

A 7 6 2

Partner opened 1NT and RHO doubled.

Bid 2.

Partner will pass with three clubs or bid 2.  Over 2 you will rebid 2 to ensure at least a 4-3 fit.

Advanced

Personally, I feel that these add-ons really aren’t worth the time and effort, but if you wish to add a vestige of completeness to your armoury then the following two bids are to be found from an author (initials AVH) on the Bridge Guys web-site.


2 shows a hand of (say) eight to ten points, and at least 5-5 in the majors.

2NT shows a hand of (say) eight to ten points with a five-card minor and a five-card major.  With only one three-card major opener will bid 3, which you might correct to 3 - with two three-card majors opener will bid 3 and you will choose your major.


You can go a long way without an extended wriggle, but if playing teams at an intermediate level or higher with a weak no trump then there is much to be said for adopting either one of the variations on this page, or exit transfers.

Helvic


In this convention the emphasis lies in showing the two-suited hand shapes with greater precision.  I shall consider the 4-3-3-3 shape shortly but it will be something of a ‘best I can do with what’s left’ solution.


In its original form any suit bid by responder promised that suit plus the next suit up.

The forcing pass followed by a suit bid would then be available to show the non-adjacent suits, so a pass followed by 2 would show clubs and hearts, and a pass followed by 2 would show diamonds and spades.  An immediate 2 would show spades and clubs.

Each bid therefore showed a precise two suits, and partner’s task was then straightforward.

Opener’s rebid