M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



Beginner and above

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Context  -  Responder’s first bid - partner opened one major in first or second seat - no intervention.

You have three-card support

The assumption in this page is that you have exactly three-card support for partner’s major.

Weak hands

In the present context a weak hand is a hand which does not qualify for a change of suit at the two-level - in other words it does not satisfy the ‘rule of fourteen’.  Usually this will be a hand of five to eight, or a rather shapeless nine, points.

An earlier standard specified a lower limit of six points, but the five-point minimum is now moving towards becoming commonplace.

With less than five points you will usually pass.  You will be far less inclined to stretch the strength down below this than when you had a known 4-4 fit.

It is with five to a poor nine points that a decision might have to be made.

Your first priority should be to make a natural and forcing change of suit.  If you have a choice of suits it will usually be right to choose the ‘cheapest’, thereby leaving partner the maximum bidding space in which to show his hand.  There is a fuller discussion of this consideration under ‘you have less than three-card support’.

If no such change of suit is available then you will have to choose between 1NT, and a raise to two of partner’s suit based on what might be no better than a 4-3 fit.

As a general rule, two of the major will tend to play better than 1NT on a weak hand.

Bearing this in mind you will normally raise to the two-level with three-card support and five to nine points.

Only on a completely flat hand (4-3-3-3) will you prefer the 1NT option.

Note that both a raise to two of partner’s suit on three-card support and a response of 1NT deny a four-card major which can be bid at the one-level.

On a stronger hand

In the present context a stronger hand is one which is good enough for a change of suit at the two-level.

My guideline for this is ‘rule of fourteen’ - which generally boils down to ten points and a four-card suit or nine points and a decent five-card suit.

You will be planning to keep the bidding open to 2NT or three of a suit on 10 or 11 points (or some similar measure of invitational strength), and to at least 3NT or four of a suit with 12 or more points (some miserable twelve point hands might only justify pushing to 2NT.)

However, on stronger hands when holding three-card support it will almost always be correct to make a forcing bid in a new suit in the first instance whilst waiting to determine the best denomination for your final contract.

There is a fuller discussion of what is required for a forcing bid and which suit to choose on the page ‘less than three-card’ support, but for the moment, any simple change of suit will be forcing for at least one round.

Following your change of suit partner will make his prepared rebid after which you will usually show your three-card support with your next bid.

8 5

Q 9 4

A J T 5 2

8 6 4

Partner opened 1.

You have three hearts and seven points.  With a couple more points you would bid 2.

The black suits do not favour a bid of 1NT.

Bid 2.

J 8 5

Q 9 4

A T 5 2

8 6 4

Partner opened 1.

You have three hearts and seven points in a flat hand.

Bid 1NT.

A J 8 5

Q 9 4

T 5

8 6 4 2

Partner opened 1.

You have three-card support, but do not even dream of bidding 2 or 1NT.  You must show your four-card spade suit.

Bid 1.

7 5

Q 9 4

8 7 5 2

A 6 5 4

Partner opened 1.

A run-of the-mill minimum responding hand with three-card support.

In the absence of anything better bid 2.

This page last revised 8th Oct 2018

7 5

Q 9 4

Q 7 5 2

A K 5 4

Partner opened 1.   You have three-card support and invitational values.

Perhaps there is a game and perhaps there isn’t - your best contract might be in hearts or it might be in no trumps.

Never mind for now - bid 2, natural and forcing.

In most continuations you will rebid 3 to show your eleven points and three-card support.