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M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions

Bidding

Hands

Partner opened at the three-level


You must assume that the suit has been set.


We have entered a much-neglected area of bidding theory, but it is a situation which occurs with some frequency.

You will be well-advised to come to a few agreements regarding this situation - however simple they may be.


There are four basic choices - either you pass, you raise, you bid a new suit, or you bid 3NT.

There is however just a little more to consider than that.

The raise to game can be made on three card support and zero points (taking vulnerability into account) - this would be a purely preemptive manoeuvre;

equally it can be made on a good hand when you have every hope of making the contract.  This could contain as little as two-card support;

3NT is sometimes an option.  This is particularly attractive when partner opened in a minor suit.  You should have some support to give you hopes of a running suit and a likely entry.  Three cards to one of the top three honours would be excellent.  Do not run to 3NT just because you have a void or a singleton in your partner’s suit - you may never get to his hand to make those tricks.


The meaning of a bid in a new suit is the main point of discussion;

The simplest agreement is that it is natural (at least five-cards) and forcing, offering a genuine alternative contract, and I will go along with this interpretation.  As it is forcing it might of course on occasion disguise some other strong meaning. However, my usual fall-back agreement that it is likely to show a no trump stop if partner opened in a minor does not apply in this case.  At its simplest, if he has a genuine stop in a side-suit then he probably shouldn’t have opened with a preemptive bid in the first place.

T 8

T 8 7 4

Q 8 5 4

J 7 5

Partner opens 3.

Bid 4.  If you play 5 as preemptive (I don’t) then make this bid non-vulnerable on the eleven-card fit.  The opposition have at least a game their way, and your job is to make them guess.

T 8

K 8 7 4

A K 5 3

A 8 5

Partner opens 3.

Bid 4.  This time you have every intention of making.  Partner is likely to be about three tricks short for his preemptive opening and you are offering four.  6 + 4 = 10.  End of discussion.

T 8

A K 5

K 8 7 4

A K 5 3

Partner opens 3.

Either bid 5 (my choice),

or bid 3NT and pray that your opponents don’t find a spade lead.

T 8

A K J T 8 6 5

K 8

A 3

Partner opens 3.

Bid 3 (forcing).

When you repeat hearts partner will be able to place you with at least a good six-card heart suit.

Partner opens 3.

Bid 4. If you like making up auctions you could try 4, but be prepared for partner to raise to 5 before you revert to hearts.  Such a sequence would show your heart support and a diamond feature in a good hand, but it feels a bit high doesn’t it?

T 8

K 8 7 4

A K 5 3

A K 5


The opponents intervened


They overcalled in a suit


A raise of partner’s suit shows trumps - strength is quite wide-ranging;

double - cannot be for take-out as the suit has been set.  Play it for penalties.

K Q 7 4

4

A K 6 5

A K 5 3

Partner opens 3 and the opponents overcall 3.

Double.  Double is for penalties.  You hope to take at least three minor suit tricks along with two trumps behind the overcall on your right.

3NT is tempting, but doomed if partner’s hearts don’t run.  4 is also possible.

A 8

A Q 5

A K 5 3

K 8 7 4

Partner opens 3 and the opponents overcall 3.

Bid 5.

There are other bids available to show the strength of this hand.  More about them in due course.


They doubled


As you would expect:-

a raise to game can either show additional preemptive value, or be a realistic shot at the contract;

a bid of a new suit is forcing, and is in principle a natural suit bid offering an alternative contract.

T 8

J 5

Q T 8 5 3 2

8 7 4

Partner opens 3 and the opponents double.

Bid 5.

They must have at least a game in a major suit.  Pile on the pressure at once.

Partner opens 3 and the opponents double.

Bid 3 intending to revert to hearts - unless you are one of those red-blooded types who prefers 4.  You are always bidding to at least 4.

Get in the way of their spades, and suggest a control if partner is considering buying the contract.


Q 8 3

Q T 8 5 3 2

J 8 7 4

Beginner and above

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Context  -  Responder’s first bid.