M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



 Responder root page

Partner’s bid is natural

Weak and preemptive

Partner’s bid will usually be weak and preemptive.

If it is in a major you will in general raise only in a competitive auction based on the principle of bidding to the level of the fit.

The mantra that the five-level belongs to the opponents is a sound generalisation in this respect, and such a bid would usually only be made when holding an exceptional fit for partner and at favourable vulnerability.

Beginner and above

7 4 3

8 5

K Q 4

A Q J 7 2

Partner opens 4♠.

You might have an eleven-card fit, but you also have significant defence against any five-level contract which they might bid.


J 8 6 3

7 4

Q T 4 2

T 6 3

Partner opens 4♠.

A superb fit but next to no defence.

Bid 5 at favourable vulnerability if the opponents compete to the five-level, and possibly even before they find their suit provide that you have agreed such a bid to be preemptive.

The exception to this is when partner opens a natural preemptive four of a minor.

I prefer to use such bids in a conventional manner as on the next page, but if they feature in your system then you should raise to the five-level either preemptively before your opponents find their major-suit contract, or occasionally with hopes of making the game contract whenever you have something of a fit - unless of course you have good defensive prospects in both majors.

7 4 3

8 5 2

Q 8 7 4

K T 9

Partner opens 4 (Weak and preemptive).

Think twice when vulnerable against not, but the rest of the time you will raise to 5 before stopping to draw breath.

Natural and strong

A rare use for an opening bid of four of a minor is as a strong natural slam-try.

I don’t love this bid, but if you have adopted it you had better know what to do next.

The basic rule is that a raise to five is your weakest option, suggesting little interest in higher things.

There are a number of options for your other bids.

You might for example use either 4NT, or possibly the next suit up (Redwood) as a key-card ask, but to be honest it is partner who should be doing the asking in this scenario.

The simplest solution is that any bid in a new suit should agree partner’s suit and show the cheapest control (Ace or King).

4NT might still be RKCB, but there is also something to be said for using it as a ‘How good are you?’ trial bid.

A variation on this approach would be to interchange two of these bids so that the next suit is the trial bid and 4NT shows the control in the next suit.

7 4 3

K 5 2

Q 8 7 4

K T 9

Partner opens 4 (natural slam-try).

Not much to write home about, but you have an excellent fit for clubs, and a control which you  can show below game level.

Bid 4.

Opener’s first bid

Context  -  Responder’s first bid - partner opened at the four-level.