M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



 Responder root page


I shall assume in the following that partner has opened either 4  or 4, setting the suit as hearts or spades respectively.

Partner’s hand is strongish.

I shall further assume that partner’s bid is of the closely defined variety - that is, it is either based on a solid suit with next to nothing outside, or a solidish suit missing just one of the top two honours together with little more than an Ace or King outside.

The suggested continuations will not differ much if partner’s bid is defined a little more broadly.

As is frequently the case I referred to a number of sources before writing this page.

It goes almost without saying that no two give exactly the same scheme of responses.

I shall give the scheme which appeals to me most at the bottom of the page, but first I shall talk around the subject for a moment or two.

Signing off

More often than not you will finish in four of partner’s major.

You must decide whether the best way to do this is just to bid his suit or whether you would prefer to use the intermediate bid as a transfer.  Usually there is much to be said for transferring the play into the stronger hand, but this situation is different.  Partner’s hand is already known to your opponents and it is not a hand-type which will usually gain from having the lead coming up to it.  There is much to be said for placing the play in responder’s hand.

A further option is to retain both facilities so that responder can make a choice as to which partner should be declarer.

My choice will be to sign off by bidding partner’s suit, and to use all of the other options as a means of searching for a possible slam.

J 8 3

7 4

Q J 5 4 2

T 6 3

Partner opens 4♣.

You would like to finish in about 2, but that is no longer an option.

Bid 4, if you play this as a weak shut-out.

Slam tries

A similar consideration applies when considering how to use the available bids in search of a slam.

Usually when trying for a slam it will be the stronger hand which is in charge of the auction as it tries to locate specific controls.

With his hand so tightly defined there is an argument for responder to take control of this auction, but with the likelihood of shortage or even voids in one or two suits there is also a strong argument for opener to be in charge so that he can match partner’s controls with his own shortages.

I don’t have a strong view on this, except that if the choice is for responder to do the asking then he should have the tools available to search for singletons and voids as well as for aces and kings.

So, what’s on offer?

My first offering is taken from the bridge guys site.

Four of the implied suit is a sign-off;

four of the intermediate bid will be played either as a transfer, or as a relay asking partner to name any suit containing two or more losers, by partnership agreement;

4NT is Blackwood.  Whether or not you prefer to use RKCB in this particular context is up to you as a partnership;

There is no mention of four of any other suit in this source, and so they are yours to use in whatever way you choose to agree.

A variation is based on the methods of Romex Namyats.

In this one the intermediate bid is used as a key-card ask.

Depending on how prescriptive your requirements for the opening bid might be it is possible to tailor the responses to this bid to show extremely precise information.

My preferred method is based on Ron Klinger’s writings.

Four of the implied suit is a sign-off;

4NT is Blackwood or RKCB according to partnership agreement;

four of a new suit (other than the implied suit) asks for controls in that suit.  In response opener will show any one of ace, king, void or singleton as shown in the section on opener’s rebid.

8 5 4

7 6 4


A K J 7 5

Partner opens 4♣.

Partner is worth about eight playing tricks and has set the suit as hearts.

Slam looks likely provided that there are not two quick losers in spades.

Bid 4, asking for controls in that suit.

Opener’s rebid

Opener’s first bid

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

Intermediate and above