Standard American Bidding  (5-Card Major System)


Point Count:   Ace = 4 points     King = 3 points     Queen = 2 points     Jack = 1 pt.   There are 40 total points in the deck.

Suit Rank  (lowest to highest):   Minors:   Clubs    Diamonds    Majors:  Hearts    Spades     Notrump

A good trump suit:  A "fit" of 8 or more cards in one suit, combined in your two hands in any way (4-4, 5-3, 6-2, etc.). 

First choice:  A major (hearts or spades) if you have at least an 8-card fit. 

Second choice:  Notrump if you have balanced strength and no fit in a major suit. 

Third choice:  A minor (clubs or diamonds) if you have at least an 8-card fit and unbalanced strength.

Contract requirements -- What you and your partner need in your two hands to make these contracts:

Suit partscore (bid of 1, 2 or 3 in any suit) -- 18-24 points and at least an 8-card trump fit.

Notrump partscore (bid of 1NT or 2NT) -- 20-24 points and preferably no 8-card major-suit fit.

Major-suit game (4H, 4S) -- 25+ points and at least an 8-card fit. (Game and slam contracts pay a scoring bonus.)

Minor-suit game (5C,5D) -- 29+ points and at least an 8-card fit.

Notrump game (3NT) -- 25+ points and preferably no 8-card major-suit fit.

Small slam (any bid of 6) -- 33+ points

Grand slam (any bid of 7) -- 36+ points and all four aces.

These contract guidelines apply when you have relatively balanced hands. If you have a strong trump fit, long side suits and/or unusual distribution, you'll need fewer points to make these contracts.


Rules for Opener  (the first player to make a bid other than Pass)

Your first bidAlways open the bidding at the 1-level if you have at least 13 points You may open a hand of 11 or 12 points if you have a long suit, distributional strength and/or good quick tricks.
The meanings of your opening bids are:

1NT = Exactly 15-17 points and balanced distribution (at least 2-3 cards in every suit). Balanced distributions are 4-3-3-3,  4-4-3-2  and  5-3-3-2.

1H or 1S = 13-21 points and at least 5 cards in your suit.

1C or 1D = 13-21 points and at least 3 cards in your suit. Choose your longer minor. If you have two 3-card minors, open 1C to keep the bidding low.
This opening bid is called a convenient minor -- it tells partner you have opening point-count, but your hand doesn't meet the requirements for an opening bid of 1H, 1S or 1NT.

2NT = Exactly 20-22 points and balanced distribution.

2 of a suit = A very strong hand (21+ points) and a long suit (5+ cards). A modern, more popular alternative is to agree to play weak two-bids

3 of a suit = A weak hand (5-9 points) with a long, strong suit (6+ cards).

If you have two 5-card suits, open the higher-ranking suit, then rebid the lower-ranking suit (if you have 5 clubs and 5 diamonds, open 1D and bid clubs at your next turn). This allows partner to choose between your two suits without raising the level of the bidding.

Your second bid (called a rebid), A rebid is made after partner responds to your opening bid.

A new suit (1C-1H-1S) -- At least 4 cards in the suit, 13+ points.

Simple rebid of your first suit (1C-1H-2C) -- Extra length (usually a 6+ cards) and a minimum opener (13-15 points). To show a stronger hand with a long suit, you can jump-rebid your suit -- 1C-1H-3C.

Single raise of partner's suit (1C-1H-2H) -- 4 cards in the suit partner responded and a minimum opener (13-15 pts). To show a stronger hand with a fit for partner, you can jump-raise his suit -- 1C-1H-3H or 4H.

Notrump (1C-1H-1NT) -- A balanced minimum opener (13-14 points) WITHOUT 4 cards in partner's suit and without a new 4-card suit you could bid at the 1-level. To show a stronger balanced hand, you can open 1NT (with 16-18 or 15-17 points). To show a very strong balanced hand (19 points), open a suit bid and then jump in notrump -- 1C-1H-2NT.

As Opener, if you have fewer than 16 points, DON'T go to the 2-level unless:

1 - You're raising partner's suit (to confirm a trump fit (1D-1S-2S); or 

2 - You're rebidding your own extra-long suit  (1D-1S-2D); or

3 - You're showing a second suit (4 cards or longer) that is lower in rank than your first suit  (1D-1S-2C).


Rules for Responder (after your partner opens the bidding):

Respond to partner's opening bid if you have 6 points or more. 

If partner opens 1H or 1S and you have 3-card support -- Always raise to confirm the 8-card trump fit.

If partner opens 1C or 1D and you have a 4+-card major -- Always respond 1 of your major.
If you have two 4-card majors, respond the cheaper major to keep the bidding low.

If you have fewer than 10 points, DON'T go to the 2-level unless you're raising partner's suit (to confirm a trump fit) or rebidding your own extra-long suit.
With some unbalanced hands, you'll have to respond 1NT to keep the bidding low.

Your first response:

1 of a new suit (1C by partner - 1H by you) = At least 4 cards in your suit and at least 6 points.

2 of a new minor (non-jump) (1H-2D) = A 4+-card suit and at least 10-11 points.

2 of a new major (non-jump:  the auction 1S-2H) = A 5+-card suit and at least 10-11 points.

Single raise of partner's major (1S-2S) = At least 3 cards in partner's suit and 6-10 playing points To show a stronger hand with support, make a jump-raise -- 1S-3S or 1S-4S.

Single raise of partner's minor (1D-2D) = At least 4-5 cards in partner's suit, 6-10 points and no 4+-card major suit. To show a stronger hand with support, make a jump-raise -- 1D-3D.

Notrump (1S-1NT) = A weak hand (6-10 points) with no support for partner's suit and no suit you can bid at the 1-level. To show a stronger balanced hand, jump in notrump -- 1S-2NT or 1S-3NT.

Jump in a new suit (1S-3C) = A very strong hand (18-19+ points) and a long, strong suit. This is called a jump-shift.

As Opener OR Responder, you are showing your point-count range any time you:

1 - Open or rebid notrump -- 1C-1NT      1C-1S-1NT       1S-2H-2NT

2 - Raise partner's suit (to confirm that you have an 8-card fit) -- 1H-2H    1C-1H-2H    1C-1H-1S-2S

3 - Rebid your own long suit -- 1D-1S-2D    1H-1S-1NT-3S

The level you choose for these bids shows whether you have a minimum, invitational or forcing point-count range.


Rules for Overcaller  (after an opponent opens the bidding)

1-level suit overcall (1H-1S) = 10+ points with a good 5+-card suit.

2-level, non-jump suit overcall (1H-2D) = 12+ points with a strong suit

Jump overcall (1H-3C) = Weak hand (5-9 points) with a long, strong suit (6+ cards).

1NT (1H-1NT) = 15-17 points (some play 15-18) with balanced distribution and stoppers in the opponent's suit.

Double (1H-DBL) = 12+ points, shortness in the opponent's suit and at least 3-card support for all unbid suits. This is called a takeout double because it asks partner to take it out of the auction by bidding his longest suit.


Copyright    Karen Walker