The 12 Habits of Highly Effective Bidders  (February 2007)

6. They make the bids partner wants to hear. (Part 2)

Opener's rebid is often the most critical bid in a bridge auction. If you've opened one of a suit, your rebid is your first opportunity to narrow your point range and clarify the nature of your hand. Ideally, you'd like to provide information that will put responder in charge, which is his natural role, since he usually knows more about your hand than you do about his.

In general, partner will have the easiest decisions when you make natural rebids that limit your strength. These include notrump bids, raises of partner's suit and rebids of your own long suit. The earlier you can make one of these "telling" bids, the simpler your auction.

The rebids that are most problematic -- and tend to create the longest auctions -- are those that ask partner to continue describing his hand. They include:

Reverse rebids

Jump shifts

"Could-be-short" rebids: 1H - 1NT (forcing) - 2C

Other new-suit bids: 1D - 1H - 1S or 2C

All these rebids are valuable, often necessary, for showing certain hand types. It's important to remember, though, that the real purpose of bidding is not to describe your hand; it's to get to the best final contract. To help responder make that decision, the best bidders -- and best partners -- think twice about the need for the "asking" bids and go with the simpler "telling" bids whenever possible.

Watchwords for opener

Support with support

You open 1D and partner responds 1H: 
    AK5  KJ7  K96542  4 -- Bid 2H. A raise is first on partner's wish list for your rebid. Even if partner has only a four hearts, this is a fine dummy for a heart partscore or game, so send that message now. If partner is considering a game try, you'd like to cooperate, and a raise is more likely to encourage him than a rebid of your weak diamond suit.

    KQ87 AJ103  AQ84 -- Scientists might try a "picture bid" of 3C, hoping they can show a monster supporting hand when they next bid 4H. That plan will be scuttled, though, if partner rebids 3H or raises clubs. A direct raise to 4H -- or even a 3S splinter, if you're not fanatic about the never-with-a-stiff-honor "rule" -- won't be misunderstood. Although a singleton king isn't ideal for a splinter, 3S isn't really a misrepresentation here, as it gives partner an immediate picture of your distribution, overall strength and, most important, your heart support.

Bid notrump with notrump hands

You open 1C and partner responds 1D:  AQ9  K6  J852  QJ104
     Bid 1NT. The exception to the "support with support" advice is when your fit is a minor. If partner has game aspirations, he'll usually be more interested in 3NT than 5D. 1NT shows your hand's suitability for the most likely game and tends to slow partner down if he has marginal game-try values. If you instead raise to 2D, partner will fear major-suit weakness in your hand and may have a much harder time trying to determine if 3NT is a feasible contract.

You open 1C and partner responds 1S:   Q4  KJ93 A10  AKJ87
     Jump to 2NT. A 2H reverse describes your strength and suit length, but it muddles the more valuable message that you have a good hand for a notrump game. When in doubt, suggest a strain for the final contract rather than trying to describe specific features of your hand.

You open 1S and partner responds a Forcing 1NT:   AQJ86  KJ63  KJ10
     The most straightforward action is the raise to 2NT, showing 17-18 semi-balanced, which is exactly what you have. Opener's minor-suit rebid is a weakness of the forcing notrump convention, so try to avoid it if you have a reasonable alternative. This 18-count is too heavy for 2D and too soft for 3D, both of which will delay your "real" decision. If partner raises diamonds or takes a preference to spades, you'll be wishing you had suggested notrump earlier, before you gave the opponents so much information.

You open 2C and partner responds 2D (waiting or semi-positive):   AKQ4  AQJ10  AK106
     Bid 2NT. Unless you have a gadget for showing a 4-4-4-1 game-force, your rebid is going to mislead partner. When faced with a choice of lies, go with the one that gives partner the easiest options for his rebid.

  2007 Karen Walker