opens 1H and you respond 1S with a typical minimum such as
KJ542 43 865 A73
If you made a
list of the rebids you'd most like to hear from partner, your top choices would
4S, 4H, 3S, 3H, 2S, 2H, 3NT, 2NT, 1NT.
Your ranking would change somewhat if you held a singleton heart (or if you really wanted to be dummy). With the majority of responding hands, though, you're going to be most comfortable with auctions where partner raises your suit, rebids his own long suit or bids notrump.
These are the most desirable rebids because they're all value bids that pinpoint opener's point-count and put you in charge. Unlike the alternatives -- new-suit rebids of 2C, 2D, 3C and 3D -- the "old-suit" and notrump bids also confirm or strongly suggest a strain for the final contract, which usually simplifies the rest of your auction.
If you're opener, it's helpful to keep responder's preferences in mind when considering your rebid. When in doubt, choose a value bid that will make it easier for partner to decide on his rebid or place the final contract.
Opener's value bids can be especially important in the 2-over-1 system. One common misconception about these auctions is that after the forcing-to-game response, both partners should conserve bidding space by making minimum rebids.
This idea is only
half right. Two-over-one bidding is most accurate if you agree that responder
does not jump with extra values, but opener may.
In most 2-over-1 auctions, responder is the captain or "asker" and opener is the "teller". When responder has slam aspirations, he uses forcing, low-level rebids to give opener room to provide information. Put another way, responder follows the principle of fast arrival -- "fast" rebids (jumps to game) show minimums; "slow" (low-level) rebids tend to show extras.
Opener, however, makes value rebids -- he bids higher with stronger hands, lower with minimums. If opener always made a low-level rebid, no matter how strong his hand, responder would never be able to make an intelligent decision about how high to bid. For this reason, it's important for opener to define his strength at his earliest opportunity.
For example, you open 1S with AKJ1085 A54 KJ6 J and partner responds 2C. Those who subscribe to the "never-jump" theory would rebid just 2S to keep the auction low, but they've concealed their strength. They've also increased their chances of scoring +680 when the field is making +1430. It's worth using up an extra level of bidding if it gives partner extra information, so the value bid of 3S is perfect with this hand.
The sooner you
can make a value bid -- usually in your suit or notrump -- the easier the
auction will be for partner. It won't always be possible to show your exact
strength with your first rebid, though. After 1S by you, 2C by partner, you
should settle for a minimum rebid with hands such as
KQ7643 42 AKQ K4 (Rebid 2S)
AQ985 AQ105 A102 5 (Rebid 2H)
Neither hand has a strong message to send about where to play, so don't waste space by over-emphasizing a weak suit or jumping in a new suit. Make your rebid at the two-level and plan to show your extra values later.
Your specific agreements about opener's rebids will depend on whether you play a Max Hardy-style or a Mike Lawrence-style 2-over-1 system. In general, the Lawrence system emphasizes value rebids that define opener's strength. The Hardy approach includes more rebids that show distribution, but do not pinpoint strength.
Here's a quick summary of opener's value bids in the Lawrence system:
Minimum strength is shown by a minimum rebid in your suit or notrump (1H-2D / 2H or 2NT). In Lawrence, rebidding two of your major does not guarantee extra length -- it can be done with a minimum that is unsuitable for a 2NT rebid. (In Hardy, you may also rebid your major with a 5-card suit, but this will be necessary less often, since you can make reverse rebids and 3-level new-suit bids with minimum hands.)
Extra values are shown when you jump in your suit or notrump (1H-2D / 3H or 3NT), make a reverse rebid (1H-2C / 2S) or make a non-jump rebid at the 3-level (1H-2D / 3C or 3D). (In Hardy, reverses and three-level bids do not promise extra values.)
18+ balanced: Rebid 2NT, then show your extra strength later (1H-2D / 2NT-3NT / 4NT).
Other new-suit bids at the 2-level (1S-2C / 2D or 2H) are natural, but don't define your strength.
© 2007 Karen Walker