Negative Freebids   (April 2005)

Part 4 -- Opener's rebids

In previous articles, we've focused on how responder can use the Negative Freebid (NFB) to describe  hands with long suits and limited high-card strength. To add this convention to your system, you agree that over an opponent's overcall of your opening bid, responder's non-jump, new-suit bid between 2C and 3D is not forcing. It shows 5-11 points and a long suit (usually six-plus cards, but it may be a good five-carder at the two-level).

Opener also has critical decisions to make in these auctions. In some cases, partner's NFB will give you enough information to place the contract. In others, you'll need to choose a rebid that describes your strength and fit for partner's suit. Here's a system for opener's rebids after this typical NFB auction:

        You     LHO    Partner     RHO    
   1D         1S           2H          Pass

You'll want to adjust some of these meanings if your RHO competes. If RHO raises to 2S in the auction above:

Depending on the vulnerability and his own playing strength, partner may pass, rebid his suit, support your suit, bid notrump or cuebid (3S) to ask you for a stopper.

Over Responder's Negative Double

Responder's negative double is alertable. If the opponents ask, explain that partner could have either a "normal" negative double or a forcing hand with one long suit.

For the time being, you should assume it's a standard negative double and make your natural rebid at the appropriate  level. Keep in mind, though, that partner may not have the major he's temporarily showing, so use some caution. If you have a strong hand with four-card support for the unbid major, try to avoid blasting off to 4H or 4S. Instead, start with a low-level cuebid to let partner clarify his hand type.

Be careful about passing for penalties. Partner could have a monster one-suiter, so don't pass a negative double unless your hand and the vulnerability screams that it's right.

Over Responder's Jump Shift

Responder's jump-shift in competition (1D-1S-3C) is invitational, showing a long, strong suit and a hand worth around 10-11 points. Partner will often have a "cover card" outside his suit, but his jump is based more on playing strength than high-card values. As opener, you use that picture of partner's hand to evaluate your chances for game. Your point-count isn't the deciding factor. Quick tricks, a fit and ruffing values are.

Continued in Part 5

Copyright ©  2005   Karen Walker