Bridge bidding -- DONT Convention Summary

Introduced by Marty Bergen in Bridge Today (Sept./Oct. 1989 issue; pp. 23-29)

The DONT convention ("Disturb the Opponents' Notrump) is used in the direct or balancing seat after an opponent opens a strong notrump (14+ HCPs). It can also be used over 2NT openers.

Overview of DONT actions

One-suited hands (Double or 2S overcall):

Double relays partner to 2C to let the doubler show his suit. The doubler can then pass (if his suit was clubs) or bid 2D, 2H or 2S. If the doubler holds a strong hand with game interest, he can jump to 3 of his suit.

Bergen warns that the since the doubler could be light in high cards, partner should "never" leave the double in. However, partner is not forced to take the 2C relay if he has his own suit (a 6-card suit or good 5-carder), especially when he holds extreme shortness in one of the unbid suits. One of the examples Bergen gives is   Jxxx  x   KQJ10x   xxx . Instead of taking the relay to 2C (over which partner will most likely bid 2H), he would bid 2D over partner's double.

After the overcaller shows his suit, partner can raise to show a fit. Raises of minors tend to be preemptive; raises of majors show a mild game invitation. To show a fit and a stronger game invitation, partner bids 2NT.

A 2S overcall is one of two ways to show a spade one-suiter (you can also double first, and then rebid 2S). To distinguish between the two sequences, you can adopt one of these sets of agreements (depending on your partnership preference:)

  1. A direct 2S overcall shows minimum strength. Double-then-2S shows extra high-card values and more defense.
  2. A direct 2S overcall shows a "true" one-suiter with longer, stronger spades. Double-then-2S shows only a 5-card spade suit and/or a hand that may be suitable for play in other suits. Since the double gives responder room to show his own suit, the double-then-2S auction tends to show a more balanced hand.

Two-suited hands (2C, 2D, 2H, 2NT or 3NT overcall):

After a 2C, 2D or 2H overcall, the meanings of partner's bids are:

In general: If you're responder, assume that partner's second suit is probably the one where you have shortness, and remember that he may be only 5-4 in his suits. If partner overcalls 2C and you hold   Axxx   xx  Jxxx   Jxx, you should opt for safety and pass in your known club fit. If you bid 2D to ask for his second suit, he'll probably bid 2H, which may be a 4-2 fit.

As Bergen notes, if partner overcalls 2D and you hold   QJ10x   A   xx   QJ109xx , "dream on" if you think his second suit might be spades. Bergen recommends bidding 3C with this hand.

Over opponents' interference

If the 1NT opener's partner bids or doubles after your DONT overcall or double, your partner should never try to "guess" what your unnamed suit is. The only way to get the DONT bidder to show his unnamed suit is to double or redouble.

After your DONT two-suited overcall and an intervening bid by the opponent, the meanings of your partner's bids are:

Defending against DONT overcalls and doubles:

If you open 1NT and your opponent makes a DONT bid or double, Bergen's system for partner's responses is:

Copyright ©  Karen Walker