In most auctions, the first few bids are an exchange of information about suit lengths and point count. The purpose of this early bidding conversation is to describe your hand, not to tell partner what the final contract should be.
Later bids in the auction tend to be stronger suggestions about the best trump suit and level for the final contract. The critical decision is often made by responder at his second turn to bid.
These decisions are easiest in auctions where partner raises your suit or shows a balanced hand by opening or rebidding notrump. In other auctions -- especially those where openerís rebid shows a distributional hand -- you may have to continue searching for information.
The longer your auction, the fewer ďrulesĒ there are to follow. At your second and later turns to bid, youíll need to use bridge logic and your picture of partnerís hand to choose your next action.
Partner may open a bit lighter than usual (11 to 12 points) when he has a distributional hand. Heís most likely to stretch when he has length in major suits rather than minors.
Remember that you show your point-count range anytime you bid notrump, raise partnerís suit or rebid your own suit. Be sure you choose the proper level when you make these rebids.
If you locate a trump fit, add in your distribution points to determine your full playing strength and the level for your raise.
New-suit bids force opener to bid again. If you need more information after an auction such as 1C-1S-2C, you can bid 2D or 2H to force. Your bid of a new suit at the 2-level or higher shows at least invitational strength and may be artificial. You donít need length in the suit to use it as a force. See New Minor Forcing for more details on how to use new-suit bids to collect information.
Stop low on misfits. If you have 6-10 points with little or no support for partnerís suit, you may have to pass his minimum rebid. Never try to ďsaveĒ him by running to notrump when youíre weak.
Hereís a quick summary of the distributional pictures opener is giving you with his rebids:
Í If opener bids his suit twice:
Low-level rebid [ 1H - 1S - 2H ]:
If you responded at the 1-level, opener promises at least 6 cards in his suit and minimum strength (11-15 points).
If you responded at the 2-level [1H - 2D - 2H], opener may have only a 5-card suit for his rebid. He may rebid his 5-card major if he canít raise your suit or if his hand isnít right for a 2NT rebid (he has shortness or no stopper in an unbid suit).
If opener bids the same suit three times, he usually has 7 cards (or a very strong 6 cards).
Jump rebid [ 1H - 1S - 3H or 1C - 1H - 3C]:
When opener makes a jump rebid in his suit, he's showing a very strong suit and a hand with the playing strength of 16-18 points
If he jump-rebids his major suit, you donít need a good fit to accept it as trumps. His suit is usually powerful enough that he can play opposite a singleton or small doubleton in your hand.
If he jump-rebids his minor suit and you have enough strength for game, consider playing 3NT instead of 5 of partnerís suit.
Jump to game [ 1H - 1S - 4H ]:
Opener has a very long, powerful suit. He may have minimum point-count, but he has game-level playing strength.
Openerí bid is a command that his suit is trumps. You can bid on if youíre interested in slam, but you shouldnít try to play in any other trump suit.
Í If opener bids a second suit at the 2-level or higher:
Assume he has at least 5 cards in his first suit and at least 4 cards in his second suit.
Openerís exact strength depends on the rank of his second suit and the level of his rebid.
If opener's second suit is lower in rank than his first suit [1H - 1S - 2C or 2D]:
If you have a bare minimum, opener wants you to choose one of his suits -- either by passing his second suit or by ďretreatingĒ to 2 of his first suit. You may have to take a preference to a suit where you have only a 7-card fit (you hold a doubleton in opener's first suit).
If you have a stronger hand, you can raise his second suit, bid notrump or force the auction by bidding the fourth (unbid) suit [1H - 1S - 2C - 2D].
Opener may have from 11 to as many as 17 high-card points, so try to keep the auction open for him if you have fair values (9+ points)
If opener's second suit is higher in rank than his first suit [1C - 1S - 2D or 2H]:
This is a strong reverse rebid, showing at least 16-17 high-card points, 5+ cards in his first suit and 4+ cards in his second suit. This auction forces you to bid at least one more time.
Be sure you bid up to game level if you have a good 8-9 points or more. Add in your distribution points if youíre raising one of his suits.
Opener usually has a singleton, so bid notrump only if you have good stoppers in the unbid suit.
If opener jumps in his second suit [1H - 1S - 3C or 3D]:
This is a strong jump-shift, showing 18-19+ high- card points. You cannot pass. You must keep bidding until you reach at least game level.
Partner opens 1C, you respond 1S, and partner rebids 2C. What is your rebid?
KJ763 Q942 K105 3
Pass. This hand rates to be a misfit, so give up on finding majors and stop low. Your spades arenít long or strong enough to rebid, and a 2H bid would force partner to bid again (new suits by responder are forcing).
QJ10653 863 K94 3
2S. This is the suit quality you need to insist on your own suit. Your low-level rebid shows a minimum hand of 6-9 points. Partner will usually pass.
AK862 742 AJ7 Q2
2D. You have game values, but which game? You canít bid 3NT with no heart stopper, so try a new suit as an artificial force. Your problem will be solved if partner can bid 2S (showing ďbelatedĒ 3-card support) or 2NT (showing a stopper in the unbid suit, hearts).
K1086 KJ4 AQ93 103
3NT. Thereís no point in bidding your diamond suit. You have game strength and all suits stopped, so get to the final contract as quickly as possible.
Partner opens 1S, you respond 1NT, and he rebids 3S. What is your rebid?
10 K86 AJ843 J932
4S. The ace and king are valuable cards. Partner has a very strong suit, so donít worry about your trump support. You need a stronger hand and better outside stoppers to bid 3NT.
Partner opens 1H, you respond 1S, and he rebids 2C. What is your rebid?
Q10743 J5 A65 742
2H. Partner has at least 9 cards in his two suits, so his hand doesnít have much room for spade support. Your choice is between a 5-2 heart fit and a 4-3 club fit. When in doubt, choose the 5-2 fit, especially if itís a major and you have a good doubleton as here. Your 2H rebid does not show extra strength. It just says you prefer partnerís first suit.
AQ642 3 765 K1093
3C. Partner could have up to 17 points, so try to find one more bid if you have a good response and a fit. Your raise shows 4+ clubs and around 9-11 points.
AQ65 62 K107 Q643
2NT. When you have close to game-level strength but your only fit is a minor, always consider a notrump contract. Your 2NT rebid shows invitational values (10-11 points) and stoppers in the unbid suit(s).
Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H, and he rebids 2D. What is your rebid?
QJ102 AJ92 J73 105
3NT. Partnerís second suit is higher in rank than his first, so his rebid is a reverse, which shows 16-17+ points. This rebid promises at least 9 cards in his two suits (4 diamonds and 5 clubs). Your 9 points is enough for game, and with double stoppers in both of partnerís short suits, your hand is perfect for 3NT.
AQ43 A982 2 K1065
6C. Your hand is more powerful than its high-card points because it has aces, extra trumps (giving you a 9-card fit) and outside shortness (partner can take extra tricks by using your clubs to trump his diamond losers). Or, if you play Lebensohl 2NT rebids, you can set the trump suit by rebidding 3C (forcing), then using Blackwood to check on aces and kings. This may help you find a grand slam of 7C.
Copyright © Karen Walker