Bridge Tips — Bidding
TIPS FOR THE
It is permissible to open 1NT or 2NT
with a small doubleton. However, if your nerves are shot,
at least have stoppers in the other three suits.
With four clubs and four spades,
a hand strong enough to open 1NT, but no stopper in EITHER
red suit, open 1C.
S. AKJ4 H. 87 D. 654 C.
(Open 1C) Ditto with four diamonds and four spades and no stopper
in clubs or hearts, open 1D. If partner responds 1H, rebid 1S; if partner
responds 2C, rebid 2S.
Do not bid a weak four card suit
in response to an opening bid holding a good hand (an opening
bid or better). If there is a slam in the hand, your response
will usually lead to trouble. Among other calamities, it might
encourage partner to bid 3NT with a singleton in that suit.
If partner opens 1D, respond 1S with:
S. AKQ10 H. 9432 D. AJ8 C.
There is no rule from up above that dictates that you MUST
respond one heart with four hearts and four spades although
you almost always do.
|| As a general rule, with 4-4 in the majors, respond 1H to
an opening bid of 1C or 1D, but with 5-5 in the majors, respond
1S regardless of the relative strength of the two suits.
With five cards in a minor and four cards in a major
plus opening bid strength, respond in the minor and then bid
the major. If partner opens 1D and you hold: S. AJ76
H. 54 D. 54 C. AK1076
Respond 2C and then bid spades. DON'T START WITH 1S!.
With less than opening bid strength, bid the major first.
S. KQ76 H. 54 D. 43 C. AJ764
As the opener, keep in mind that
a 1NT response to an opening major suit bid frequently contains
a singleton (usually in your suit), and may contain a void.
It is one of the few notrump responses that does not show
a somewhat balanced hand. If partner opens 1H, respond 1NT
with: S. J54 H. - D. A5432 C.
Q9653. This is the reason why you should have a six card major
suit to rebid the suit after a 1NT response.
||After a two level response to an opening bid, a new suit by the opener is forcing;
after a one level response it is not-unless it is a reverse.
Opener Responder Opener Responder Opener Responder
2C (not forcing)
2D (forcing -a reverse)
||After a single raise, a new suit is forcing.
Think of the 2D bid as having the strength of a reverse which
means 17+ HCP, minimum.
Opener is NOT running
away from a short club. Opener is trying to get to game with
a big hand. Opener may have: S. A4 H.
84 D. AK97 C. AK764.
In this sequence, 2NT by the opener after the 2C response
shows 17-18 HCP. When responder limits a hand with a
single raise and opener bids again, opener is trying for game
When considering whether to open
1NT, treat a five card suit headed by three of the top five
honors (or two of the top three honors with a 9 thrown in)
as worth one extra point. In other words, with 17 HCP and
a strong five card suit, treat the hand as an 18 point hand.
If you play a range of 15-17, do not open 1NT. Open the bidding
in the five card suit and then jump in notrump. You pick up:
S. A107 H. J92 D.
K5 C. AKQ76 Open 1C and jump to 2NT if partner responds
1D, 1H or 1S. Too strong to open 1NT.
TIPS FOR THE RESPONDER
When partner opens
1H and you have five spades and three hearts, raise to 2H
with 6-9 HCP. With 10-12 HCP, respond 1S and bid 3H at your
a. S. KQ876 H. Q43
D. 65 C. 876
Raise 1H to 2H (See next tip)
b. S. KQ876 H. AJ3 D. 65 C. 876
Respond 1S and if partner rebids 2C, 2D or 2H, bid 3H.
In the sequence 1H-1S, 2C-2H, your
2H preference shows TWO hearts, not three. With three hearts
tend to raise directly.
a. S. AJ543 H. 105 D. Q542 C. 104
Is a normal responding hand for the example sequence.
b. S. K54 H. 875 D. J432 C. Q54
With 6H-7HCP, three nondescript hearts, plus a balanced hand,
respond 1NT to a 1H opening bid. If partner rebids 2C or 2D,
return to 2H in theory showing a doubleton heart. Not to worry,
partner will not complain when he sees what you put down.
Raising to 2H is too encouraging with 6-7 point abominations.
partner opens 1H or 1S and there is an intervening overcall,
a jump cuebid by responder shows a singleton in the opponent's
suit, at least four card support for partner's suit plus minimum
of 14-15 support points. It is a mild slam try. Say partner
opens 1H and the next hand bids 2C and you hold:
S. AJ87 H. KQ43 D. Q1098 C. 3
With 15 support points, jump to 4C making it easier for partner
to evaluate her hand.
A jump cue bid after a minor suit
opening bid also shows a singleton in the jump suit, but this
jump promises five or six card support and denies a side four
card major. Say partner opens 1C and the next hand overcalls
1D and you hold:
S. A43 H. K43
You have a perfect 3D response. Do it!
When partner bids 4NT, Blackwood,
and you have 1 or 3 aces along with a void, jump to the SIX
level of your VOID suit. If your void suit is higher ranking
than the trump suit, jump to the six level of the trump suit.
Say you hold either of these hands:
a. S. - H. AJ5432 D. 543 C. J982
b. S. J98 H. AJ5432 D. - C. 5432
Partner opens 1H, you bid 4H and partner
bids 4NT. With (a) bid 6H showing 1 ace with a higher ranking
(spade) void. With (b) jump to 6D showing one ace and a diamond
If you play strong jump shifts, a jump shift should be made
with one of three hand types: (1) A strong one
suited hand; (2) A hand that has strong support for
partner's suit; (3) A balanced type hand with a five
or possibly a six card suit with much of the strength on the
outside. With (1) rebid your suit; With (2) return to partner's
suit; With (3) rebid some number of notrump.
A convention worth considering is
Leaping Michaels. With a name like that, how can you go wrong?
Basically, this is the idea. If your RHO opens 2H or 2S, weak,
or the bidding comes around to you in 4th seat LHO having
opened 1H or 1S and having been raised to 2H or 2S, a leap
by you to 4C or 4D is "Leaping Michaels. But what does
It shows a strong
hand with five or six cards in the minor that you have just
bid plus FIVE cards in the unbid major. For example, if your
RHO opens 2S, bid 4C with: S. - H. QJ987
D. A6 C. AK9874 The jump is not forcing,
but responder doesn't need much to bid game. Bid the same
if your LHO opens 1S, partner passes and RHO raises to 2S.
In addition, when
playing 'Leaping Michaels', you can use the direct cuebid
of the opponent's suit at the three level to ask partner for
a stopper in their suit when holding a solid six or seven
card suit plus outside strength but no stopper in their suit.
For example, if your RHO opens 2H,
bid 3H with: S. A4 H. 54 D. AKQ10764
C. K5. Bid the same if your LHO opens 1H, partner passes,
and RHO bids 2H. Note: A good partner will have a stopper.
If partner has a weak hand with no stopper, partner
should bid 4C which partner corrects to diamonds if necessary.
Responder can also jump to 5C (which will be corrected, if
necessary) or, perhaps, cuebid opener's suit with a singleton.
Every 4NT bid is not Blackwood. If your last bid was 1NT or 2NT and partner
bids 4NT, that is not Blackwood. It is a natural, invitational, bid which can
Do not use Blackwood prematurely with a void. Say
you pick up:
S. AKQ876 H. - D KQ8 C.
Do not bid 4NT!
If partner shows you an ace, you won't know which one it is.
Cuebid 4C. If partner has the DA, you will hear about it.
P.S If you play
"Exclusion Blackwood", where a jump over game (5H)
shows a void in the jump suit and asks for aces and/or the
king of trumps outside of the jump suit, you could do that
with this hand. Responses are: 5S (the first step
shows '0' aces. 5NT, the second step shows '1', etc. In effect
there are three aces and the king of the agreed suit in play.
Noe: Most people have never used
this convention in their entire life!
Do not ask partner for kings via
5NT unless the partnership has all of the aces and you are
interested in a grand slam. Partner is allowed to jump to
seven directly if 13 tricks can be counted.
You hold: S. KQ10876 H. 2 D. AQJ42
Bid 6S. Do NOT bid 5NT asking
for kings. You are missing an ace and partner might go ballistic
and bid a grand.
Do not use Blackwood prematurely holding two or more
losers in an UNBID suit.
You hold: S. KQ987 H. Q107 D. AKJ7 C. 2
Cuebid 4D. Do not bid 4NT until you hear a heart cuebid, a suit in which you
have two or more quick losers.
When responding to a regular 4NT Blackwood bid, respond
5C with either no aces or all four aces.
Do not count a void as an ace when responding to Blackwood.
When responding to regular Blackwood
holding 0 or 2 aces ('0' is optional and is only done facing
a huge hand after you have already shown a pitiful one) aces
along with a void, jump to 5NT. Note: When responding
to Keycard Blackwood, the king of the agreed suit is counted
as an ace.
S. A1087 H. AJ843 D. QJ87 C. -
(1) Splinter jump- strong hand- usually
a singleton (Some play that it shows a void!)
(2) Two aces (keycards) with a club void
When partner asks you for kings,
via 5NT, do not answer for kings if you can count 13 tricks.
Bid a grand. Answering for kings tells partner you cannot
count 13 tricks knowing that the partnership has all four
You hold: S. 6 H. KQ1076543 D. KQ4 C. 4
(1) Regular Blackwood
(2) 0 or 4
aces, clearly 0.
(3) Kings? Also tells
you that partner has all four aces as the 5NT bid PROMISES
joint possession of the four aces. Knowing that, bid 7NT as
you can count 13 tricks: 8 hearts, 3 diamonds and both
With two aces and a void, respond
Note: the void cannot be in partner's first bid suit.
You hold: S. 876 H. AJ10874 D. - C. AJ94
4NT (3) ?
(2) Cuebid (3) Regular Blackwood
Respond 5NT showing
two aces plus an unknown void- which in this case must be
diamonds as you normally do not show a void in partner's first
to a takeout double, add one extra point for an unbid four
card major and two extra points for an unbid five card major.
Then if your total comes to 9-11 working points ( do not count
anything for jacks or queens in any suit bid by an opponent)
make a single jump response, not forcing. With less than 9
working points, make a non-jump response. With more than 11
revalued points, cuebid the opponent's suit. Say your LHO
opens 1C, partner doubles, the next passes and you are gazing
at these possible hands:
a. S. A874 H. K4
D. 10843 C. 9743 8 revalued points — (one
extra for your 4th spade) respond 1S
b. S. A874 H. K4
D. J1043 C. 976 9 revalued points
— (one extra for the 4th spade) respond 2S
c. S. AK874 H.
76 D. 87 C. 10832 9 revalued points — (two
extra for the five card spade suit) respond 2S
d S. AK87 H. K5
D. A432 C. J87 15 revalued points (CJ not
counted) respond 2C
The ideal distribution for a takeout
double is 4-4-4-1 with a singleton in the opening bidder's
suit. With this distribution, 11 HCP is enough to double an
opening bid. Doubling with 10 HCP, even with the perfect distribution,
is pushing the pencil. If you do, your singleton should not
be an honor, and it doesn't hurt to have strong intermediates
either. A passed hand takeout double logs in at 10-11
HCP. 9 HCP is permissible if you are feeling frisky
and have a singleton in the opening bidder's suit.
With a 4-4-4-1 pattern, it is normal
to pass if the opponent opens in one of your four card
suits and then double later if they find a fit in your singleton
You hold: S. AJ65 H. 4 D. KQ98 C. A1087
East South (you) West North
1D Pass 1H Pass
Double. The bidding has come up just the way you were
hoping. Your double shows at least an opening bid with short
hearts, diamond length, plus support for the unbid suits.
It is risky to double an opening bid holding a small
doubleton in an unbid major, particularly a small doubleton in spades. To pull
this off, you should have 19+ H.C.P
You hold: (a)
S. 43 H. AK98 D. AK75 C. AJ9
43 H. Q1042 D. AK75 C. AJ9
East South (you)
With (a) you are
strong enough to double. If partner bids the expected 1S,
rebid 1NT showing 18+to 19 HCP.
With (b) overcall 1NT directly. You
don't need stoppers in all four suits to overcall 1NT, just
one or two in any suit they have bid.
A takeout double followed by a suit bid is stronger than overcalling in the
With a doubleton
in the opener's suit, you need 17+ HCP to double and then
bid a five card suit. With less, overcall.
With a singleton
in the opener's suit and some 5-4-3-1 pattern, you need 15+
HCP to double and then bid your five card suit.
South (you) West North
With S. AJ4
H. KQ986 D. KQ3 C. J4
Overcall 1H. The CJ is not working.
With S. AJ42
H. KQ986 D. A102 C. 7 Dbl. and then
bid hearts if partner doesn't bid spades.
With S. AJ4 H.
KQ986 D. AK4 C. 32 Dbl.
and then bid hearts.
Review: To make a jump response
to a takeout double you need 9-11 "revalued points".
(1.) Unless you are responding in notrump, do not
count jacks or queens in the opener's suit.
(2.) Add 2 extra
points if you have a five card major and a second extra point
if the hand has a side four card suit as well.
S. AK543 H. Q43 D. 8743 C.
If partner doubles a 1H opening bid,
do not count anything for the HQ, but give yourself three
extra points, two for the fifth spade and one for the fourth
diamond bringing your grand total to 10 revalued points. The
proper response is 2S, the same response you would have made
without the HQ.
In the same vein count three extra
points for a six card suit plus one more if the hand has a
side four card suit. If partner doubles a 1H opening bid and
S. AJ8432 H. 653 D. J95 C. 4
2S. You have 6 HCP plus 3 extra for the six card suit.
If your hand reevaluates to more than 11 points, cuebid and then bid your
You hold: S. KQ54 H. A9543 D. Q8 C. 54
If your partner doubles a 1C opening
and next hand passes count our revalued strength. Yyou have
11 HCP plus two extra for the fifth heart and one extra for
the fourth spade bringing your total to 14. Start with a cuebid
of 2C and if partner bids 2D, bid 2H, forcing. If partner
bids 2H or 2S, raise to game.
One time you can cuebid with fewer
than 12 revalued points is when partner doubles a minor suit
opening bid and catches you with two four card majors along
with 9-11 revalued points. Cuebid and then raise partner's
expected 2H or 2S rebid to the three level, not forcing.
Say you hold: S. A843 H. A1074 D. 92 C.
If partner doubles 1D, respond 2D and then raise partner's likely
2H or 2S rebid to the three level.
PREEMPTIVE BIDDING TIPS
Do not open with a beneath game preempt
holding two aces or one ace and two kings. You are too strong
Vul. vs not, your suit should contain
3 of the top 5 honors or 2 of the top 3 honors.
After you preempt, and partner bids
a new suit beneath the game level, you cannot pass. A new
suit is forcing. Don't get cold feet!
After opening 3C and hearing partner
respond 3D, show a major suit stopper if you have one.
S. QJ4 H. 3 D. 42 C. AJ108743.
Bid 3S to show a spade stopper. The 3S response does not show
a real suit. A 3C or 3D opening bid is not supposed to conceal
a four card major.
Although most three bids show 7 card suits, if
you have 7-4 distribution, with a long major, think about opening four. S.
AQJ10543 H. 4 D. Q1086 C. 3
This hand is a clear 4S opening bid.
The fourth card in the four card suit is usually worth
an extra trick.
If partner responds 3NT to your three level preempt, that
ends the auction. It's not on your head to take it out. Partner
may have a solid suit perhaps with a singleton or void in
your suit. Do not cross partner's intentions!
Preempt as often as possible consistent with the vulnerability.
It drives the opponents mad.
After you preempt, partner is in charge and takes ALL sacrifices. Reread
When partner, a preemptive bidder, doubles an eventual contract
(usually a slam contract), it is almost always an alert of
a side suit void. Try to find it on opening lead. Do not lead
partner's suit! Do not lead a trump!
WHEN THEY PREEMPT
Be agressive defensively with a singleton in the opponent's suit.
You can make a takeout double with as few as 12-13 HCP if you have the magic
With a small doubleton in the opponent's
suit, check your support for the unbid majors. If you have
four card support for either one or both of them, you can
risk a takeout double with as few as 14 HCP. With three card
support for the unbid major, you need 15-16 HCP, minimum,
to make a takeout double. Also, when making a takeout double
do not count unsupported jacks or queens in the opener's suit.
When partner makes a non-jump response to your takeout double
of an opening preempt, assume partner has 4-5 HCP. His actual
range is 0-8, so you should take a middle of the road position.
If your RHO opens 3C or 3D and you overcall 4C or 4D, you
show a major two-suiter, at LEAST 5-5 with opening bid values.
If your RHO opens 3H and you overcall 4H, you are showing a spade-minor
two suiter, at least 5-5 with opening bid values and then some. You might
have a hand like this: S. AJ943 H. A D. 2 C.
KQ10876 Partner bids 4NT to ask for your minor.
The double of an opening 4H bid
is TAKEOUT oriented and the doubler must have at least three
spades. If you have strong hearts, you are fixed. You must
pass and hope partner reopens with a takeout double. A bid
of 4NT over a 4H opening bid shows the minors, 5-5 or 6-5
(a) S. A2 H. KQ5 D. A8765 C.
(b) S. AJ4 H. 5 D.
KJ984 C. AK43
(c) S. 4 H. 3 D.
KQ984 C. AQJ874
If your RHO opens 4H, pass with (a)
(it only hurts for a little while), double with (b)
and bid 4NT with (c).
And how should you deal with a 4S opening bid?
I was afraid you would ask that. Conventional wisdom is the following:
1. Double shows either a strong balanced hand, at
LEAST the strength of a strong opening notrump bid- or spade shortness, perhaps:
S. 4 H. AJ87 D.
AK54 C. KJ43
pulls a double of 4S with a distributional hand. A response
of 4NT is a two or three-suited takeout.
2. With the strongest
three-suiter imaginable, overcall 5S forcing the hand to slam.
Perhaps: S. - H. AKJ9 D. AKQ4 C. KQ1076
Don't worry, you'll never have this hand.
4NT WHEN DOES IT
After either player bids a natural 1NT or 2NT and partner bids 4NT,
that is natural, and though a slam try, can be passed. To ask for aces, leap
to 4C, Gerber.
After the 4th suit a leap to 4NT is natural.
After a two level response and a new suit by the opener at the three
level, a leap to 4NT by responder is natural.
After a two over one response followed by a jump rebid of 3NT by
opener, 4NT by responder is natural.
After a 3H or 3S opening, a direct
overcall of 4NT is for the minors.
3H, 3S 4NT
After a 4H opening,
a 4NT overcall is for the minors.
After a 4S opening, a 4NT overcall by 2nd hand shows some
two-suited hand. Responder presumes the minors... but
East South West North
4S 4NT Pass 5C
When the 4NT bidder removes partner's 5C response
to 5D, it means the 4NT bidder has hearts and diamonds. Perhaps: S. x H.
AQJxx D. AKJxxx C. x
After a natural opening bid of 1C or 1D
and 2nd hand overcalls 4S, 4NT by
the responder is
for takeout, not Blackwood.
North East South West
1D 4S 4NT?
South's 4NT bid is a 3-suited takeout. Perhaps: S.
x H. AKxx D. Qxx C. AQJxx
Many players use
an opening 4NT bid to ask for specific aces. This comes in
very handy when the opener has a void.
Say opener has:
S. AKQxxxxx H. KQJx D. A
All opener wants
to know if partner has the HA. Period. The responses
to this opening bid of 4NT are:
5C= No ace
5D,5H,5S =The ace
of that suit
5NT= 2 aces (don't
hold your breath)
6C= The CA