For Improvers

These notes were used in an Improvers Lesson on Bidding to Game at the Manly Leagues Bridge Club. The lesson covered general principles of responding with a strong hand.

A strong responding hand includes all hands with 11 high card points (HCP) or more, and distributional hands with 9 HCP or more. They are at least in the Game Invitation range even when partner has a minimum opening hand (12-15 HCP).

Such hands need to either show their full strength or make a forcing bid so that they can bid again.

With a fit with partner's major suit opening, add in shortage points and show the responding hand's strength: 

  • Jump to the 3 level with 10-12 total points (TP) - a "limit bid"
  • Bid a "Jacoby" 2NT with 7 or less losers (often 13+ TP) if you play these
  • Bid a game forcing splinter bid with a side suit shortage if you play these
  • Bid straight to game to show 13+ TP if you do not play Jacoby 2NT or play this jump bid as pre-emptive
  • Otherwise bid a new suit and show the major suit fit on your second bid
Without a fit with partner's major suit opening, bid a new suit (forcing bid) and then bid again to show better the responding hand's strength and shape. An alternative when you have some controls in all the other suits is to jump in NT (if you do not play the "Jacoby" 2NT). Different partnerships play these differently but a good starting point is to bid an invitational 2NT with 11-12 HCP and 3NT with 13-15 HCP.
When bidding a new suit, the same approach applies as with opening:
  • Bid the longest suit first
  • With 5-5 or 6-6 patterns bid the higher ranking suit first
  • With 4 card suits, bid them up-the-line (cheapest ranking first)
After opponent interference, it is still important to ensure that you either show your full strength in the first bid or make a forcing response:
  • With a fit in partner's major bid the appropriate level as before (note some intermediate/advanced partnerships use these bids (eg 1S - (2C) - 3S) as pre-emptive and bid the opponent's suit (eg 1S - (2C) - 3C)as a constructive raise for partner's suit)
  • Only bid NT with stopper(s) in opponent's suit (again 2NT as invitational 11-12 HCP, 3NT as showing 13-15 HCP).
  • New suit at the 2 level (not a jump) would generally (though not always) be showing 5 cards - and is generally played as forcing
  • Double becomes a general purpose forcing response for other hands without a fit in partner's major (though would generally show 4 cards in any unbid major) - and needs to be followed by a second bid that best describes the responder's strength and shape
  • A jump bid in a new suit would often be used to show a singleton or void in the suit bid as well as agreeing partner's suit (for those who play splinters)
  • Bidding the opponent's suit shows a stronger hand and generally asks partner to show any stopper in the opponent's suit by bidding NT as well as sometimes being the precursor to showing slam interest
Same approach applies to opener's rebids if hand is stronger than minimum - has to show the strength or undertake a forcing bid.
Try bidding these hands
  1. You hold QJ92 KQ43 Q3 QJ8 and partner opens 1C (and rebids 1S if you bid 1H)
  2. You hold KQ62 QJ43 A4 J73 and partner opens 1C (and rebids 2H if you bid 1H)
  3. You hold KT64 A52 K7 A862 and partner opens 1H
  4. You hold KQ9763 43 J3 AQ3 and partner opens 1D (and rebids 2C if you bid 1S)
  5. You hold KQ74 KQJ2 953 86 and partner opens 1D (and then rebids 2C, 3C)
  6. You hold K754 AQ86 KJ8 83  and partner opens 1C (and repeats C after your bids)
  7. You hold T94 KQJ832 A842 - and partner opens 1C (and repeats C after your bids)
  8. You hold AJ2 9 QJ6 AKT953 and partner opens 1H (and rebids 4H)
  9. You open 1S with AKJT7 AK7 6 Q964 and partner responds 2C