Church Minshull Bridge Club - Welcome to bridge

Church Minshull Bridge Club - Welcome to bridge
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class - session 1
Welcome to bridge
Congratulations on deciding to learn to play bridge and joining over 100
million people all over the world who play the best card game ever invented! It
is totally absorbing and stimulating, played by young and old alike, so this is a
decision you will never regret.
Playing bridge is a great social asset and whatever level you reach you can be sure of
many enjoyable hours at the card table.
Bridge is played with a normal pack of cards without the jokers. There are
four suits:
♠ - spades (black)
♥- hearts (red)
◊ - diamonds (red)
♣ - clubs (black)
In each suit there are thirteen cards, from the two to the ace. The ace is high and there
are no wild cards. Bridge is a member of the trick-taking family of card games that
also includes whist. All the cards are dealt out so everyone has thirteen. Essentially,
everyone plays a card and the person who plays the highest one wins the trick.
However, before you get to play the cards you partner have to decided your have to
decide how many tricks you think you can make in your combined hands
Points are scored for winning tricks and the object of the game is to win as many
tricks and points as possible. For convenience, the four sides of the table are referred to as
the cardinal points of the compass, North, East, South and West. One distinctive feature of
bridge is that it is a team game. North and South are partners, as are East and West. Any
tricks North wins counts for the North/South team's total, as do all the tricks won by South.
This aspect of bridge is one of the many things that make it different from other card
games - the ability to get the best out of your partner is very important.
Bridge is a complicated game - if it were not so, there would not be so much interest in it.
You can tell someone how to play Snap in two minutes and in thirty minutes everyone is
bored. Bridge is not like that. There is a lifetime of fascination in those fifty-two bits of
stiffened paper and there is also a lifetime of learning more. Just when you think you know
how to play, whole new areas open up before you so you never stop improving. The person
who is teaching you will readily admit he/she is still learning. In addition, the theory of the
game keeps developing so there are always new ideas to think about. For this reason, a
good bridge player is an old bridge player! People just keep on improving until senility sets
in - and there is good evidence to show that playing bridge delays that.
Playing with trumps
Many deals are played with one suit as trumps. The trump suit ranks higher than the other three
suits. This means a trump card beats any card of one of the other suits. You must follow suit if
you can but if you have no cards left in a suit you may play a trump card. If more than one
trump is played, the highest trump wins the trick.
You do not have to trump just because you have run out of a suit. You can, if you judge it more
sensible, discard a card in another suit instead.
How to Choose Trumps
The ‘side’ which thinks it can win the most tricks becomes ‘Declarer’ and always has to make
more tricks than the defenders and therefore need to control the play. To be able to do this
declarer must have more trumps than the defenders. This means you need at least eight cards
between your hand and dummy's to choose a suit as trumps - more would be better, seven will
do at a pinch but never choose a suit with six cards or fewer as trumps. It is usually better to
play in no trumps with no long suit.
Trumps and Scoring
Points are scored only for the seventh and subsequent tricks.
The points available depend on what has been chosen as trumps:
no trumps
40 for the first & 30 for subsequent tricks
30 per trick
30 per trick
20 per trick
20 per trick
Spades and Hearts are called the major suits because they score better and clubs and diamonds
are called the minors.
Game Bonus
If you bid and achieve a contract where the number of points exceed 100 you earn a game
bonus. The bonus points when non-vunerable is 300 and when vunerable 500. The stacking
board indicates whether you are vunerable or not.
In no-trumps the number of tricks you need to make to earn your bonus is 3 scoring tricks ( 9
tricks in total) In major suits ie Spades and Hearts you need to make 4 scoring tricks ( 10 in
total) and in Minor suits ie Diamonds and Clubs you need to make 5 scoring tricks (11 in total)
Even more generous bonuses apply if you achieve a small slam (12 total tricks ) or grand
slam ( 13 total tricks)
Penalty points
You incur penalty points if you fail to reach your contract. 50 points per trick when nonvunerable and 100 points per trick when vunerable.
A full scoring table is attached
Evaluating your Hand
To determine which ‘side’ thinks it can make the most tricks, you go through a ‘bidding’
process, which is often called an ‘auction’ with the side prepared to bid to the highest level
becoming declarer. Before you bid it is necessary to evaluate the strength of your hand.
This is done by allocating points to the high cards in your hand.
Ace = 4
King = 3
Queen = 2
Jack = 1
Additionally a hand with long and short suits is stronger to play.
You need 12 High Card Points to open the Bidding
Determine whether you hand is balanced in which case you will want to Bid notrumps
With one or two long suits you will want to be in a suit contract.
With 25 high card points between your hand and partners you should think about bidding to the
level of a ‘game’ contract which is a contract which if achieved will score 100 points or more.
Remember a game bonus is important.
Experience shows that with 25 high card points between declarer and dummy's hands there will
usually be the potential to make a game, at least in no trumps or one of the majors. Playing with
a minor suit as trumps, a few more points will usually be necessary - about 28 - as you have to
make the extra tricks. Not every hand with 25 points will be able to make a game and
sometimes it will be possible with fewer, but it is a good general guide. The points needed for
game are not magic!
Work it out. 40 points in the pack, 13 tricks on a deal, about 3 points needed for each trick.
Declarer and Defender
As state above on each hand of Bridge one partnership i.e. North/South or East/West is
Declarer and the other Defender. To determine which partnership is declarer a process of
bidding takes place, which is called an Auction. The purpose of the bidding is for each person
to describe his hand to his partner and together each partnership assesses how many tricks they
can make with their combined hands. We will move on to the bidding process in lesson 4, but
in order to understood the mechanics of the game we will first learn to play Mini Bridge
How to play MiniBridge
This is a partnership game. Partners sit opposite each other at the table. The cards are dealt
clockwise, one at a time until each player has thirteen cards.
The players count their high card points on the scale, ace = 4, king = 3, queen = 2, jack = 1.
Each player announces the points held, starting with the dealer. If the total is not 40, something
has gone wrong already and a re-count is necessary!
The partnership with the higher total wins the contract (re-deal if there are 20 points each) and
the individual in the partnership with the higher total becomes declarer, ie the person playing
the cards and there partners hand becomes dummy.
The dummy's hand is put down on the table and declarer chooses the contract. Declarer chooses
a game or a part-score and either no trumps or a specific trump suit. The required tricks for a
part score is 7 tricks; and for game it is 9 tricks in no-trumps, 10 tricks if Hearts or Spades are
trumps and 11 tricks in Clubs or Diamonds.
After the level and denomination have been chosen, the opening lead is made by the player to
the left of declarer. Play goes clockwise round the table. The highest card played in the suit
wins the trick, but a trump outranks any card in another suit. The player winning the trick, leads
to the next trick. Players must follow suit if they can, but may play a trump or discard another
suit if they cannot do so.
The cards are turned over and the winner of the trick leads to the next trick. Declarer controls
the play of dummy's cards and. if the winning card comes from dummy, the first card for the
next trick comes from dummy, but declarer says what it should be. After all cards have been
played, the players agree how many tricks have been won by each side and calculate the score.
The position of the dealer moves round the table clockwise, after each deal. Each deal is scored
independently and the game as a whole can be agreed to last for a fixed number of deals or
until a particular target total score is reached.
Scoring at Minibridge
The declaring side only score if they reach their target number of tricks, or more.
No points are won for the first six tricks - each additional trick is scored as follows:
♣ ♦ 20 points;
♥ ♠ 30 points; NT First trick 40 points, subsequent tricks 30 points;
Game contracts are ones where the trick score is 100 or more
• nine tricks in no trumps - nine tricks score 40 + 2 x 30 = 100
• ten tricks in hearts or spades - ten tricks score 4 x 30 = 120
• eleven tricks in clubs or diamonds - eleven tricks score 5 x 20 = 100
Part-score contracts, taking seven or more tricks, earn a bonus of 50 points.
Game contracts taking the required number of tricks (or more) get a 300 point
bonus If you don't reach your goal, the defenders get 50 points for each trick you
are short.
How many tricks should I make?
To what level should I bid?
(over and above the first six tricks)
Remember for a suit contract you need to find a fit in the suit. ie 8
cards in the combined hands
For Game you need to bid and make
9 tricks in No-trumps
10 tricks in the major suits (♠ ♥)
11 tricks in the minor suits (♣ ♦)
If you have points for game – Bid it!!
If you don’t – stop bidding at the lowest level
Church Minshull Bridge Club 2.1
Beginners Class – session 2
Declarer Play
There is a considerable benefit in learning and playing Minibridge early in the Bridge learning
process, as it enable beginners to understand the mechanics of the game and learn and practice
the playing of the cards before getting involved in the more complex subject of bidding.
By being able to see dummy’s hand before determining the contract, declarer is able to ensure
that they are playing in the correct suit or no-trumps and by combining the point count of both
hands we are also able to target the number of tricks we should make.
Strategy - No-trump or Suit Contract?
Immediately the first card has been led, Declarer needs pause and work out how they best
approach the play of the hand. The strategy to adopt will depend on whether you are
playing in a suit contract or no-trumps.
In no-trumps you need to maintain control of each suit until you have established sufficient
winners to make your contract, whereas in a trump contract you need to decide whether to
draw trumps immediately or get rid of your ‘losers’. Let us look at both type of contracts
in more detail.
No-trump Contracts
• As declarer you need a set number of tricks to make your contract. When dummy’s
hand goes down you must STOP for a moment and make a plan of how you are
going to make those tricks.
Count how many instant winners you have without losing the lead
Determine how many more tricks you need to make your contract
Check to see which suit will give you the best chance of making those
extra tricks
Play that suit and remember it is more important to establish winners
than winning the immediate trick
Contract 3 No-trumps
A 10 5
J 10 6 5
There is seven immediate winners in the combined hands. You need two more. The additional
two must come from clubs. As soon as you get the lead you must play clubs before taking your
winners in the other suits.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking it is safer to take all the winning tricks to make sure you get
them before deliberately losing the lead by playing clubs. This is not a winning strategy. If you
play off the high cards in the other suits first you have stripped your defences in those suits.
A general principle it to endeavourer to establish and retain control in each suit.
Hold-up play
Sometimes you can see how to set up the tricks you need for your contract but the opponents
make too many tricks first. Having nine potential tricks in 3NT is no good if, while you
establish them, the opponents can take five tricks. Some techniques exist to counter a threat,
one of which is called ‘hold-up play’. In the following example the contact is 3 No-trumps
and North leads the Heart K.
10 5 2
A Q J 10 2
We have only 4 quick tricks and in order to establish more winners we may lose the lead twice.
If we win trick one with the Ace immediately, when we lose the lead the opponents will take all
their heart winners. With only one stop in the suit, we need to cut communication between our
opponents hand so that if south wins the lead they cannot lead back hearts. We do that by
holding up the Ace until the third round by which time South will hold no more hearts and
unable to lead them back. We use the rule of seven (deduct our combined suit holding from 7)
to decide how many times to hold up our winner.
Establish tricks in long suit
You should always tackle first the suit that is going to give you the additional tricks. Whilst it
is not always the longest combined suit, it is on most occasions. When cashing or establishing
winners, play the high card from the hand with the fewer cards in order to not to block the suit.
Communication with dummy is important and it is sometime necessary to concede a trick to
create suit establishment eg. If declarer has 8 5 2 with A K 7 6 3 in Dummy and no other
entry, then after taking the Ace you may need to concede a trick to win the other three. Look at
this example
The contract is 3 No-trumps played by South.
Declarer has 8 winners. The best chance for the additional trick is to win four club tricks. If
declarer plays A K Q of clubs and the club split is 4-2, he/she will not make the additional club
trick. To overcome a 4-2 split, to be certain of the extra club trick, declarer must concede the
first club trick, so that he can use the second club in his hand, to get back to dummy to take the
remaining four club tricks.
Communication/ Entries/ Unblocking suits
It is vital that declarer can maintain communication with dummy at all times that dummy has
potential winners. It is therefore important to identify and maintain entries to the dummy hand.
Sometimes by playing too quickly to the opening lead, before thinking it through, a vital entry
to the dummy is lost. Defence will also be attempting to remove the entries; so careful
planning is essential. This will at times involve playing a higher card from declarer’s hand to
unblock the suit. A typical example is
If you play the 3 to the King which would seem the obvious thing to do, you will not be able to
make the fifth trick as Dummy’s lead of 5 will be blocked by declarers higher card.
Church Minshull Bridge Club 3.1
Beginners Class – session 3
Trump Contracts
Whereas in No-trump contracts the general plan is to count your winners, in a trump contract it
is better to count your losers and with more losers than you can afford draw up a plan to
eliminate some of your losers
The general rule is to draw trumps without delay unless you have a good reason not to do so. If
you decide that you need to ruff losers in Dummy, unless you have sufficient trumps to remove
the opposition trumps and still ruff in dummy, it is better to create your ruff before taking a
round of trumps. Otherwise your opponents will lead trumps to remove dummy’s ruffing
When drawing trumps it is vital to keep count of the missing trumps. If you are drawing
trumps, don’t draw the opposition trump if it is the highest remaining.
The key question is therefore when to draw trumps!
Take these two examples
Contract 4 Hearts by South
Lead K Clubs
J 10 8
With this hand there is 5 Heart winners, 4 Diamond winners, and 1 Club winner. A certain 10
tricks. You draw trumps immediately and then take your other winners. The golden rule is
always to take out the opposition trumps unless you have a reason not to do so.
Example 2
Contact 4 Hearts by South
Lead 3 Clubs
J 10 8
K 10 7 6 4
With this hand you have 4 heart winners, 4 diamond winners, and 3 club winners. Eleven
winning tricks but can you see the danger. If we play a trump that we lose to the Ace, the
opposition could take three winning spades and we would win only nine trick. The contract
would go down.
It is therefore important that we ‘get rid’ of a losing spades before we lose the lead. We do
that by playing our three club winners and discarding a losing spade. Therefore, in example 2
you have reason not to draw trumps immediately.
Ruffing in Shortest Hand.
The advantage of a suit contract is the benefit of ruffing shortages in other suits. If your
contract is dependant on ruffing you may have to delay drawing trumps, otherwise the
opposition may remove your trumps in your short hand before you have chance to ruff.
There is however an important point to understand. Ruffing in the hand with the shortest
trumps gains extra tricks, but ruffing in the hand with the longer tricks does not. Normally you
do not benefit from ruffing in your own hand if you have more trumps than dummy. Therefore
plan you winning ruffs in the shorter trump hand. Never trump in hand if it is likely to weaken
your trump control. It is better to discard a ‘loser’ from another suit (loser on loser principle).
Declarer playing techniques
The finesse
Finessing is taking advantage of the position of an opponent’s higher-ranking card to win the
trick with a low ranking card.
You can make two tricks if your LHO (Left Hand Opponent) has the king. You lead small from
declarer's hand towards the A Q. If LHO plays the king, you win with the ace; if he plays low,
you play the queen. Of course, if RHO has the king, this will not work. Expert players only
take a finesse if they must, because it only offers a 50/50 chance. There are some steps you can
take to maximise your chances of success.
• It is worth taking a little thought and considering the evidence from the bidding and play
to date to see if any possible alternative lines of play offer a better chance of success.
• If a finesse can be taken either way, delay taking it as long as is safely possible to gather
clues about which way to take it.
• Holding nine cards between dummy and declarer and missing the queen, in the absence of
otherevidence, the odds slightly favour playing the ace and king, hoping the queen
will drop, rather than trying the finesse
Some simple rules when finessing
1) Where possible lead high from hand to retain the lead, however to do so you must have
the card beneath.
J 10 7
Lead the Jack and if the King doesn’t fall follow with the Ten
1) Never finesse if by loosing the card you don’t promote a winner
A 10 9
Without the jack don’t lead the queen to the Ace. By doing so you are guaranteed to
lose the Queen. The correct play is lead low to the queen in which case you have 50%
chase of winning the trick
Avoidance/End Play
Whether playing in a trump contract or no-trump contract after a few round of play you will
recognise which of defender’s hands can do you most harm. Observe the play of the cards and
identify the danger hand and the safe hand and ensure that you place the lead in the latter. This
is called avoidance play. Avoid finessing into the danger hand.
Towards the end of play you will have a good idea as to where the cards locate and you can
often create a ruff and discard by placing the lead so that the opposition have no choice but to
provide you with additional tricks.
3.3iii Locating the missing cards
It is often helpful if one of the opposition overcall or double as it helps you identify the value of
each of the defenders hands. You can then locate the missing high cards by counting the values
played from each hand.
Church Minshull Bridge Club - Beginners Class – session 4
Defending a Contract - Introduction
Invariably when Bridge beginners have a poor hand with few points they loose some
interest and their concentration is reduced. However the ‘beauty’ of duplicate Bridge is
that you can be the winner when defending with even very few points. When the
opposition contract is easy for them to achieve, your task is to limit the number of tricks
they make and in doing so you can make yourself a top score.
These notes on Defender play are based on the full version of the game when the contract
has been established through a process of bidding. The bidding process gives you more
information about the opposition hands and also possibly your partner’s. This can help you
to decide what to lead and how to defend the contact. Whilst we are playing MiniBridge
we do not have that benefit and have to concentrate on what cards are being played.
Consider carefully your opening lead and immediately dummy’s hand goes on the table,
work out what you think partner has in both points and distribution.
The opening lead
A contract can often succeed or fail on the lead. The lead is therefore vitally important,
and therefore sometimes equally difficult to get it right.
There are two sorts of opening lead:
• Active - where we try to develop tricks straight away.
• Passive - where we try not to give away tricks because of the lead.
It is often said that in general we should make active leads against no trumps and passive
leads against suit contracts; but generalisations are dangerous, since each case is different.
The basic principle in choosing your opening lead is to listen carefully to what the bidding
tells you about partner's and the declaring side's hands. Put that together with what you
know about your own hand and decide which suit to lead. This is a matter of judgement
and improves with practice.
Having picked the suit you then decide which card to lead. From certain combinations we
always lead a particular card. These are known as standard leads ( see page 18) As partner
knows the standard leads too, he can make useful inferences about your holding from the
card you lead. Sometimes you will wish to lead a particular suit but your holding will be
such that it is more likely to help declarer than partner. Then you have to think again but
that doesn't alter the basic principle of choosing the suit first and then the card.
An extremely important point to note is that there is a difference between defending
against a no trump contract and a suit contract.
Leading against No-trump contracts
It is essential to listen to the bidding and use the clues it gives you in deciding which suit to
lead. Against no trump contracts the main considerations are:
• The suit bid by partner. If partner has bid, it is nearly always a good idea to lead
partner's suit.
• The suits not bid. In a no trump contract declarer is often weaker in the majors. We have
to assume opponents know what they are doing and if they had length in the majors, they
would be playing in a major suit contract. In the absence of any other clues it can be useful
to lead a major that has not been bid.
• The suits bid. Sometimes opponents appear to have bid all the suits. Think what the
bidding means and don't automatically be put off leading a suit bid by the opponents.
When all suits have been bid it is often bets to lead ‘dummies’ second suit.
• The distribution of points. If you pause to think, you can usually estimate how many
points partner holds. For example, if the bidding goes
North/South seem to have at least 25 points between them, maybe a few more. If you have
12 points, partner can have very little and the defence is going to rely on your strength. If,
on the other hand, you have only one or two points, your only contribution is likely to be
your opening lead - so make it tell! If you are very weak and partner seems to have most of
the defending side's strength then try to think of the lead that will most assist him rather
than trying to establish your own poor suit.
Leading fourth best
Leading the fourth card down is one of the standard leads. When a low card in an unbid
suit is led against a no-trump contract, the information it gives to partner is accessible by
applying a simple rule, which you need to know and apply (but have no need to
understand). It is called the rule of eleven. The rule works like this: subtract the pips on
the card led from eleven; the answer is the number of higher cards, (than the one led), in
the other three hands - your own, dummy and the unseen hand. Since you can see two of
the hands, you can work out how many cards higher than the one led are in the unseen
hand. For example: If West led a 7 and Dummy holds K 10 4 2 and you hold J 8 5 , you
can calculate that there is no card higher than 7 in declarer hand. This is done by
deducting the value of the card led from eleven, which would show that there are four
cards higher than seven in the remaining three hands.
Leading against a suit contract
The same considerations apply when you are choosing the lead against a trump contract
but the existence of a trump suit makes the choice of which suit to lead rather more
complicated. It is no use leading a low card from a long suit of your own in the hope of
establishing winners later. By then, declarer will have run out of the suit and just ruff your
winners. Winners need therefore to be established quickly. Suits headed by K Q J or Q J 10
are particularly attractive since they are safe as well as attacking. Safe because leading the
top of a solid sequence can never give declarer a trick he was not going to win anyway and
attacking because it goes a long way towards establishing tricks for the defence. As before,
if partner has bid, you need a good reason not to lead partner's suit.
Winning tricks by ruffing
Unless something has gone badly wrong with their bidding, declarer will have more and
better trumps than the defence. Declarer's plan will often be to draw the defenders' trumps
early in the play. Sometimes there is a chance of the defence winning a trick by ruffing
first. For that to happen, you have to become void in a suit and get partner on lead before
declarer draws trumps. There can therefore be a benefit from leading from a short suit.
Leading trumps
Inexperienced players sometimes think that only declarer should lead trumps. They are
wrong. A trump lead can be very effective, preventing declarer making his trumps
separately. One circumstance when a trump lead should be considered is when the bidding
indicates that declarer will need to make extra tricks by ruffing in the short hand. Another
time to lead a trump is when every other lead seems worse! You may not be doing your
side any good but at least you won't be doing harm. There are times to avoid a trump lead.
If you have only one trump, any strength in trumps your side has will be with partner and
you may kill partner's tricks. Never lead a small trump if you hold an honour. It gives
declarer a free finesse. Leading from two or three little trumps when you have no chance of
a ruff yourself is best.
Defenders play of the cards
Whenever you are on lead you should always play the higher of touching cards. E.g. if you
play a ten it denies a jack. However when you are following, ie playing to a card lead by
partner, you should always follow with the lower of touching cards. Ie a 6 denies the five.
Returning partners led suit.
You may win the first trick or you may win the lead later in the play. Unless you have good
reason to do otherwise, you should return partners suit and it is important you select the
correct card. If you holding was only two then the decision is taken for, but otherwise
indicate your length of suit by leading the highest remaining card if your original holding
was three and the lowest if your original holding was four.
Leading through strength, not towards strength
When on subsequent lead it is good practice to lead through strength and not towards
strength. You can see Dummy’s hand and you should therefore attempt to make declarer
play high in second position. You will also be protecting partner and making them happy
– a happy partner is a good partner! When leading through strength to dummy in last
position it is sometimes beneficial to chose a card higher than dummy to put further
pressure on declarer, but don’t do so if dummy is long in the suit.
Second player plays low and third Players plays high
As a defender it is a general rule that second player plays low and third player plays high.
Ie play a high card when your partner leads a low one. However the are always exceptions
to the rule and it is normal to cover an honour with an honour, unless the length of your
suit is sufficiently long for the King to come into its own
Forcing Declarer to Ruff in hand
Declarer can run into trouble by shortening the trumps in the long trump hand, and it is a
good tactic to force declarer to trump in his long suit, as they never make extra trick that
way. Remember you should never allow him/her to ruff in their short suit holding.
Cover an honour with an honour
An exception to the second card low ‘norm’ is when it is necessary to cover a led honour.
Only do so when your honour is certain to become a loser. Ie If a queen is led and you
have four to the King then you have sufficient cover for your king and can afford to play
What’s in Dummy
Never follow rules blindly. What is usual in principle can be changed when common sense
dictates otherwise. Make use of what you see in dummy.
The standard leads
First, decide which suit to lead and then select the right card in the suit. Standard leads are all
about telling your partner what cards you probably hold and, even more importantly, what
cards you certainly do not hold. Leading the queen would give the message that you do not
hold the king. The jack would deny holding the queen. However, put that same suit (K Q J 4) in
the hand of the partner on lead and the right action is reversed. A small card in the suit is led ...
the partner must play the jack. Playing the king would deny the queen. Playing the queen would
deny the jack.
You will appreciate that the card selected may differ, depending whether you are defending
against no trump contract or a suit contract. The objectives are different.
suit holding
Q J 10 4
J 10 9 4
} Attacking and safe
) against both suit
) and No Trump contracts
With only two touching honours, lead fourth highest
against a NT contract but against a suit be certain of one trick
K Q 10 2
two touching honours missing the next
holding the third honour or holding the nine
A J 10 4 2
K J 10 4 2
leading an Ace in a suit contract guarantees holding the King as well
Fourth highest in a NT contract seeking to establish the suit
whilst partner retains a card to return the lead
In a suit contact a King followed by an Ace shows a doubleton
10 2
The highest of a doubleton
Lead the lowest of a three card suit headed by an honour
With three worthless cards lead middle card, called mud
(middle, up down)
With four worthless cards lead the second highest
top of an interior sequence. Too likely to give a trick
away against a suit but an attractive, attacking lead against NT
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 5
Introduction to Bidding
5.1 The language of Bidding
Bidding is rather like being forced to talk a foreign language that has only a few words in its
vocabulary. We have to use the words efficiently to convey messages to partner or to ask
questions. Messages like:
• I have a good hand
• My hand is balanced
• I have very few points in my hand
• I have a long suit of spades
• should our side be playing in game?
• have you any extra values for your bidding so far?
These messages cannot usually be conveyed in one go, sometimes it takes several bids.
Without the necessary values to reach game in one deal, it is necessary to settle for a part score
There are several bidding systems in use but by far the most common system used within the
UK is ‘ACOL’, and that is the bidding system used in this learning programme.
How the bidding works
the dealer makes the first bid,
the player on the dealer's left bids next
the bidding goes clockwise round the table
each bid must outrank the last one made
a player who does not want to bid, says 'pass'
a bid is a number from one to seven, followed by a suit or no trumps
you say one no trump, but it is usually written 1NT;
The number in the bid indicates the number of tricks above SIX that the declarer will have to
try and make. The final bid in the auction sets the contract, so a contract of 2NT says that the
declarer has to make eight tricks in no trumps. Nine tricks in no trumps is game. So a contract
of 3NT. (a 'game bid',) means that the pair have contracted to make nine tricks playing in no
If all four players pass without making a bid on the first round the hand is 'passed out' and
there is no further play. When a player makes a bid on the first round, the auction
continues until there is a bid followed by three consecutive passes. The side that bids
higher sets the trumps and the number of tricks to be won. The member of the side who
first bid the suit that becomes trumps, or who bid no trumps, is the declarer, and plays the
Opening the Bidding – balanced hand
A balanced hand is one that has no void, no singleton, not more than one doubleton and no 6card on longer suit.
Opening the Bidding
To open the bidding you need to have at least 12 High card points. If your hand is
balanced with 12-14 high card points you will open 1 No-trump. With stronger balanced
hands you will open in a suit contract and rebid no-trumps and this will be covered in a
later section.
Opening 1 no-trump
An opening bid of one no trump shows a particular kind of hand. It says you have a
balanced hand with no 5-card major and with precisely 12-14 points.
The reason no 5-card major is allowed, although you are allowed a 5-card minor, is that it
is better to play in a major than in no trumps and so if you have a good holding in a major,
you want to tell partner about it.
Responses to 1 No-Trumps with a balanced hand
When partner bids 1 NT you know a lot about the hand that partner holds so it is up to you
to decide what to do on the hand. If you have enough points, you may be able to decide
straight away which contract to play. With thirteen or more points and a fairly balanced
hand, you can bid 3NT. Or if you really do have lots of points, say, more than twenty, you
might even bid a slam.
When partner has opened I NT and you too have a balanced hand, playing in no trumps will be
the best choice. Just add your points to partner's to see whether to bid game or even a slam.
0- 10
There probably isn't a better contract. Hope for the best.
11 - 12
2 NT Asks a question - see below.*
13- 18
we must have enough points to bid game.
With over 18 points there is a possibility for a slam (ie 12 or 13 tricks) but slam bidding will
come much later in the course.
*Responding with 11-12 points – you need to ask a question.
Suppose you have eleven or twelve points. Partner has promised twelve, thirteen or fourteen. If
partner has twelve then game - 3NT - is optimistic but if partner has fourteen then our side
should be playing in 3NT. You can ask partner how many points he has by bidding 2NT.
Partner bids 3NT with fourteen or a nice-looking thirteen points - say. a hand with a 5-card
minor or lots of tens and nines. Partner passes with a minimum, that is twelve or a poor
Notice you don't bid 2NT just because you think your side can make it! The score for 1NT bid
and made with an overtrick is identical to the score for 2NT bid and making eight tricks, that is
120 (40 + 30 for tricks and 50 for the part score bonus).
We reserve a bid of 2NT as a question, 'Exactly how many points have you got, partner? If you
have ten points and a balanced hand when partner opens 1NT, partner may well be able to
make eight tricks but you pass because there is little chance of a game.
Game raising responses on unbalanced hands
12-15 points
with a long minor, usually just try 3NT. Don't bid the suit.
12-20 points
3♥ 3 ♠ - But with a 5-card major offer partner a choice of 3NT
or game in the major suit you have bid. It is forcing, partner
must choose.
16-20 points
3♣3♦ A jump to 3♣ or 3♦ shows real interest in playing in a
minor suit. Normally it is a 6-card suit and an unbalanced or
very strong hand.
21 or more
With very strong hands, show your suit at the three level, and
then bid on to a slam.
4♥ 4♠ Shows a 6-card or longer major suit. Tells partner to
When opener bids 1NT you know he has 12-14 points and at least two cards in every suit. This
is because he is promising his hand has no voids or singletons and no more than one doubleton.
You also know he has at least twelve points - and no more than fourteen. You know a lot about
partner's hand and so it is up to you to decide what to do; you are the captain of the bidding.
With twelve or more points and an unbalanced hand, you want to bid game. You might argue
that if opener has just twelve points, your side will have only 24 points if you also have only
twelve points. However, if you have an unbalanced hand it should be enough because
unbalanced hands are always stronger in play.
With a 6-Card Major
If you have a 6-card or longer major suit and twelve or more points, bid four of your major. You
know you will find at least two hearts in opener's hand so that gives you the magic 8-card fit.
With a 5-Card Major
If you have a 5-card major and points for game bid three of your major. This is a game-forcing
bid, which means that partner must not pass; he must keep bidding until game is reached. With
just two cards in your suit, he will bid 3NT, knowing this is the best game whereas with three or
four cards in your suit he will raise it to game. Notice that a response of 3♥ is not weaker in
points than a response of 4♥. It is just saying you have fewer hearts and are asking partner, in
the light of this knowledge, to decide on the best game
5.5iii Bidding a Minor
Since it needs eleven tricks to make game in a minor, and since minor suits do not
score so well, you can jump to 3NT with a long minor and at least twelve points, fewer
if it is a very good suit. So bidding 3NT in response to partner's opening 1NT does not
always show a balanced hand.
Jump bids to 3♣ or 3♦show really unbalanced hands that are worried that 3NT may
not be the best place to play. Opener bids a new suit at the three-level to help you
decide or 3NT with stoppers in the other suits. With a suitable hand to play in your suit
opener will raise it to the four-level.
Weak responses with an unbalanced hand–
With a Dreadful hand
When you have very few points and partner bids 1 No-trump, you know the contract is
doomed. If you have a balanced hand you can do nothing but pass, but if you have a
long suit, bid your suit at the two-level. The weaker your hand the more important it is
for you to bid. Partner must pass and you will have to do your best to make eight
Clearly to make 1 no-trump you need to have almost half the points. Being able to see
dummy gives an advantage in the race for tricks but nonetheless, to have any chance
of succeeding, your partner needs somewhere near half the points.
With a better hand, - say up to eleven points, still not enough for game but with a
long/good suit - bid your suit. It will probably play better with your suit as trumps than
in no trumps.
What should opener do next?
When you have opened 1NT and your partner bids two of a suit, you simply pass. It
does not matter whether your partner is making a desperate attempt to rescue you from
a hopeless position or has quite a decent hand and every hope of making the contract, a
2-level bid following a 1 no-trump opening bid is to be treated as a weakness take-out
and always passed.
Church Minshull Bridge Club Beginners Class – session 6
Opening One of a Suit – and Responses.
Which suit do I bid?
Session 3 dealt with an opening balanced hand with 12-14 points, when 1 No-trump is
the opening bid. For any other hand with opening values of 12-19 points, start by
bidding your longest suit at the 1-level. It is the second bid, the rebid, which tells
partner much more detail about your holding, and whether you hand is unbalanced or
balanced but too strong for 1 no-trump. Unlike a 1NT opening, you haven't said all
you want to say and you will explain further with your next bid, your rebid.
Always Open your longest suit
It is an absolute rule of bidding that you always open with the longest suit in the hand.
For example, with all three of the hands below you should open 1♥.
♠A 10 9
♦A K J 6
♥ Q 10 8 4
♦ KJ6
♣ AJ5
Don't worry about the actual cards in the suit - aces and kings will take tricks whether
they are trumps or not, but small cards are much more likely to take tricks if they are
trumps. Note that your planned rebid in each case is different - with hand A you hope
to tell partner about your diamonds next time: on hand B you want to rebid your hearts
to show extra length; hand C is balanced so you will rebid in no trumps.
Hands quite often have two suits of equal length. In that case, open the higher ranking
one. In this way, the major suit will always get a mention first, so any fit will quickly
come to light and with two 5-card suits, you will find that you will usually be able to
describe the hand economically, showing the second suit with your rebid without
taking up extra bidding space.
There's just one exception to this rule - with four hearts and four spades, and a hand
too strong to open 1 NT, open 1♥. This isn't so hard to understand if you remember
that your priority is always to try and find a major suit fit. With two 4-card majors, you
will probably get a chance to bid only one of them - after that you will want to tell
partner about the essentially balanced nature of your hand by re-bidding in no trumps.
By opening 1 ♥, you leave room for partner to respond 1♠ with a 4-card holding, so
any spade fit won't be missed.
The only remaining shape to worry about is the 4-4-4-1. These hands are always
difficult to describe - they're not balanced, but there's no long suit. With these hands
one should open the middle of touching suits or if there is not three touching suits you
should open the suit below the singleton. It is not so obvious to see why the rule given
works, but experience has shown that this gives you the best chance of being able to
describe your hand and find a fit without going overboard. 'Touching', of course, refers
to the ranking of the suits, with spades highest and clubs lowest. So, for example:
♠ A 10 9 6
♠ Q 10 8 4 5
♠ 10
♦ Q 95 4
Open l♥,
Open l♥,
Open 1♦
Open 1♦
The middle of
The suit below
The suit below
The middle of
three touching
the singleton
the singleton
three touching suits
Don't worry about these hands too much for now - fortunately, they're not dealt too
Taking Account of Shape
It's worth noting at this stage that not all hands with the same number of points really
have the same strength. Which of the following hands, do you think will make more
♥ 105
♣ 10 7 5
A is much stronger than B, although both have fourteen high card points (this is often
shortened to HCP). This is because of the long suits, where the little cards are likely to
take tricks. You should bear this in mind when deciding whether a hand is worth an
opening bid. Hand C has only eleven HCP, but it is shapely and should be opened 1
Use the 'Rule of Twenty' to help you decide whether to open. It works as
follows - add together the number of cards in your two longest suits and add this total
to your high card points. If the total is twenty or more, you are worth an opening bid.
Hand A has six spades, five hearts, fourteen HCP, a total of 25 a good opening bid.
Hand B has four spades, three in a second suit, fourteen HCP, a total of 21, an opening
bid. Hand C has five spades, five diamonds, eleven HCP, a total of 21- so it can be
Responding to partners opening bid
To respond to partners opening bid you must have at least 6 points. When partner
opens one of a suit he is promising to have at most nineteen points and at least four
cards in the suit bid, so even if you have five points, your combined total can't be
enough for game. If partner is minimum you could have as few as a combined
seventeen - so it's definitely best to stop now! - Remember only make a response
with six or more points.
Finding a Fit
If partner opens a major suit and you have four cards in that suit, you've found your magic fit!
Don't look any further - no need to mention any other suit — the only question is how high to
bid. With your response you are not predicting how may tricks you think your side can make.
You are telling your partner your point count so that partner can then add his actual points to
the number you have said, and decide whether to go on to game. So with 6 or more points use
this table to decide up to what level bid
6-9 points
raise to 2 level
10-12 points raise to 3 level
13+ points
raise to 4 level (game)
With thirteen or more points opposite partner's twelve plus, you know you have enough for
game, bid it!
For example:
♠ Q 10 9 4
♥ A Q 10
with this hand, when partner opens 1♠, bid 4♠.
you know you have the values for game and you have
found an 8-card major suit fit, so the job is done.
Here are some more examples
with this hand respond 2♠ to partners 1♠ opening
Raise your partners 1♥ opening bid to 3♥
♥ 10 9 7 6
Don’t mention spades; as you have already
found a fit
Pass - when partner opens 1♠ you must
♥ J 10 5
pass with less than 6 points.
♦7 6
Taking Account of shape as a responder - Distribution points
When you have found a fit with partner, it's not so much long suits that are
important, as short ones. Take a look at these two hands - which do you think
looks more powerful when partner opens 1♥
♠ J95
♥ A 10 7 3
♠ J9654
♥ A 10 7 3
Hand B is significantly better. With five spades you may be able to set up
winners in the suit, but much more important is your shortage in diamonds. This
means that your opponents won't be able to take more than one trick in the suit
because you can ruff their high cards. When you have a void – no cards in a suit
- you can win the first round by ruffing if the opponents lead that suit, so it is
roughly worth the same as an ace. Similarly, a singleton is worth approximately
the same as a king. You can take these values into account when deciding how
far to raise partner, but remember they apply only after you've discovered a fit.
So, with hand A you should simply raise to 2♥, but hand B is worth a raise to
3♥. So when you have fit you can add ‘distributional points’ as distinct from
A void is worth 5 points; and a singleton is worth 3 points, and a doubleton 1
The Exception
In Bridge one of problems is the ‘exception to the rule’ – and there are many of
them! One of the exceptions concerns the support of partners suit. If partner
opens in a minor suit and you have a 4-card major suit, bid the major first.
Partner will rebid to describe his/her hand more fully and you can then decide
whether to support partners original minor suit and at what level.
Consider this example:
♠ A 10 8 2
♦A Q J 9 6
Your side can make game in spades or diamonds. Play in spades - it scores higher. With
the hand shown above, partner would open ♦. This doesn't say he hasn't a 4-card major,
just that diamonds are his longest suit. Therefore, don't rush to support partner's minor.
Bid your major, 1♠, and give partner a chance to support your major.
Responding in a different suit
With 6 or more points and no support for partner's suit (or if partner's suit is a minor and you
have a major), bid your own suit. When you have a choice of suits as responder, the rules are:
• bid your longest suit first
• with two 5-card or two 6-card suits, bid the higher ranking suit first
• with two 4-card suits, bid the cheapest suit first.
Cheapest means the lowest available bid over partner's bid which is not necessarily the same as
the lower ranking suit. For example, suppose partner opens 1 ♥ and you have four spades and
four clubs, 1 ♠ is a cheaper bid than 2♣.
Bidding at the two level
To change suit at the two level you must have at least 9 points.
If you raise the bidding to the two-level by, for example, bidding 2♥ over partner's 1♠ opening,
you are committing the partnership to making eight tricks without knowing whether you have a
fit. To do this, you need to be sure you have a bit of extra strength. Therefore, you do not bid a
new suit at the two-level without at least nine points.
Responding 1 No-trump
Responding 1 No-trump shows 6-8 points. This is often described as the ‘rubbish bin’
response. I.e. it is saying “I have nothing else I can bid”. It is a bid which tells partner
you have some points but not enough to change the suit at the two level. It says:
• I have fewer than four cards in your suit so I cannot support it
• I have at least six points
• I am not strong enough to bid my own suit at the two-level
• I have no suit I can bid at the one-level.
Note 1NT response to partner's one of a suit opening bid is quite different to opening
INT. An opening bid of 1NT guarantees a balanced hand, a 1NT response does not.
No trump responses to an opening bid
1NT = 6 - 8 may not be balanced
2NT= 10/11 balanced hand
3NT =13 -15 balanced hand
6.xii Responding with balanced with over 10 points
A response of 2 no-trumps shows 11-12 points and 3 no-trumps shows 13 -15 points.
However, as you have over 9 points it is usually better to show your best suit at the 2-level, to
allow your partner to rebid and describe their hand more fully before you take the bidding too
6. xiii
Responding with a very strong hand
If you are responding in a different suit from the one with which partner opened, it means you
have not yet found that magic 8-card fit or are still hunting for a fit in a major before settling
for playing in a minor or no trumps. Therefore, it is inadvisable to push hard up the bidding
ladder. It might turn out that you and partner have a misfit, and such hands never make as many
tricks as their points would suggest. Even if you have an opening hand and partner has opened,
so you are sure there must be a game on somewhere, to keep the bidding low gives you and
partner as much bidding room as possible to arrive at the best possible final contract. However,
with a really strong hand with a very good suit you can tell partner this by jumping in your own
suit, for example partner opens I ♣ and you bid 2♥. It says you have at least sixteen points
and a powerful suit with at least five cards. This is called a jump shift and is obviously a rare
bid. It is forcing to game. That means the partnership is committed to going to at least a game
and neither one may pass until a game has been bid. It also suggests that a slam may be
possible. Slam bidding will be studied in detail later in the course.
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 7
Openers Rebid
Opener’s Rebid
It is often said that opener’s rebid is the most important bid of the auction
When you open the bidding with one of a suit, partner will make one of the following
pass - this says he has fewer than six points so there is little chance of a
Show support for your suit or a bid of 1NT - both of which are limit
bids. When partner makes a limit bid it is up to you to determine
whether game is possible. You can pass if you want to.
Bid a new suit. You then know that partner has a minimum of 6 points.
You also know that partner’s longest suit, but you don’t know the
strength of partners hand, and you are in no position to decide the final
contract so you must bid again. In other words, responder's change of
suit bid is forcing.
At this stage you both have limited knowledge about each other’s had.
All he knows about your hand is that you have somewhere between
twelve and nineteen points and at least four cards in the suit you bid.
Partner can no more decide on the right final contract than you can.
Therefore, if partner bids a new suit you must bid again to give
partner more information.
Strength and Shape
It is opener's second bid that gives much more information about the strength and
shape of his hand. Hands that have sixteen points or more are strong opening hands
whilst hands with fourteen points or fewer are weak opening hands. Since partner’s
change of suit forces you to bid again, it is a good tactic to know what your second bid
will be before you make your first. If you do not appear to have one, you probably
should be opening INT.
Priority of Openers Second Bid
If your partner has replied to your opening bid by bidding his or her own suit, you
must rebid. The priority of rebids is as follows
support partners change of suit with 4-card support. With a minimum
opening hand of 12-15 points merely raise a level. With 16-18 points
raise by jumping level and with 19 points jump 2-levels which will
normally be a game bid.
If you have no fit in partners suit, and a balanced hand rebid no-trumps.
With 15/16 points bid no-trumps at the lowest possible level; with
17/18 points jump a level and with 19 points bid game ie 3 no-trumps.
With an unbalanced hand and no fit with partner, bid your second 4card suit. Bidding a second suit will also signify to your partner that
you have 5 cards in your first suit. When you bid a second suit you
may also give a stronger indication of the strength of your hand.
Bidding a second suit of a higher ranking than your first is called ‘a
‘reverse’ and shows 16+ points. If you don’t have 16 points you must
not bid above ‘your barrier’ which is your original suit bid at the 2level.
Rebid your original suit. A rebid of your original suit at the 2-level
shows 12-15 points and at the 3-level 16-19 points. Note you must
have a 5-card suit to bid it twice.
Some examples
You opened 1 Heart and you partner responded 1 spade. With 4-card support
for partner's suit and 13 points you should bid the suit at the lowest available
level. Clearly you have found a fit so this should be your preferred bid.
♦8 4
♣ Q 10
Here you opened 1 heart and you partner responded 1 NT. If you are
unbalanced with no second 4-card suit you need to rebid you which tells
partner you have at least 5 cards in the suit. By rebidding at the lowest
available level you are telling partner you have under 16 points:
♦8 4
♣ Q 10 4
With a second 4-card suit you can bid a new suit lower ranking than the first,
or any suit at the one-level, thus offering partner a choice between your suits.
♦8 4
♣ Q 10 4 2
You may only pass if partner has supported your suit, bid NT or already
♦8 4
♣ Q 10
Opener's rebid with a strong hand 16 + points
When you open the bidding with one of a suit, you create an artificial ‘barrier’ at two
of that suit. You should only bid above that barrier if you have a good hand (16+
points) or if you have found a fit. If you open 1♦ there is a barrier at 2♦. You may
only bid above the barrier if you have a good hand or a fit with partner.
So an auction like
1♦ - 1♠;
is not strong. It shows a minimum opening with at least five diamonds and
four clubs.
However a bid of 2♥
i.e. 1♦ - 1♠;
would be strong because it is a new suit above the barrier. Bidding a new suit over the
barrier promises that your first suit is longer than you second suit and that you have at
least 16 high card points. This is called a reverse and forces your partner to bid again.
The reason why this shows a strong hand is that if partner prefers to support your first
bid suit knowing it is your longest, they may have to bid at the three-level, committing
to nine tricks. Clearly you must have a strong hand if you are prepared to play at that
level. Be careful not to reverse by accident!
Jump and change the suit.
The strongest re-bid you can make. You would normally do this when your second suit
is lower ranking than your first suit. This commits the partnership to game - in other
words it is game forcing. The bid is called a jump shift.
♦A Q 10 7 3
Bidding strong balanced hands
Strong balanced hands are shown by first bidding a suit (every hand has at least one 4card suit), and then re-bidding no trumps. This shows a balanced hand too strong to
open I No Trump. The number of rungs up the bidding ladder tells exactly how strong
your hand is:
With 15 or 16 points, rebid No trumps at the lowest available level. This might
be 1NT, 2NT or even 3NT, depending on partner's response. If partner has
responded to your opening bid at the 1 level, with 15-16 points you should bid
1 no-trump. If partner has bid at the 2 level bid 2 no-trumps. Both bids
describe your hand as 15-16 points and balanced.
With 17 or 18 points rebid no-trumps by jumping a level.
If partner responded to your opening bid at the 1 level bid 2 no-trumps
If partner responded at the 2 level bid 3 no-trumps
With 19 points rebid 3 no-trumps
Putting this together with what was learned earlier about opening 1NT, you will see
that, within one or two bids, you can tell partner your shape and points.
This puts partner in a good position to judge the final contract.
Balanced hands with twenty or more points have special bids to warn partner that you
have at least half the points in the pack in your hand and so will need less than usual
from him to bid game. These bids will be covered later in the course.
Limit Bid
As opener you should attempt to make a limit bid as early as possible within the
Auction. This enables partner to establish whether you can reach a game contract or
otherwise agree the contract at the lowest possible level
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 8
Looking for the Best Contract
8.1 Responder’s second bid
Partners opening bid of one of a suit shows 12-19 points and a four-card suit. This is a
wide ranging bid, and if you respond showing at least six points, partners rebid will tell
you much more about the hand, often enabling you to decide the best final contract.
8.2 Let us look at the alternatives.
If partner rebids No-trumps at the lowest level we know that he/she has 15/16 points and a
balanced hand. You now need to add your points and decide whether to bid game.
Similarly if partner rebids no trumps by jumping a level you know that he/she has 17/18
points, again you add your points to determine whether to bid game.
If partner rebids a second suit it shows at 5 least 5 cards in the first suit and at least 4 cards
in the second suit. If the second suit bid takes partner over his/her barrier (ie he/she has
reversed) then he/she is showing 16+ points. You know ask yourself the question (i) do we
have a fit in either suit and (ii) do we have points for game.
If you still have no fit then the contact may be in No-trumps providing you can cover the
other two suits. By Bidding 2 no-trumps you are showing cover in the other suits and 1112 points. With 13+ points and cover in the other two suits bid 3 no-trumps (ie game)
8.3 Let us study an example in detail.
Suppose you have:
♣ 10 6 2
When partner opens the bidding with 1♠, YOU know there must be a game somewhere
because you have fourteen points and partner is promising at least twelve. At this stage it
could be spades or hearts or NT. You respond 2♥, telling partner you have at least four
hearts and at least nine plus points. Partner rebids 2♠ so you know he has no more than a
poor fifteen points and at least five cards in spades. Now you can support spades because
it has become clear that you must have at least eight spades between you, and since you
already know the partnership has the points for game, it is up to you to bid it.
Remember, your partner cannot know how many points you have - all he knows is that you
have at least nine. If you are timid and pass 2♠ or just bid 3♠, partner will think you are
weaker and may pass too. You will lose the game bonus that should be yours and partner
will not be pleased!
8.4 Making a Choice –preference bid
If partner bids two suits and you decide that you don’t have sufficient values for game, you will
need to decide which of partner’s suits is likely to be the best contract. If you pass you are
effectively choosing the suit he bid second. Partner will always open with his longest suit, you
should therefore only make this choice i.e. pass, if your support for his second suit is
substantially better than your support for his first. Conversely, if you opened the bidding and
partner supported your suit on his second bid, don’t get excited and see this as real support he is
merely giving preference. Both alternatives may be equally awful and he is just choosing the
one that may be less painful.
e.g Suppose you open l♥ and your partner has this hand
♠ 10 9 7 6 4
He will respond 1♠. If opener now bids 2 diamonds, responder is offered two suits, neither
of which he can really support. He should bid 2♥ because your hearts are the suit opener
bid first and is therefore the longest suit. If the two suits are equal then at least hearts have
the advantage of being a major.
Of course, with a good suit responder can reject the choice and continue to bid their own
suit. For example, if responder has the hand below and the bidding goes:
♠ A K 10 9 6 5
Responder would be justified in rebidding spades rather than supporting partner's hearts or
diamonds, as the spades suit is a good 6-card suit. Always remember though, that partner's
support for your suit may be as bad as your support for his.
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 9
The Competitive Auction
Why overcall?
An overcall is when you make a bid after the opponents have opened the bidding. Just
because they opened the bidding it doesn’t mean that they have to play the contract.
• Your side may have more points.
• Your side may have the better suit.
Also you need to remember that Bridge is about winning points not tricks. Your aim is
to maximise the points gained when you have a good hand and to minimise your losses
when you have a poor hand. Therefore, if opponents make eight tricks in 2 hearts, you
will score minus 110. If you can make seven tricks in spades, you will score better if
you bid 2 spades and go one off. Don't expect to make all your contracts.
The main reasons for overcalling are:
• to try to win the contract
• to make it harder for opponents to reach their best contract or to force them to
a higher level
• to help partner with the defence to an opposing contract.
What strength do you require to overcall?
A simple suit overcall signifies 10-15 points and a 5-card suit.
To open the bidding you normally need at least 12 points. Surprisingly an overcall
may be made on as little as ten points, but you must have a good 5-card or longer suit.
That difference is because the reasons for overcalling are different from the reasons for
opening the bidding. When opponents open the bidding, they have started to exchange
information. You can't stop them but you can get in the way. You do this by entering
the auction and taking away some of their bidding space.
You won't always overcall on a hand that would have opened the bidding. In particular
a hand that would have opened 1NT should always pass the opponent's opening bid.
The scattered values are more useful in defence when sitting over the opening bidder.
You only need six tricks to beat a two-level contract, but you need to make eight tricks
as declarer! What is important is having a good suit, one that you would really like
partner to lead should your side defend. A good suit normally has at least two honours,
often more. The small cards can make a difference; K Q 4 3 2 is not as good a suit as
K Q 10 9 8.
The maximum point count for a simple overcall is about 15 HCP; with more points
there is often a better bid available.
A 1 no-trump overcall is stronger than a 1 no-trump opening hand and represents 1618 points and at least 1 stopper in the suit bid.
Responding to Overcalls
This is more straightforward than responding to an opening bid.
• To overcall you partner must have 5 cards in the suit bid and partner can therefore
support with only three cards of the suit and should raise the overcall on the same
values as you would raise an opening bid. However as a simple overcall shows a
maximum 15 hcp, with under 10 points partner would pass, as there is not
sufficient points in the combined hands for game.
• To respond in no-trumps , you need a little more than when responding to an
opening bid, as your partner in overcalling be a bit weaker. You must also have a
good guard in the opponent's suit. A 1NT response shows about 9-12 points and a
2NT response 13-14. The easy way to remember is that when responding to an
overcall you bid 1 level lower than responding to an opening bid.
• To bid a new suit opposite an overcall you need a good suit - six cards or five very
good ones and you would normally only change the suit if your partners overcall
suit is a minor and you have a good major suit, and 10 plus points. The bid is
encouraging but not forcing, so partner may leave you to play in your suit.
Responding to 1 no-trump overcall
Simply respond as you would to a 1 no-trump opening hand, but take into account that
your partner has about 4 points more.
How should Openers Partner bid after a 1NT overcall
Following a 1 no-trump overcall bid, opener's partner may modify his response to take
account of the overcall.
• pass, with less than about eight points and no support for opener and no good suit.
• when raising openers suit remember that your right-hand opponent has announced
values in the suit partner opened, so you don't have to bid just because you have 4card support for partner.
• with 10+ points you may consider doubling for penalties. Your partner will normally
have at least 12 points, so your side should have at least 22 points. As partner did
not open 1NT, partner may be a bit stronger than 12-14. Partner is not obliged to
pass and can remove the double with a weak distributional opening.
• Alternatively, if you consider that the overcall may succeed, bid naturally by
bidding a new suit which would show 6-10 points and a 6-card or very good 5-card
suit – but the change of suit in these circumstances would be non forcing.
9.6 Double!
Two basic types of double are commonly used; the penalty double which asks partner
to pass and is used when the opponents have bid to a contract which you are confident
will fail, and a Take-out Double which asks Partner to Bid. As the meanings are
opposite, you must know when partner’s double is for take-out and when it is for
A double is normally for penalties if :
It is a double of a no-trump bid. A double of 1 no-trump signifies 16+ points,
which partner will pass if he/she believes you can defeat the contract or bid
their longest suit as a weakness take with very few points. Ie under 4 points.
It is a double at the three level or higher.
A Take-out Double is a double of a suit bid at the one or the two level.
Take-out Double
A take out double is used when you have an opening bid but the opposition open the
bidding before you have the chance to do so. A double of an opening bid says to
I have an opening hand
I have a shortage in the suit bid
I am prepared to play in whichever suit you bid. (You therefore need at least
three in each of the unbid suits).
Responding to a take-out double
If there is a response by the opposition to the opening bid, the double is ‘taken out’
and may be passed.
If opener’s partner does not respond to the opening bid and your partner has doubled
you must bid your longest suit. ( even with no points)
What do you bid? - Suppose the bidding goes
1diamond double
0-8 points, - bid your longest suit at the minimum level
9-12 points - bid your longest suit jumping a level
A bid of 1NT shows 6-9 points and one stop in diamonds
A bid of 2NT shows 10-12 points and two stops in diamonds
A bid of 3NT shows 13-15 points and two stops in diamonds
A bid of 2 Diamonds is showing 12+ points and is asking for more information
As you are obliged to respond, even with no points at all, you must jump with real
points and a real suit. A good rule of thumb is to imagine that partner had opened the
bidding in your best suit. If you would have made a jump limit raise, you should make
one now. Prefer to bid a major suit if possible.
The last option, a bid of the enemy suit is another example of a conventional bid. Lefthand opponent opens 1 diamond, partner doubles and right hand opponent passes. Our
hand is surprisingly good. Surely we can make game in one of the majors, but which
one? A good example is the following hand
10 5
How do we make sure we play in our best suit? The solution is to bid 2 diamonds (the
enemy suit) This bid has no purpose in a natural sense; if you were very strong in
diamonds you would have bid no trumps or passed the double. So, 2 diamonds simply
asks partner to choose. It is forcing, in other words neither partner may pass until they
have shown a fit or reached game.
Action by Openers Partner
If your partner opens the bidding and the next person - your right hand opponent doubles, on the whole you should bid what you were going to. Just note that partner
gets another chance to bid so you can pass on a poor six or seven points.
Also, when you have a fit it pays to get your retaliation in first. The more cards you
have in one suit, the more likely it is that opponents have a fit also. So both sides may
be able to make a high level contract and you want to make it harder for the opponents
to find theirs. That means you should shade your raises a little.
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 10
Opening with Strong Balanced Hands
2 NT opening bid
With 20-22 High Card Points and a balanced hand open 2NT.
Responses to a 2 No-trump Opening Bid
An opening bid of 2NT is not forcing, because it is a limit bid, but you need only about four
points to push on to game.
Any response to 2 no-trumps is forcing ie opener must bid again. With four or more points and
a balanced hand raise partner's 2NT to 3 NT.
Alternatively, with an unbalanced hand you can look for game in a suit contract. Partner must
have at least two cards in every suit and may very well have a three or four card major. Thus,
with enough points for game and with a:
• 5-card major - bid 3 of your major telling partner to choose between 3NT, (with two cards in
your major), or four of your major with 3-card or better support.
• 6-card major - bid four of your major directly as partner must have at least two cards in your
suit for his opening bid.
In a later lesson we will introduce a convention, which is called Stayman, which enables
responder to enquire whether partner has a 4-card major, but at this stage with sufficient
points, a 4-card major, and a balanced hand, bid 3 no-trumps.
With a 5-card or longer minor, it is usually best to play in 3NT.
10.3 Opening with a Balanced Hand
Putting together what has been learned in this lessons with that of previous lessons, you can see
that a balanced hand can always be described to partner in one or two bids and that the first or
second bid is always a limit bid. This passes the responsibility for deciding the contract to
partner who knows your point count and shape of hand.
Remember that when you are too good for 1NT you open your longest suit, showing preference
for a major suit if you have two 4 card suits.
Balanced hand
12-14 HCP
Open INT.
15-16 HCP
Open a 4+card suit then rebid NT at the lowest available level.
17-18 HCP
Open a 4+card suit then rebid NT with a jump. This might be 2NT
or 3NT, depending on partner's reply.
19 HCP
Open a 4+card suit then bid 3NT.
20-22 HCP
Open 2NT.
Bidding very strong hands with even more than 22 points is dealt with in lesson 11
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 11
Strong Unbalanced Hands
11.1 Opening with a strong unbalanced hand
An opening bid of one of a suit promises a hand with at least four cards in the suit mentioned
and between 12-19 points. It is a wide ranging bid and much more detail is shown by opener's
second bid. Partner only responds with 6 or more points.
Occasionally you may have an hand which is so strong that game may be reached even when
partner has less than 6 points. In these situations you need to make a bid which forces partner
to respond even with less than six points. These hands we open two of a suit.
11.2 The Two Club Opening Bid – the strongest opening bid
An opening bid of 2 clubs is the most powerful bid you can make. It says you have a hand with
which you are likely to make game with almost no help from partner. It is normally described
as a hand with 23+ points. However, sometimes a hand with fewer points is so strong in
playing strength that it is worth opening two clubs. The real meaning of the bid is to indicate to
partner that the hand is so strong that it is likely to achieve game even with almost no help.
Example 1
Here you have 24 points. You have only seven tricks immediately
but with only a little help from partner, who you hope has a few of
the remaining 15 points, you should be able to make 3NT.
The 2-club opening bid is a conventional bid that says nothing about how many clubs you have
and is therefore absolutely forcing (i.e. you must respond – even with no points).
11.3 Responses when Partner Bid 2 clubs
If your partner opens two clubs, your first duty is say how many points you have. With less
than eight points bid two diamonds. Again, this is conventional and says nothing about your
holding in diamonds: it is a device to say to your partner that your hand is weak and that a slam
is unlikely. Any other reply is positive and shows eight points or more. With 8 or more points
bid your best 5-card suit or, if balanced, bid 2 NT.
11.4 Openers Rebid
A rebid of 2 No-trumps will show a balanced hand of 23/24 points, which partner will raise to
game with only two points, but may be passed if the two diamond bidder has no points at all. A
bid of 3NT after a two diamond reply shows a balanced hand with 25 or 26 points.
After the first round of bidding, which establishes how many points you have between you, the
bidding proceeds naturally. If opener rebids a suit, responder must rebid even when very weak.
With a very weak hand responder will rebid 2NT as his second bid, saying no points and no
suit! This is sometimes referred to as a second negative bid. This leaves opener to decide
whether to close the bidding at the lowest possible level or bid to game.
Often when the bidding starts with two clubs, the auction leads to a slam. Bidding slams is
something we shall cover in a later lesson.
11.5 Opening 2 of a Suit
An opening bid of two diamonds/ hearts/ spades is used to show hands that are strong in points,
though not strong enough to open two clubs, and have lots of shape. Opener is saying that he is
so strong that he can afford to waste a level of bidding to get that strong message over to
partner. He is also demanding a second bid because an opening bid of two spades, two hearts or
two diamonds is forcing for one round - partner must respond. Strong two bids are used with
two types of hand:
11.5.i Hands with eight playing tricks based on a really strong suit.
Playing with a trump suit, shape can have as big an influence on the number of tricks that can
be made. In assessing whether a hand is strong enough to open two of a suit, we don't just
consider points but count how many playing tricks it has. A hand with eight playing tricks is
worth a two of a suit opening bid. Often, such hands will have around twenty points but
sometimes it can be a bit less. The suit will always be at least a 5-card suit and often longer.
11.5.ii Strong hands not good enough to open two clubs
These hands are not strong enough to bid two clubs and don’t contain 8 winning tricks
but are too strong to open at the one level. They usually consist of 20-22 points but are the
wrong shape to open 2NT.
An example of such hand is as follows
A K J 10 6
A Q 10 7
This hand is not strong enough to open 2 clubs and partner might easily
pass 1 spade when a game is makeable. Remember that when you have
a strong hand, it is much more likely that partner will not be strong
enough to bid freely and will not realise the value of his few points
Open 2 spades and rebid 3 hearts.
11.6 strong club suited hands
By using an opening bid of two clubs as conventional to show an extra strong hand of 23+
points , it means we cannot use it to show a strong hand with a good club suit. With a
strong unbalanced hand with clubs, you have to decide between opening I Club, which may
be an underbid, and 2 Clubs, which may be an overbid or even 2NT, for which the hand
might be the wrong shape. Choose the least worst option
11.7 How to respond when partner opens two of a suit
An opening bid of two of a suit is forcing for one round. This means you must bid however
poor your hand is. Your first responsibility is to show partner what strength you have. 2NT is
the negative response and it shows fewer than eight points. It does not say anything about
whether or not you support partner's suit or your shape. It just says you have a weak hand of
under eight points.
• All other responses are positive and forcing to game. As before, this means neither person
can say 'Pass' until a game contract has been called.
• With more than eight points ie showing a positive response, always support partner's
suit if you can, especially if it is a major. A 3-card suit or even a 2-card suit with an honour is
enough. A double raise shows about 10 HCP with support and no first round controls - that is
no aces or voids. It thus tends to deny any interest in a slam and indicates to partner that if he
wishes to proceed to a slam, he must provide the necessary controls himself. With more than
10 points and first round controls bid three of the suit indicating slam interest,
Q J 94 2
Thus, with the hand shown, you would raise partner's 2 Heart opening Hearts
bid to 4 Hearts. Game is very likely but that is the limit of your
with a distinct lack of first round controls.
A single raise is constructive and unlimited but promises at least one
first round control and thus suggests at least the possibility of a slam.
With this hand, you would reply 3 hearts to partner's opening bid of
2 hearts
If you have over 8 points but not even the limited support for partner needed to raise
partners suit – Bid you own suit.
A minimum bid of your own suit promises at least 8HCP and a 5-card
suit. A jump bid shows a solid, self-supporting suit with at least six
cards. Partner opens 2 Hearts; you bid 3Diamonds.
Bid 3NT. With no 5-card suit of your own and no support for partner but with about 10
HCP bid 3NT, especially if partner opens a minor.
Partner opens two Hearts you bid 3 NT
Openers Rebid
A 2-level opening bid is forcing and from partners response, opener will need to
decide whether to
close the bidding at the lowest possible level
bid to game
explore the possibility of a slam
Church Minshull Bridge Club
Beginners Class – session 12
Pre-emptive bids
What is a pre-emptive Bid?
A pre-emptive bid is one that skips two or more levels of bidding. It is normally made on the
first round of bidding, usually with an opening bid at the level of three, but sometimes at the
four level or even five. Its purpose is to take away the opponents' bidding space and force them
to speculate at an uncomfortably high level.
It can also be a constructive bid in telling partner about the type of hand you hold. !
Requirements to Pre-empt
Since a pre-empt is designed to steal the opponents' contract or to make it harder for them to
reach their best contract, it follows that your hand must be much better in playing strength than
in defence. So you need:
• a long, strong suit, normally at least seven cards
• few defensive tricks - certainly not as many as two aces
• no side 4-card major suit (because of the risk of missing an alternative better contract)
• no more than 10 points, unless partner is a passed hand
How high should you pre-empt
You want to bid as high as you dare without risking a large penalty. A good rule of thumb is to
expect to go down no more than three tricks in your contract if you are not vulnerable, and no
more than two tricks if vulnerable, with a worthless dummy opposite. This is known as the
'Rule of 500', meaning that if you were doubled you would lose no more than 500 points.
To assess how many tricks your long suit is worth, imagine that partner has a singleton and the
opposing cards divide according to expected probabilities (Five missing cards will usually
divide 3-2, but four missing cards are more likely to be 3-1).
Responses to a Pre-empt
The first rule is that you don't rescue the pre-emptor, even if you have a void in the suit bid.
When deciding whether to raise, don't worry about your trumps - partner has a good long suit.
Count the tricks you can offer. Aces and kings are valuable; queen and jacks probably are not.
Whether you should raise opener to game will depend upon how many tricks you have in your
hand and whether you are vulnerable. If vulnerable, opener is showing you seven winning
tricks. With three winning tricks of your own, you have sufficient to bid game in a major suit
contract. When not vulnerable opener will be weaker and you will need four winning tricks to
reach a major suit game contract.
Diamonds K Q 3
If partner opens 3 spades, you have a clear cut
raise to 4 spades whether your side is vulnerable
or not
Bidding another suit or No-trumps
You should only try 3NT if:
EITHER you can see nine tricks in your own hand OR you
have a fit for partner and can guard all the other suits.
Don't be tempted to bid 3NT because you have the other suits and are short in partner's suit.
Partner's pre-empt shows little outside his suit, so how will you enter his hand to run his long
Sometimes responder will have such a good hand that it is right to investigate alternative game
contracts. Therefore a new suit by responder is natural and forcing if bid below game level - it
should normally be at least a strong 6-card suit so the opener needs little in the suit to support.
It is often the case that if one hand is very long in a single suit, the other three hands have
similar distribution. If you partner opens with a 3 level minor suit and you have a strong long
major suit bid game in your suit.
Pre-emptive Overcalls
A double jump overcall when your right hand opponent has opened is also a pre-empt. For
1 Diamond
3 spades
1 Heart
4 clubs
You will have exactly the same sort of hand as for a pre-emptive opening bid. When both
opponents have already bid, a pre-empt is less likely to be effective.
12.7 Defence to opponents' three level pre-empts
When the opposition make a pre-empt opening bid, defenders objective is to either penalise
opponents who have overreached, or reach their own best contract. The problem is that the two
objectives can rarely be reconciled.
Recommended defence to pre-empts
Most modern expert partnerships have decided to concentrate on the latter - that is to reach
their best contract. The simplest and most effective defence is to use natural overcalls and
takeout doubles.
Because you are bidding at the three or four level, you need to have a stronger hand than is
needed to bid over an opening bid of one of a suit. But because the pre-emptor will be weak,
and short in the other suits, partner is more likely to have some useful cards. As a general guide
you may:
• overcall on a 6-card suit or a very good 5-card suit and values for an opening bid
• jump to game with good points and a strong suit. usually a 7-card suit or longer.
• make a takeout double on any hand worth an opening bid and support for the
other three suits - you may not always have the ideal shape, but support for an
unbid major suit is important.
• bid 3NT on a hand you would have overcalled 1NT (at least 16 points) over an
opening bid of one of a suit. 3NT will often be the best choice on stronger hands
too and also on some other hands which might make lots of tricks.
It follows that with values to spare, say about eight playing tricks, you should take the strain off
partner and bid game yourself if you can. You should assume you’re your partner has about
seven points when you choose what to bid. Equally, your partner must remember you have
made this assumption.
After a 4-level or Higher pre-empt
Now you have even less room for manoeuvre. A double is still for takeout but it shows good
defensive high cards too (aces and kings). Partner is more likely to leave the double in without
a long suit to bid. A double of 4 Hearts should always have support for spades, as 4 spades is
your most likely game contract. A double of 4 spades is a good hand and is normally left in for
penalties unless the doubler's partner has a long suit.
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 13
13.0 Popular Conventions
A conventional bid is a bid that ‘does not mean what it says’, and has a special meaning to your
The are many different conventions in use, which over time, you may decide to add to your bidding
armoury. There are however, five simple conventions that are almost an integral part of the ACOL
bidding system, which will help to make your bidding easier.
Two of these conventions are used to exploring the possibility of a slam.
What is a Slam?
A small slam is when you bid and make twelve tricks, and a grand slam is when you bid and
make thirteen tricks. Very large bonuses are earned when you make a slam but only when they
are bid. It is important therefore that any slam opportunities are not missed.
13.ii What is needed to bid a slam?
To bid a slam you require either:
• Lots of points - a small slam in no-trumps needs at least 33/34 HCP and for a grand slam you
will need 37+
• Good shape and strong suits - points are only a guide to the value of a hand and a slam
can sometimes be made with weaker hands which have lots of shape
• a good fit in both trumps and a second suit makes slam with fewer points and as a rough guide
it is worth exploring a slam if you have a fit and 28+ points in the combined hands.
Think of a slam when
• partner makes a strong opening bid and you have a positive reply
• partner opens and you have a strong hand
• you open and partner makes a game forcing jump shift response
• you both have good hands with lots of points and shape.
13.iii The need for Controls
Regardless of the strength of your combined hands, to bid a slam it is vital to have controls in
each suit so that you don't lose a couple of quick tricks before you can get the lead and take
your tricks. One way of investigating controls is to use the Gerber or Blackwood conventions.
They are conventions that may be used when you and partner have enough strength for a slam
and have agreed a suit but want to be sure you have enough aces.
13.iv When to use Gerber or Blackwood
Gerber and Blackwood are used when a partnership is heading for a slam and is a means of
checking how many Aces and Kings are held in your combined hands. They are popular with
Bridge beginners because they are simple to use and easy to remember. Beginners often use
Gerber because they believe it keeps the bidding low, however the correct use of Gerber is
following a 1 or 2 No-trump opening bid.
13.v Gerber Convention
If you are playing Gerber, following an opening bid of 1 or 2 NT, the bid of 4 clubs is a
convention to ask partner how many Aces they have. It says nothing about clubs. e.g.
1 NT - 4C; 2NT - 4C
The responses are:
4 Diamonds
4 Hearts
4 Spades
4 NT
= 0 or 4 aces
= 1 ace
= 2 aces
= 3 aces
If you are satisfied with the responses to the number of Aces, you may report the process at the
5 level to ask for Kings. Blackwood Convention (4NT)
The Blackwood convention should be used to enquire about Aces and Kings if the contract is intended
to be in a suit. When you have agreed a suit and believe you have enough points for a slam, you check
for Aces by bidding 4 No-trumps
The responses are the same as for Gerber:
5 Clubs
5 Diamonds
5 Hearts
5 Spades
= 0 or 4 aces
As with Gerber, you can go on to ask for Kings but as the responses will be at the 6-level you
should have ambitions for a grand slam. Before you use Blackwood you should be confident
that your side has sufficient strength for Slam.
13.vii Quantitative Raise
An alternative to Gerber is what is called a Quantitative Raise. After a 1 or 2 Notrump opening bid, a response of 4 NT is not Blackwood. It is a quantitative raise
saying ‘if you are maximum bid 6 No-trumps otherwise pass’. You require 19
points opposite a 1 No-trump opening, and 11 points opposite a 2 No-trump
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 14
14.0 Stayman
Stayman is a conventional bid, which is so popular that it is almost synonymous with all
bidding systems including acol. It is used as a response to an opening bid of 1 no-trump
when responder wishes to know whether opener has a four-card major suit.
When to use Stayman
If you have a fit in a suit, it is normally safer to play in a major suit contract than No-Trumps.
Stayman is a method whereby if your partner opens 1 No-Trump you can ask partner whether they
have a four-card major suit.
Stayman is only used as a direct response to partner's opening bid of 1 NT, (not a
rebid, or overcall). If there is an intervening bid of any sort, including a double, from
the opposition then you cannot use Stayman.
How to use Stayman
If partner opens 1NT, to ask whether he/she has a four card-major suit you bid 2 clubs. The 2-club bid
does not mean that responder has a club suit it is the Stayman convention and asks partner "do you have
four cards in either of the major suits"? If opener has a 4-card major then he bids that suit at the 2level. With no 4-card major opener must bid 2-diamonds in order to say "NO four card major suit
partner". (This does not promise a diamond suit).
From the reply responder can now either support the major bid if there is a fit, or bid no-trumps showing
their point count. If opener does not have a four card major, responder will bid 2 No-trumps, showing
11/12 points or 3 No-trumps showing 13+ points.
It is important that Stayman is not misused. To bid Stayman you must have
a) At least one four card major, and
b) at least 11 points
The loss of 2 clubs as a natural bid
When you use Stayman you lose the ability to make a weakness take-out in clubs. Responding
to 1 No-trump, if you are very weak and have say 6+ clubs, a bid of 2 clubs (Stayman)
followed by 3 clubs is a weakness take-out which opener should pass.
After 2 No-trump opening bid
Stayman can also be used following an opening bid of 2 No-trumps. By bidding three clubs
responder who has game values, can check whether there is a major suit fit before bidding 3
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 15
Jacoby (Red Card) Transfers
Jacoby Transfers is a convention which whilst not quite as popular as Stayman but
arguably just as beneficial. It is sometimes called red card transfers or simply transfers.
Stayman does not enable you to find a 5-3 fit, so the Stayman convention is often played
alongside ‘Transfers’, which enables you to show a five card suit with your first bid and a
point count with your second.
When and how to use transfers
As with Stayman, ‘Transfers’ are only used in response to an opening bid of 1 No-trump.
They are sometimes called "red suit transfers" because if responder bids a red suit this
asks opener to transfer to the next higher-ranking suit. Following an opening 1 no-trump
opening bid responders bids: 2 Diamonds - To show a 5-card heart suit and asks partner to bid 2 hearts.
2 Hearts
- To show a 5-card spade suit and asks partner to bid 2 spades.
After opener has rebid as directed i.e. 2 hearts or 2 Spades. Responder will then show the
strength of his/her (responder's) hand. i.e. with 11/12 points bid 2 no-trumps, and with 13 or
more points bid 3 no-trumps.
Alternatively responder can show a second suit at the three level which is game forcing
showing 5 cards in the first suit and at least 4 in the second suit. Opener can then chose the
best contract. With a 6-card major suit and sufficient points for game responder should first
transfer and then raise to game. This allows the stronger opening balanced hand to play the
contract and does expose the stronger hand to the opposition.
15.ii Using both Stayman and Transfers
Bidding is most effective when both Stayman and transfers are used as part of your partnership
agreement. However, when transfers are being used it is important that stayman is only used
with a 4-card major suit as transfers are used to show a 5-card suit.
15.iii Intervening Bids
As with Stayman, the Transfer convention does not apply following an intervening bid. If the
opposition overcall or double the opening 1 no-trump bid, all subsequent bids are natural. A
two level response by partner will then show a 5-card suit and a weak take-out.
15.iv Loss of 2 Diamonds as a natural bid
A disadvantage of using transfers is the loss of two diamonds as a natural weak take-out bid.
However, if responders’ hand is very weak, it is likely that the opposition will double the 1 notrump opening bid and that enables responder to bid a natural 2-diamond weakness take-out
15.v Advantages of Transfers
The advantages of transfers far outweigh any disadvantage. Using transfers enable you to
reach the best contract, which is in any event the overriding factor.
It specifically overcomes the problem of responder who has 11/12 points and a 5 card major,
where the strength and shape of responder's hand is impossible to show without using the
Transfer convention.
They also allow the 1NT hand to be declarer. NT hands usually have tenaces and these
will now be hidden from the opposing player- this is especially true when there is a
Weakness Take Out.
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 16
16.0 Popular Conventions – Fourth Suit Forcing
When you cant find a fit.
One of the most difficult hands to bid is when you have sufficient points for game, but Partner
has bid two suits and you still cant find a fit.
To bid no-trumps seems the obvious answer and clearly if you do hold a guard in the suit then
no-trumps is probably the correct bid. However, if your holding in the fourth suit is poor with
no guard in the suit, to bid no-trumps may be ‘risky’.
If you have cover in the fourth suit you would bid no-trumps, it follows therefore that a bid of
that suit has a special meaning.
16.ii Fourth Suit Forcing
The name of the convention tells you what it is about. A bid of the fourth previously unbid
suit, is forcing. It says nothing about the suit, may even be denying a reasonable holding or a
guard in the suit, and asks partner to describe their hand further.
It basically say’s to partner, “I know we are going somewhere but I don’t know where – tell me
more about your hand”.
It implies a hand of at least 11 points (probably more) with game a distinct possibility. It
suggests little support for either of partners suits and that no-trumps may be a suitable
destination if partner has a guard (a stop) in the unbid suit.
In the above bidding sequence East’s two-heart bid does not mean he has hearts. He is saying “
I am interested in at least the possibility of a game bid and want to keep the bidding open, but I
have no clear-cut natural bid I can make” The strong implication is that his hearts are not good
enough to bid no-trumps himself.
East has a good hand something like this
♥ 10 9 5
After West’s first two bids, East knows that his partner has an unbalanced hand at the weaker
end of the range with at least 5-spades and 4-diamonds. With twelve points West is sufficiently
strong to invite game but cannot support either of partners suits. There is no point in pursuing
clubs. If East were to bid no-trumps, the opposition would almost certainly lead hearts and he
has no protection against this suit. He has no sound natural bid but is too strong to pass. A bid
of 2-hearts conveys his dilemma and asks partner to supply more information.
West, with the below hand, can now describe his hand further
♦ Q 10 3 2
Two no-trumps would show a minimum hand with a heart stop.
East could pass this bid with nothing to spare, but with twelve points he just about has enough
for 3-no-trumps.
16.iv Responding to Fourth suit forcing.
In the example above West was able to bid no-trumps with a guard (stop) in the unbid suit.
Failing that west would have needed to make the most descriptive bid possible.
In general
bid no-trumps to the limit with ‘guard/s (stoppers) in the unbid suit
support partners suit with three card or two honours in the suit
rebid your second suit with a 5-card holding.
16.v Fourth suit at 1-level
Bidding the Fourth suit at the 1-level is a natural bid and not fourth suit forcing. How forcing is forcing.
Bidding the Fourth suit at the 2-level is forcing for one round.
Bidding the Fourth suit at the 3-level is forcing to game.
Church Minshull Bridge Club -
Beginners Class – session 17
Negative or Sputnik Doubles
In session 8 we learnt of the use of Doubles and the distinction between Penalty and
Takeout Doubles.
The penalty double which asks partner to pass and is used when the opponents
have bid to a contract which you are confident will fail, and a Take-out Double
which asks Partner to Bid. As the meanings are opposite, it is important that
you and your partner understand which meaning is intended when the double
card appears
A double is normally for penalties if :
It is a double of a no-trump bid. A double of 1 no-trump signifies 16+
points, which partner will pass if he/she believes you can defeat the
contract or bid their longest suit as a weakness take with very few
points. Ie under 4 points.
It is a double at the three level or higher.
A Take-out Double is a double of a suit bid at the one or the two level, and
asks partner to bid his best suit.
The basic take out double is normally used when the opposition have opened
the bidding and you have an opening hand. It can however also be used when
the opposition has overcalled your partners opening bid. A double of an
overcall is called either a Negative or Sputnik Double.
In principle, a double of an overcall shows support for the other two unbid
suits. It is intended to show partner that you have values, but due to the
overcall, prefer to hear partners second bid before responding. It often
indicates that the opposition overcall has taken up your bidding space.
What strength does it show?
The double shows the same strength that would be needed for a natural call at
that level. Ie If partner still has a bid available at the 1-level then only six
points are needed. If Partners rebid going to take him to the two-level then 9
points are needed .
Looking for a major
A negative double should always show 4-cards in any unbid major suit. It
follows therefore that if you bid an unbid major, following an opposition
overcall, that it shows a 5-card suit.
If you have a natural bid available.
A Negative double should only be used if a natural bid is not available. If a
natural bid is available make it!
Responding to a Negative Double
If your partner Double’s an overcall at the one ot two level it is for take-out.
You respond simply as though partner had bid an unbid suit at the minimum
If partner has Doubled an overcall at the three level it is for penalties and
should be passed.
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