You, as partner of the opener, will need a minimum of 6 hcp (high card points) to respond. But - if you do have 6HCP you MUST respond. If you have 6 hcp it is your bounden duty to respond. There is a special cordoned-off section of the Underworld reserved for people who pass with 6 hcp, so terrible that other inmates pass by with averted eyes and muffled ears.
Because we always seek a major suit fit, if partner hasn’t already bid a major suit that you like, then you can introduce one yourself. Even if you have only 6 hcp, if you have a 4 card major that you can bid at the one level - BID IT. Of whatever quality! If it's 2345, I don't care - BID IT. The reasons are that
a) partner may have AKQJ with 19 points
b) if you end up playing in 3NT the player to your left may be put off leading that suit when it would defeat the contract. Both of these are Good Things.
Of course you are not limited to having a weak hand (6-9 hcp). You might have a better hand (10-12 hcp) or a good hand (13 hcp) where you already know that together you hold the 25+ hcp needed to bid game. Here are some things you can do with each of those ranges.
6 - 9 HCP:
- you can single raise partner's suit (4 card support)
1H - pass - 2H
- you can (must) bid a new suit at the one level
1C - pass - 1(D,H,S)
- with FIVE card support and interesting distribution, jump!
1H - 4H (!)
This is a pre-empt, not a slam enquiry...
- 1NT: (any distribution at all)
1S - 1NT
At a pinch if 1NT looks silly because of singletons etc you can raise partner’s suit with only 3-card support
10 - 12 HCP:
- double raise partner's suit (4 card support)
1H - 3H
- bid a new suit at the 1 level and wait for partner’s rebid
- introduce a new suit, lower-ranking than partner’s, at the two level and ditto
1H - 2(C,D)
- Make sure you get to game any way you can. But do go gently until you find an 8+ card suit fit or settle for NT. You could just change suit as before and wait for partner’s rebid but here are some
Less Basic Ways To Respond
1) A jump in a new suit is strong and forcing. It tends to show a long, very good suit and a hand that is interested in slam:
1C - pass - 2H
2) "Splinter" bids are a good way of responding when you have enough for game, a fit and a singleton or void:
1S - pass – 4C!
4C says you have 4 spades, points for game and a club singleton. All that in one bid. Not bad eh?
3) But what about - I hear you cry - a game going hand that doesn't have a singleton? Luckily there are two things you can do. The first is the so-called pudding raise of 3NT. It only applies after a MAJOR suit opening. It shows 13- 15, THREE card support and no singleton or void. After 1H you could pudding raise to 3NT with :
4) All stronger flat hands, after majors or minors, are best shown with a jump to 2NT. This is any flattish 16+ point hand. I'm sure some of you will have learnt that this bid shows 11-12 HCP. I'm afraid I'm going to ask you to "unlearn" that, for which I apologise. Personally I think that 2NT to show only 11-12 points is a criminal waste of bidding space and frequently takes the bidding a level too high when partner has (correctly) opened a bit light. So try to remember this new version : in response to a one level opening bid, 2NT = 16+, balanced.
Tha - tha - tha - that's all folks...