Part I – The “Delayed Game Raise”
You yawn as you sort your hand (it’s been a long session!) and wearily shove suits into their preferred order. It’s a goodish hand, you’re Vulnerable, but what exactly to open?
1S could be right but the slight re-bid problem (1S - 2S should ideally show 6 Spades) means you flirt with the (correct) idea of 1NT. Just as you toy with that notion you get a rude awakening: LHO nudges you and a bit rudely informs you it’s your turn to bid as partner has opened. You jerk awake and look over the table to see partner has tabled 1S.
1S? Can this be right? Presumably. Remember – partner is always right even when they're wrong. But now what are you going to do? 4S flashes to the forefront of your cranium: enough
points for game and the best damn fit partner is going to see for a very long time. So you…
Hang on hang on. What is it that pesky man keeps saying? “A jump to 4S is a weak pre-emptive manoeuvre…” Thinks: you mean... something like:
Ok right. So you can’t bid 4S. Apart from anything else if partner had a really good hand, (18 - 20 HCP) that just happened to be missing the AK of trumps, and you jump to 4S there’s going to be precious little room for the partnership to investigate any even teeny-weeny possibility of a slam, which is why the bid is reserved for rubbish hands with a good fit.
It is this thought that should persuade you away from 4S. 4S will almost certainly make for 620 but wouldn’t you rather at least have a look at the possibility of 1430? It’s an awful lot more isn’t it? But tactical strategies aside – what on earth are you actually going to bid?
For a start 2S, 3S and 4S are out – as your hand is far too good for any of these “limit bids”. Likewise 1NT, 2NT and 3NT are also just not on the money. The way to think of it is that in order to know if slam is possibly making or not we need to get a better idea of just
exactly what partner’s got over there. If all partner can rebid is 2S then 4S will probably be enough, but if partner starts jumping about in second suits or NT then your hand might come as a very pleasant surprise.
Yes, yes, yes, but what do you actually bid? By now LHO is clearly considering whether really really slow bridge could have been a neat torture for a Spanish Inquisition. It is still your turn so
you do have to bid. I’m afraid all you can do is bid 2D! 2C isn’t ideal; 2H would promise 5 of them and we just dismissed about everything else. 2D does at least give partner room to rebid the opening hand and anyway you know for a certainty that whatever partner does you are going to finish up in at least 4S. So give yourself room in the bidding. Lie just a little in the interests of future harmony…
Part 2: Upgrade to a Forcing 2NT
For those of you who want a better bid than the 2D bid above, I suggest you start playing 2NT as a game force over a major, showing 4+ card support and 13+HCP.
This does mean though that you lose the old-fashioned Acol 2NT response showing 10-12 HCP, which is a vile space eating monster anyway. It does also mean you’ll have to find a 2 level minor suit bid when partner opens 1S and you hold something like:
10 - 12, only 3 card support but at least you get to be able to actually stop in 2 of a major when partner has been a bit aggressive with the opening bid.
And when you have a better hand with a similar shape you can make the “pudding raise” of 3NT showing a flat hand, 3 card support and 13 - 15 HCP.
It just keeps on getting simpler and simpler, doesn’t it?