By now I hope you all have understood that to overcall we need a suit of at least 5 cards in length. I encourage aggressive overcalling – especially non vulnerable – but you do need to be careful about introducing bad suits into the auction when you don’t have too many high card points (“hcp”). But how to judge when to bid and when to pass I hear you wail in unison? Luckily there is a little rubric that helps and that is:
This stands for Suit Quality Overcall Test. Be warned! It is not foolproof. Nothing ever is. But it will at least guide you towards considering the quality of the suit you want to overcall in as well as giving you a nudge towards the level at which you can be (reasonably) safe to overcall.
It goes like this: add the number of cards held in a suit to the number of honours (A,K,Q,J,10) held and the answer will give you the level at which you can overcall. Well that’s the idea anyway. But as I said be careful, especially when vulnerable. The overall quality of the rest of the hand is just as important as the suit you want to overcall with.
Some examples of suits in isolation:
A97432; ... KQ764; ... A10852; ... AQ753
AKQ84; ... AQ9652
The first one has a SQOT of 6 and should not be bid. The nextfour examples can be bid at the one level as the SQOT is 7. The next two have a SQOT of 8 and can be overcalled at the 2 level. The last one has a SQOT of 9 and can therefore be used in a weak jump overcall to the three level if NV. (If Vul have a 7 card suit for the 3 level)
This idea can be used for simple overcalls or Weak Jump Overcalls (5 - 10 with a good 6-card suit).
If I don't see you before, have a wonderful Christmas and a very good New Year!
All the best