’ello ’ello. It’s good to see you all getting so confident. Well done.
Game (3NT, 4H,4S,5C,5D) will normally be made on a combined 25 count between the two hands. When partner opens the bidding they start a Quest and you become their helper. Your job is now to help partner in the never-ending quest for the right contract. Accordingly, there are all sorts of bidding gadgets, understandings and conventions to light your path to the mythical mount of Everlasting Bridge Happiness.
On a simpler level though it is important to start on the right path and make sure your first bid is accurate as can be. There’s no point in plucking a bid from thin air and then er, wondering what er, to do next. So …
Responses to 1 of a Suit: The Limit Bids
Assuming no opposition bidding, Limit Bids tell your partner your support - or lack - and your point count in accurate well defined limits. Opener’s bid has promised at least 4 cards in the suit bid: so support from you normally means another 4 cards. If you make a support bid, do it at the right level and hopefully this quickly gives all the ammunition partner needs to make further decisions.
MAJORS: (Hearts & Spades):
1H - 1NT .... = .... 6 - 9 hcp, any shape, no immediate support (less than 4).
1H - 2H ..... = .... 6 - 9 hcp, 4 card support.*
1H - 3H ..... = .... 10 - 12 hcp, 4 card support.
1H - 4H ..... = .... weak at least 5 card support. (This is a pre-empt.)
*1H - 2H can be made on only 3 card support if 1NT looks silly because you have a short suit somewhere else.
These limit bids are pretty absolute. If your hand doesn’t fit these parameters you just have to do something else (more anon). These bids allow you to express support and values simply, quickly and accurately in one bid. As a general rule if one bid says it all – make it.
MINORS: (Clubs & Diamonds)
1C - 1NT .... = .... not a possible bid. You either have 4-card support or a 4-card suit of your own.
1D - 1NT .... = .... 6 - 9 hcp, no 4-card major, no immediate support (less than 4).
1C - 3C ..... = .... 10 - 12 hcp, no 4-card major, 4 card support.
1C - 5C ..... = .... weak pre-empt.
This looks the same as for majors BUT BUT BUT BUT … even if you have 4-card support for partner’s minor if you also have a 4 card major BID IT! All the above minor suit limit bids expressly deny a 4 card – or better – major. Never ever bypass a 4 card major – even if it’s 2345. I don’t care. Bid it.
Keeper of the runes he say:
Ne’er wilt nor waver,
Always bid your 4 card major.
Poetry pedant he say:
Never gamble, never wager,
Always bid the 4 card major
Take your pick …
New Suit Responses
All 1 level responses in a new suit can be made on 6+ hcp. But if the order of the suits obliges you to bid your suit at the 2-level you are pushing the boat out a bit and need 10+ hcp
If you have between 6 and 9 hcp and can’t bid your long suit at the 1-level then bid 1NT as above.
Now together you have set off on your Quest, along the path of Righteous Bidding. But like all Great Quests, lo! there comes an adversary. With crooked beaks and bloodshot eyes they tear their talons into your delicate constructive conversation – they OVERCALL!! Now what? O wise wizard of whist, now what? Are we … doomed?
More next week folks…