Sunday, December 29, 2013

2-Over-1: Major Suit Raises – Part One

Responder Has 3- or 4-Card Support

If you use 1 NT Forcing, you now have a superb method of pinpointing your major suit support for opener. 
With weak responses you can show raises that are "very weak" (5 to 7 points) or "constructive" (8 to 10 points). With 11+ points, you can pinpoint 3-card or 4-card support.

These goodies are available to responder by bidding according to these guides:

With 5 to 7 points, first bid 1 NT then bid two in opener’s major:

♠ A J 9               South        North
8 7 3               1♥             1 NT
9 8 6 5 4          2♣            2
♣ 8 5  

North’s "raise" shows either 3-card support with a dreadful point count — 
5 to 7 — or just 2-card support with 6 to 10 points. It doesn’t matter which it is, it is bad news either way:

♠ 8 5                  South        North
6 2                  1♠             1 NT
K J 8 7 6         2♥             2♠
♣ K 4 3 2

With 8 to 10 points and 3+ card support, raise opener’s major immediately:
(This is a "Constructive Raise")

♠ 9 7 6                South       North
A J 6               1♥             2
8 5  
♣ Q J 9 8 7

North shows a better point count than bidding 1 NT and then raising. North may have 3 or 4+ card support.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

©2013 Roberta Salob

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2-Over-1: Responder’s Second Bid After 1 NT – Part Two

Pass opener in his second suit:

♠ 8                   South         North
A Q 8 7        1♠               1 NT
6 5 3 2          2               Pass
♣ 9 7 6 5

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2-Over-1: Responder’s Second Bid After 1 NT – Part One

Responder Has Less Than 3-Card Support

If partner opened in a major and you responded 1 NT, it will be assumed you have less than 3-card support. For exceptions, see upcoming post: Major Suit Raises.

If you have a 6+ card suit, bid it:
(a strong 5+ card suit may be bid on the 2-level)

♠ 3                        South         North
Q J 9 7 6 5       1♠               1 NT
K 7 6                2               2
♣ 8 5 4                Pass

Sunday, December 8, 2013

2-Over-1: Opener’s Second Bid After 1 NT – Part Two

With only a 5-card major and 12-14 points, bid a second suit, even if it is only a 3-card(!) minor:

♠ K 8 7                   South      North
K Q 8 5 4           1           1 NT
7 6                      2♣
♣ K Q 4

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2-Over-1: Opener’s Second Bid After 1 NT – Part One

After a 1 NT response to a major, opener must bid again:

If you have a 6+ card major, rebid it:

♠ A K 9 8 4 2           South             North
2                           1♠                  1 NT
K 7 6                     2♠
♣ K 9 8

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2-Over-1: The Forcing 1NT… Part Four

Don’t Use 1 NT Forcing If …

If you are a passed hand, a 1 NT response is not forcing:

West                              East
♠ 8 7                              ♠ A Q 9 6 4
A Q 6                         10 5 4
Q 9 8 7 6                     J 10
♣ 10 9 8                        ♣ K J 7

West              North              East               South
Pass               Pass                1♠                  Pass
1 NT              Pass                Pass               Pass

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2-Over-1: The Forcing 1NT… Part Three

Don’t Use 1 NT Forcing if …

If opener bids 1then responder, holding 4+ spades, should bid 1♠:

♠ Q 9 8 2            North            South
7 6                  1                  ??
A K J 10
♣ 9 8 6

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2-Over-1: The Forcing 1NT… Part Two

How To Use 1 NT Forcing

Use it only after a major opening bid. 1 NT is not forcing after a minor opening:

1.                                                     2.
North         South                           North            South
1             1 NT                             1                1 NT
 *                                                  *
*North must make                          *North may pass with a
  another bid.                                   balanced minimum hand.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2-Over-1: The Forcing 1 NT…Part One

While you weren’t looking, Standard American became a dinosaur. 4-card major openings were replaced with 
5-cards; 1 NT can now be opened holding a 5-card major and a worthless doubleton; weak 2’s replaced strong 2’s, and on and on. But the loudest crash is the fall of the non-forcing 1 NT response to a major and its kissing cousin, 2-over-1 (2/1) as forcing only one round. Now, 1 NT is forcing and 2/1 is forcing to game.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Double Their Artificial Bids - Use Your Enemy! Part 2

You must be in the right position for this to work:

3. You
♠ 5 4                LHO           Partner          RHO           You
 8 7 5             2♣               Pass              2                Pass
 J 9 6                              
♣ A Q J 9 4
You want a club lead, but are in the wrong position to ask for it. If you double, you’d be indicating a diamond suit. And if you bid 3♣, you’re asking for trouble!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Double Their Artificial Bids - Use Your Enemy! Part 1

Here is one area of bidding that the average bridge player totally ignores. What a waste!
Here is your new toy in a nutshell:

When an opponent makes an artificial bid, double that bid to show you have length and strength in that suit.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Third Hand Play - Part Two

2. When third hand has touching honors, he plays his cheapest honor.

Yes, third hand plays high, but not always the highest card. With a suit headed by the A K, follow with the King; With K Q, follow with the Queen, with Q J, follow with the Jack, with J 10, the 10.

So when third hand plays an honor, he says, “I do not have the honor immediately below.”

                                                7 5
                        You                                     Partner  
                   J 8 6 4 2               ❏            10 played
                                          A played

The bid is 3 NT. You led the 4. Dummy plays the 5, partner the 10 and declarer wins the A.
What do you know? Everything!

Partner has no honor - he would have played high. He can’t even have the  9 - with  10 9 he would have followed with the  9. Declarer has  A K Q 9.  Stay away from this suit!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Third Hand Play - Part One

 When are you “Third Hand”?

The third hand refers to the defense - specifically to the partner of the leader. Unlike the second hand, third hand is the last stop for your side - your partner has already played. The third hand has some special guidelines to follow:

1. If there is no honor in the dummy, third hand plays a high card. Not medium high... High.

                                                   6 5 2
                           Partner                                    You
                          7 lead                  ❏              A J 4

Partner led the 7. Dummy plays the 2. You must play your A; the J won’t do. Declarer could have the Q and partner the K - playing the J would give declarer a free trick. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rules Broken By The Overcaller

Rule: Bid a takeout double when you are short in the opponent’s suit and long (at least 3 cards) in all the unbid suits. 


               Opp.           You
               1♣               ??

        #5                         #6                         #7
♠ J 10 7 2             ♠ A Q 9 7 6             ♠ A J 9
A Q 9 8             J 9 8                      K Q 7
K 9                    Q 7 6                     10 9 6 4 2
♣ A 10 9             ♣ A 2                       ♣ A Q

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rules Broken By The Opener

You will now be let in on a dirty little secret: bridge experts lie!

Some of the golden rules you hold most sacred are disregarded on occasion because the “lie” is the lesser of evils. 

Openers lie often because the lie is usually the only bid that makes sense:

Rule: Always bid a major when possible; Don’t open NT if you are unbalanced. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Don’t Trump… Dump

Occasionally, the opponents lead a suit which you can easily trump in your hand, but if you do, one of two problems may occur. Either one opponent will overtrump you (and trumping high may only create another problem later when you need the high trump for pulling trump), or you don’t have enough trump to trump and still pull out all of their trump. The solution may be to dump a loser, instead of trumping - a.k.a. a loser on a loser play.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Your RHO Can Be Your Friend

Your right-hand-opponent (RHO) can bid just at the right time or just at the worst time for you. Here is the one true statement:

Whenever your RHO bids, you can pass because partner will automatically have another chance to bid.

This does not say you must pass or you should pass. You CAN pass.

How does this affect your bidding?

Monday, July 15, 2013

You open, LHO bids, Partner Passes (Continued….)

Bid a new 4-card suit

If your second suit is 4+ cards, and it ranks lower than your first suit, bid it on the two-level:

♠  A Q 10 9 7          You         LHO         Partner         RHO
 5 3                       1♠          2♣            Pass              Pass
 A K 8 5                2
♣  4 2              

You have a two-suited hand, and though you have a minimum point count, you should bid. Partner will be forced to take a preference between spades and diamonds.

Bid Notrump

Believe it or not, if the opener rebids 1 NT after his partner has passed, opener needs 18+ points! Contrast this with opener’s rebid of 1 NT if responder  bid: 12-14 points. We don’t fool around with NT.

♠  K Q J                You            LHO            Partner            RHO 
 A K Q              1              1♠                Pass                 Pass
 J 10 9 6            1 NT
♣  Q 10 9  

There are two explanations for this. First, it’s too dangerous to bid notrump opposite a partner with few or no points unless you have a strong hand - keep in mind, partner could have zero points.  And second, you would have opened 1 NT with 15 to 17 points, hence the 18+ point count.

Cue Bid

If you opened with 21  points, probably just shy of a 2♣ opening bid, you may choose as your rebid a cue bid - that is, bid the overcaller’s suit. This is a very strong takeout double to your partner.

♠ A                        You            LHO            Partner            RHO
A K J 9 8           1              1♠                Pass                 Pass
K Q J 2              2♠
♣ Q 10 6                
                             This announces b-i-i-i-i-i-i-g!

Here are some extra things to think about:

1. If your partner will not be forced to bid higher than the two-level, you can reopen with 13 points.
2. If you bid on the three-level or force partner to bid on the three-level, you need 17+ points.
3. Avoid reopening balanced hands unless you are strong.
4. If your RHO bids, be very careful. Your partner will have another chance to bid even if you pass, so don’t strain to make a bid.

© 2013 Roberta Salob

You open, LHO bids, Partner Passes

The bidding goes:         You            LHO          Partner         RHO
                                   1♠               2               Pass             Pass

You should make every effort to bid unless you have 13 to 16 points (minimum opener) and 3+ cards in the opponent’s suit.  

Don’t forget your partner may have a decent hand with as many as 9-10 points but was unable to bid after the overcall.

There are five different bids the opener can make:


If you opened and partner passed, you can double for takeout. You need support for the two unbid suits. Opener can double with a minimum point count - it does not show extra points.

♠  K 10 8                You          LHO          Partner        RHO
 A Q 8 6              1             2♣              Pass            Pass
 A 9 8 7 4             Dbl
♣  2           

You are showing support for hearts and spades.  Your partner must answer (unless his RHO bids) by bidding hearts, spades, NT or raising diamonds. 
Note: If partner is convinced their bid will go down, he may pass, converting the opener’s takeout double to a penalty double.

Rebid a 6-card suit

You may not rebid a 5-card suit, but 6 or more should be rebid:

♠  A K J 8 6 4         You           LHO        Partner        RHO
 6 4                      1♠             2             Pass             Pass
 9 5                       2♠
♣  K Q 5     

You have a good chance of making 2♠ or you may even push the opponents too high. If you had a stronger hand - let’s say another ace - you should jump to 3♠ to prod partner if he has some values.

Look for the next "Roberta's Blog" for three more options!

© 2013 Roberta Salob

Monday, July 1, 2013

Partner leads a spot card

Honor leads are easy to figure out - spot cards, that is the 2 thru 9, are ambiguous. The most common agreement is with three small cards, lead the lowest card.

•  Partner leads a high spot card

Almost always the lead of a high spot card (7, 8 or 9) is usually the start of a “high-low” signal: 

•  Partner leads a low spot card

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interpret Your Partner's Honor Lead

If you are not interpreting your partner’s opening lead against a trump contract, you are wasting a very valuable opportunity to defeat their bid.

Partner leads an honor

If your partner’s lead is an honor, you can almost always expect it to be the top of a sequence. Immediately say to yourself, “He’s got the honor right below, but not the one above.” 

Let’s say the opponents wind up in 4:

♠ 8 6 4
Partner You
Leads ♠Q           ❏ ♠ K 9 7 3

Your partner leads the ♠Q. Let’s analyze: the queen promises the jack and denies the king and ace. So declarer has the ♠A, which will probably win the first trick. But what do you play on trick #1? Signal with the ♠9 that you want the suit continued. You know where everything is located - clue partner in.
Incidentally, what if partner opened the bidding 1♠? Then declarer would have a singleton ace -  don’t encourage partner to lead another spade - follow with the 3.

♠ 8 6 4
Partner You
♠K lead              ❏ ♠ J 7 3

Now you know partner has the queen, and declarer has the ace. Signal with the ♠7 to encourage partner to continue spades the next time he gets the lead. Your ♠J is important!

♠ 8 6 4
Partner You
♠Q lead              ❏ ♠ A 2

Figure it out: Declarer has the king. If you follow with the ♠2, declarer wins the king and you have to sit and wait for your ace, which may never happen. Not only that, it’s a doubleton ace, so you would block up the spade suit by playing your ♠2. Up your ace!

♠ 8 6 4
Partner You
♠A lead             ❏ ♠ Q 9 7 3

Partner probably has the king; you must tell him it is safe to lead his king by signaling with the ♠9. You would be indicating either a doubleton or the ♠Q; either one would encourage partner to lead his ♠K.

Tune in next time when the topic will be "Partner leads a spot card."

© 2013 Roberta Salob

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stayman or Jacoby?

Of course you know that with a 4-card major you respond 2 and with a 5+ card major use Jacoby.
What about a hand with a 4 and a 5-card major? Look at East:

1.     West                       East
        ♠ K J 10                 ♠ Q 9 8 6
        Q 10                    K J 8 6 5
        Q J 10 6 5            A 8 7
        ♣ A K 7                 ♣ 5

        West                      East
        1 NT                     2♣
        2                         3
        3 NT                     Pass

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Taking a Preference

This is one of the least written about topics in bridge literature, yet it is one of the most important concepts in bidding. It involves duty and obligation.

Preference Bidding: If opener bids two suits, you must choose if you have 0 to 10 points. Passing is choosing opener's second suit.

If you have an equal number of cards in the two suits opener bid, choose opener's first suit.

Here is an extreme example of this theory at work:

1. You
♠ 4 3 2  Partner        RHO        You        LHO
4 3  1♠ Dbl          Pass       2♣
5 4 3 2  2                 Pass         ?
♣ 5 4 3 2

Of course you passed partner’s 1♠ opener. However, if you pass partner’s 2 bid, using the same lazy thinking, you will leave partner in a 6-card trump suit (he only showed four hearts) when you know he has five spades and you can be in an 8-card trump suit. Your bid must be 2♠.

What if your preference is partner’s second suit? We’ll give you a few more points in this next hand:

2. You
♠ 9 4 3 2 Partner RHO You       LHO
4                     1  Pass 1♠ Pass
5 4 3 2 2                Pass         ?
♣ K J 3 2

Here you have a clear preference for partner’s diamonds. Since a new lower-ranking suit by opener is not forcing, you should quietly pass and play the hand in 2.
And just in case you are thinking of bidding 2 NT - forget it – you would need 11+ points to bid 2 NT.

3. You
♠ 5 4 3 2  Partner  RHO  You  LHO
 4     1  Pass Pass 2♣
 6 5 4 3   2* Pass ?
♣ 5 4 3 2    
                            *A “reverse” bid - when your second suit is higher ranking 
                              than your first suit, you have a very strong hand - 17+ points.

Again your instinct to just pass and get out fast is wrong; you prefer diamonds to hearts. But now you are increasing the bid to 3. No matter - you must take your preference, wherever it takes you.

4. You
♠ 3 2  Partner  RHO  You  LHO
4 3 1♠ Pass 1NT Pass
 A 5 4 3 2           2  Pass         ?
♣ Q 4 3 2

Your obligation is to take a preference. Opener has shown five spades and four hearts. Your bid is 2♠.

Sometimes you should take a “false” preference:

5. You
♠ 4 3 LHO  Partner     RHO  You
 4 3 2 1          1♠ 2 Pass
 5 4 3                 Pass         2  Pass ?
♣ A Q 5 4 3  

Your preference is for hearts, but partner only showed four hearts. Since playing in a 5-2 fit (spades) is superior to a 4-3 fit (hearts), return partner to 2♠. Another advantage to bidding 2♠ is you give partner another chance to bid.

You don’t have to take a preference with 0 - 10 points if:
1. You have a 6+ card suit (just rebid it) or
2. You can bid one of something new or
3. Your RHO bid (now you can pass)

© 2013 Roberta Salob

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Responses to 2♣ with a really bad hand

Here’s a controversial topic in the opening 2♣ saga– how does the responder to 2♣ show a dreadful hand? By definition, “dreadful” refers to a hand with 0-3 points, without any card higher than a queen.

Here are two popular methods to show these bad hands:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Card Showing Doubles

This is a neat gadget to solve an uncomfortable problem.

The bidding:

Partner        Opp.        You         Opp.
1               Pass         1♠            2
Pass            Pass         ?

Your hand:
♠ A J 9 6 3     4 2     Q 8    ♣ K 8 4 2

What a dilemma! Your choice of a rebid are all bad:

1. Rebid your mediocre 5-card spade suit (only perverts repeat 5-card suits!)
2. Bid 3♣, an anemic 4-card minor suit
3. Bid 2 NT with no heart stopper

But if you and partner play "card showing doubles", you would double in this sequence, showing a decent hand (10+ points) with no convenient bid. Partner will know it is a takeout double, not a penalty double.

© 2013 Roberta Salob

Monday, May 20, 2013

Balancing Jump Overcalls

West             North             East             South
1                 Pass               Pass             ?

South is in the balancing position....a pass would end the bidding. Should South ever make a "weak jump overcall?" No, because there is no need to jam up their bidding. With a very weak hand, just pass and leave them in their partscore; don't give them a chance to reconsider and perhaps bid a game. Therefore, jumping in the balancing position is not weak - it shows a good 6-card suit (or longer) and around an opening bid. If South's hand was:

♠ A Q J 9 7 5
 9 3
8 5
♣ K Q 6

South would jump to 2. North would know South has a decent hand, not a junky hand that is just balancing, and this bid makes it harder for the opponents to bid again on a low level. (With a weaker hand, South would bid 1; with a stronger hand, South would first make a takeout double and then bid spades.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Responding in a New Suit After a Takeout Double

Responding on the one-level:

Partner has opened one-in-a-suit and your RHO bids Double. Bidding has changed since the glory days of Charles Goren (he's dead, you know…..) Mr. Goren said that a new suit always shows under 10 points because with ALL 10+ point hands, you would redouble. Not so anymore (sorry, Charlie…..) Here's a better way to play new suits bids by the responder after a takeout double:

Partner        RHO          You
1               Double       1*

* Most experts agree that bidding one-in-a-suit after a takeout double is a forcing bid showing 6+ points. It has the same meaning as if RHO passed. Your hand could look like this:

♠  9 8    K Q J 10 8 7    J 7 4   ♣ K 9

Yes, you have the strength to redouble, but then it may be difficult to show your suit next time, especially if the opponents find a spade fit. Bid 1 now, and the next round jump in hearts to show a 6-card heart suit with invitational points, a perfect description.

Responding on the two-level:

This is not at all like responding without RHO bidding double! In Standard bridge, when the responder bids a new suit on the 2-level, it shows a good hand with at least 10 or 11+ points. But if you play that way, you would have to pass this hand:

Partner        RHO          You 
1              Double        ?

♠  9 5 3    3    K Q J 9 8 6   ♣ J 4 3

It's now or never - since 2 would not be forcing after a takeout double (responder would redouble with 10+ points or bid one-in-a-suit, both forcing bids), you can bid 2 and partner will know you have a good 5 or 6+ card suit and under 10 points. 

Takeout doubles change everything!

© 2013 Roberta Salob

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Agonizing Bids

When partner opens 1 NT and you have a three-suited hand with a singleton or void, depending on your point count, you need to make a decision:

♠ 8   K 8 6 4   K J 9 7   ♣ J 10 8 7

You have enough to invite a game, but if your Stayman 2♣ bid does not reveal a heart fit with partner, you must go back to 2 NT - this is not too savory, but you have no other good choice. Just hope partner can cover you singleton, or the opponents won't lead a spade, or if they do, they may block their own suit…….be brave!

But what if you are very weak?

♠  8 6 4 3   9   Q J 6 5   ♣ J 10 8 3

Pass. This is an awful hand to put on the table, but you have no safe place to run. If you bid 2♣ and partner bids 2, you are stuck.

But there is an exception to passing with a weak hand and no long suit:

♠ 8 5 4 3   8 6 2   J 10 9 6 5   ♣ 4

With this assortment of junk, still bid 2♣! You will PASS any bid by partner, even 2. This is the only distribution (very short in clubs, long in everything else) that you can use Stayman. It's known as "Garbage Stayman".

© 2013 Roberta Salob