Bridge Basics 1T29   Main

Lesson 3

  by Richard Pavlicek

Bidding Goals

Once the opening bid has been made, there are two important goals in your partnership bidding. The first goal is to find the best trump suit (or agree to play in notrump if desirable). The second goal is to earn the scoring bonus for bidding game.

Trumps or Notrump?

A major-suit trump fit generally provides the best contract. For this you need a combined holding of eight or more cards between you and partner. It does not matter how those eight cards are divided.

If a major-suit trump fit does not exist, your best contract is usually notrump if both hands are balanced or nearly balanced.

Your last choice should be to play in a minor-suit trump fit.

Aim for Game

A “game” bid is a contract of at least three notrump, four hearts, four spades, five clubs or five diamonds. You will understand this better when you learn how to keep score as it is based on the trick score.

In order to bid game and have a good chance of succeeding, you and partner together must have a certain number of points:

Game BidPoints Required
3 NT or 4 H or 4 S26
5 C or 5 D29

Notice that minor-suit games require 3 additional points because it is necessary to win 11 tricks. This is the reason that minor suits are given a low priority when deciding the best contract.

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Responses to One Notrump

Let us assume your partner opens the bidding one notrump and the next player passes. You will be called the “responder” since you will be responding to partner’s bid.

First you should consider whether the best contract will be in a major suit or in notrump. Is a major-suit trump fit likely? Note that partner promised a balanced hand so he has at least two cards in every suit.

Next you should consider whether to bid game. This is done by adding your points to the 16-18 HCP shown by partner. Is it possible to reach 26 points? Keep this in mind as you decide what to do.

This lesson explains the basic responses to one notrump. You will learn additional responses when you get to Lesson 9.

Major Suit Responses

The most desirable response to partner’s one-notrump opening is to bid a five-card or longer major suit. Responder may count distributional points when he plans to bid a suit.

With 7 points or less, responder should bid his major suit at the two level. The opening notrump bidder should pass because game is out of reach (7 + 18 = 25 at most). This contract will often fail, but it usually will be better than a contract of one notrump.

With 10 points or more (enough for game as 10 + 16 = 26 at least), responder may bid his major suit at the three level. Alternatively, with a six-card or longer major suit, responder may bid at the four level.

These responses are summarized in the following table:

PointsSuit LengthResponse
1-75+2 H or 2 S
10+5+3 H or 3 S
10-146+4 H or 4 S

After a response of three hearts or three spades, opener must not pass because responder has announced the strength for game but game has not been reached. With three or more cards in responder’s suit, opener should raise to four hearts or four spades, respectively. With a doubleton in responder’s suit, opener should bid three notrump.

Notrump Responses

If responder does not have a five-card or longer major suit, the best contract will usually be in notrump. In that event it is simply a matter of point count. Remember, you cannot count distributional points when you intend to play in notrump.

If game is out of reach (0-7 points), simply pass. One notrump will be the final contract.

If game is possible (8-9 points), respond two notrump. This is called an “invitational bid” as it invites opener to bid game with a maximum; opener should pass with a minimum. More specifically, opener should bid three notrump with 17 or 18 points, or pass with 16 points.

If game is assured (10-14 points), respond three notrump. This completes game so the bidding is over; opener must pass.

The following table summarizes these options:

8-92 NT
10-143 NT

Winning tip: Get in the habit of adding your points to partner’s any time you know partner’s point range. This will allow you to figure out the proper contract even if you forget the specific rules.

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Quiz 3

Assume your partner opens the bidding one notrump and the next player passes. How many points is each hand worth and what is your call? Do not count distributional points if you will pass or bid notrump.

Enter calls as: 1H 2C 3N 4S 6D P

1. S Q J 6 5
H 8 6 2Points
D K 10 5 3Call
C 7 2

2. S Q 10 8 6 2
H 9 5Points
D J 6 4Call
C 9 8 3

3. S K 7 5
H 4 3Points
D A K 3Call
C J 10 9 6 2

4. S 3 2
H K Q 9 8 6Points
D Q 7 3Call
C A 6 4

5. S 10 5 3
H A 2Points
D Q J 7 4Call
C Q 8 6 3

6. S 9 4
H J 7 4 2Points
D 8 6Call
C Q 10 8 5 2

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7. S J 10 2
H 7 5Points
D K J 6 3 2Call
C K 7 5

8. S 2
H 9 8 7 5 3Points
D Q J 8 7 5Call
C 4 3

9. S K Q 8
H A J 10 6Points
D K J 2Call
C 6 5 4

10. S K Q 10 8 6 5
H 2Points
D K 10 4Call
C 9 8 3

11. S A J 3
H 9 7 2Points
D J 10 5 3 2Call
C 8 7

12. S A J 8 7 3
H A J 8 7 3Points
D 10 2Call
C 9

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© 2012 Richard Pavlicek