Bridge Basics 1T93 Main

Lesson 7

 by Richard Pavlicek


Until now we have considered only situations in which you or your partner open the bidding. In the real world you will not always be so lucky. Half of the time your opponents will open the bidding ahead of you, in which case you have two choices: Stay out of the bidding or compete for the final contract. The most common way to compete is with a suit overcall.

Suit Overcalls

If your right-hand opponent opens the bidding one of a suit and you have a five-card or longer suit (excluding the enemy suit), you may be able to make a suit overcall. This is done by bidding your suit at the cheapest level possible.

A suit overcall at the one level requires 10-18 points (distributional points included). Further, if your strength is toward the minimum range (10-12), you should have a decent five-card suit — at least Q-J-x-x-x — or any six-card suit.

A suit overcall at the two level requires about 13-18 points, and here the suit quality is even more important. If your strength is minimum (13-15), you should have a good five-card suit — at least A-Q-J-x-x or K-Q-10-x-x — or any six-card suit.

These requirements are summarized below:

PointsSuit LengthOvercall at
10-126+ or decent 51 level
13-155+1 level
6+ or good 51 or 2 level
16-185+1 or 2 level

Responses to a Suit Overcall

If your partner makes a suit overcall, you are not required to bid; in fact you should always pass with 0-7 points because game is out of reach. With 8-9 points you should usually respond, and with 10 points or more you must respond.

The most desirable response is to raise partner’s suit, especially a major suit. This requires at least three trumps. Remember to count your points as the dummy (see Lesson 4). Raise to the next level with 8-11 points; jump raise with 12-14 points; or raise to game with 15 or more.

Another possible response is to bid an unbid suit of your own. Bid a five-card or longer suit at the cheapest level with 8-11 points; jump in a six-card or longer suit with 12-14 points; or jump to game in a six-card or longer suit with 15 points or more.

A third possibility is to respond in notrump. This requires a stopper in the enemy suit — a holding of the ace, K-x, Q-x-x, J-x-x-x or better so the opponents cannot run the suit. Bid notrump at the cheapest level with 8-11 points; jump with 12-14; or bid 3 NT with 15 or more.

Observe how all of the responses follow the same pattern:

PointsResponseIs it Forcing?
8-11Cheapest levelNo
15+Bid gameNo

One Notrump Overcall

This is the easiest bid you’ll ever learn! An overcall of one notrump requires 16-18 HCP and a balanced hand. Sound familiar?

A 1 NT overcall is the same as a 1 NT opening bid except you must have a stopper in the enemy suit.

If partner overcalls one notrump, you should pretend that he opened the bidding one notrump and respond in the same way.

Bridge Basics 1T93 MainTop Lesson 7

Takeout Doubles

If your hand does not qualify for an overcall, you may be able to enter the bidding with a takeout double. A double of an opening bid of one of a suit asks partner to “take it out” by bidding an unbid suit; hence, the doubler must be prepared for any suit that partner might bid. More specifically, the requirements are:

A double of one of a suit requires 13-18 points with three or more cards in each unbid suit, or any hand with 19+ points.

Responses to a Takeout Double

If your partner makes a takeout double and your right-hand opponent passes, you must respond even with no points — if you pass, the doubled bid would become the final contract. You may bid any unbid four-card or longer suit (including jump bids). Usually you will bid your longest suit, although you should prefer to bid a major suit if you can.

In responding to the double it is important to show your strength. You are required to bid with nothing, so you should jump with 10-12 points; and you should bid game with 13 points or more. To summarize:

PointsResponseIs it Forcing?
0-9Cheapest levelNo
13+Bid gameNo

Bridge Basics 1T93 MainTop Lesson 7

Quiz 7

Assume your right-hand opponent opens the bidding one diamond. Fill in your points and the call you would make.

Enter calls like this: P X 1H 2C 3N 4S 6D

1. S A K J 7
H A 9 6 3Points  
D 4 2Call  
C 10 8 3

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

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

4. S Q J 8
H A 9 4Points  
D A J 8Call  
C K Q 9 7


Top Lesson 7

Now assume the opening bid is one club, partner overcalls one spade, and your right-hand opponent passes.

5. S A J 8
H 8 2Points  
D K 10 7 3Call  
C 9 8 6 3

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

7. S 9 5
H A 9 5Points  
D A J 8 3Call  
C K J 10 6

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


Top Lesson 7

Finally, assume the opening bid is one heart, partner makes a takeout double, and your right-hand opponent passes.

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

10. S K Q 9 6
H A 6 3Points  
D 6 4Call  
C J 10 6 4

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

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


Top Lesson 7

© 2012 Richard Pavlicek