Main     Lesson 3E by Richard Pavlicek    

Opener’s Third Bid

In many cases your partnership will need more than four bids to reach the best final contract, so it is essential to know the proper bidding strategy after responder’s rebid. This lesson pertains to the third bid by opener on the common auctions that begin with a one-over-one suit response.

As the opening bidder your goal is to describe your hand to partner as accurately as possible. In most cases responder is still the captain and will select the final contract.

General Priorities

The occasions on which you bid three times depend on the strength and pattern of your hand, and the nature of responder’s rebid. Listed below in order of priority are the options to consider when you plan to make a third bid:

Support responder

Support responder’s first suit if you have 3 cards (or 2 cards if he has rebid it). Raise responder’s second suit with 4 cards.

Bid a new suit

Bid an unbid 4 card suit at the 2 or 3 level if convenient.

Show extra length

If you have undisclosed length in your own suit, bid that suit again. Do not repeat what you have already shown.

Bid notrump

This is the catchall if you cannot bid anything else. The only time you need a stopper is when there is exactly one unbid suit.

The strength required for opener’s third bid depends on the meaning of responder’s rebid — whether it is weak, invitational or forcing. Each case will be covered separately.

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If Responder is Weak

When responder shows a weak hand (6-10 points), you will usually pass. Partner has suggested a final contract and game is unlikely. Do not become so absorbed with your own hand that you fail to picture the weakness of partner’s hand and bid yourself into trouble.

If responder shows a weak hand, you should bid again only with 17+ points or extreme shape.

How can you bid three times with the same lousy hand?
Oh loosen up! Wait’ll you hear my fourth bid!

1.
S A J 9 3
H 2
D A K 8 2
C Q 9 8 3
Table

West
1 D
1 S
Pass
East
1 H
2 H

Partner should have 6+ hearts so 2 H is probably your side’s best contract. Do not attempt a rescue bid of 2 NT as you will surely get overboard.

2.
S A 10 9 6
H 5
D 8 6 5
C A K Q 8 4
Table

West
1 C
1 S
Pass
East
1 H
1 NT

Do not rebid 2 C with only 5 cards. Partner is likely to be pleased with your hand as he probably can run the club suit and obtain a good score in notrump.

3.
S 2
H A Q 8 4 3
D A K J 3
C J 6 3
Table

West
1 H
2 D
Pass
East
1 S
2 H

Partner’s bid is a preference (probably a doubleton heart) so do not make the mistake of revaluing your hand as you would after a raise. If partner held 3+ trumps, he would have raised to 2 H directly; then you would bid 3 H to invite game.

4.
S J 2
H A K 8 6 2
D A K J 4
C 4 3
Table

West
1 H
2 D
3 S
East
1 S
2 S

Holding 17 points you should bid again. Partner shows 6+ spades so you can raise with a doubleton. Your bid is invitational to game; partner should bid 4 S if he is in the upper half of his 6-10 point range.

5.
S
H A Q J 9 3
D K Q J 8 3
C 9 3 2
Table

West
1 H
2 D
3 D
East
1 S
2 S

This distribution is extreme enough to warrant an attempt to improve the contract, though I would tend to pass 2 S if I held a singleton instead of the void. You indicate at least 5-5 shape; partner should usually pass or correct to 3 H.

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

West
1 H
2 D
2 NT
East
1 S
2 H

This bid is obviously constructive and shows 17-18 points. Note that partner’s preference bid does not indicate normal heart support (usually a doubleton), so the best contract may be in notrump.

7.
S K 5 3
H A K 8 4 2
D 3
C A J 9 8
Table

West
1 H
2 C
2 S
East
1 S
2 H

Here you show 17-18 points with exactly 3 spades (you would have raised at your previous turn with 4). Of course you do not know that partner has 5 spades; but even if he has 4, the 4-3 spade fit may be as good or better than the 5-2 heart fit.

8.
S A K 9 2
H K 3
D 2
C A J 10 9 7 5
Table

West
1 C
1 S
3 C
East
1 H
1 NT

Here you must jump to make a constructive bid (17-18 points) to invite game. A simple bid of 2 C would be appropriate with a minimum opening bid because 6-4 shape is usually too extreme to play in notrump opposite a weak hand.

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If Responder Invites

When responder’s rebid invites game (10-12 points), you need less of an excuse to bid again. Usually you should pass only with a bare minimum opening.

If responder invites game, you should bid again with 15+ points or undisclosed suit length.

9.
S K 10 8
H 7
D A K 8 7 4
C K Q 9 3
Table

West
1 D
2 C
3 NT
East
1 H
3 C

You clearly have additional values plus a stopper in the unbid suit, so take a stab at 3 NT. This does not indicate a balanced hand — if your hand were balanced you would have bid notrump earlier.

10.
S 3
H A K 8 7 6 4
D K J 3
C J 7 6
Table

West
1 H
2 H
Pass
East
1 S
3 H

You have nothing extra so pass, especially in view of the misfit with partner’s spade suit. If your spades and clubs were switched, you should bid 4 H on the expectation that the hands would fit well.

11.
S Q 7 2
H A J 10 3 2
D 4
C A K 7 3
Table

West
1 H
2 C
3 S
East
1 S
2 NT

This sound hand is worth accepting, and there is a chance that partner has 5 spades. Indicating 3 spades will allow partner to place the contract with extreme accuracy — he knows your shape will be 3-5-1-4.

12.
S A 3
H K 9 6
D 3
C K J 8 7 6 5 3
Table

West
1 C
2 C
3 C
East
1 S
2 NT

Rebidding your minor suit over 2 NT is generally discouraging. You are warning partner that game is unlikely and that your hand is doubtful for notrump. If your clubs instead were A-K-J-x-x-x-x (with S x-x), you should take a chance and bid 3 NT hoping to run 7 club tricks.

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If Responder Forces

When responder makes a forcing rebid in a new suit (11+ points), you are required to bid again regardless of your hand.

With a bare minimum, bid at the cheapest level. With 15+ points bid at the 3 level or higher.

Observe that only a bid of 2 NT or lower confirms a bare minimum and allows responder to pass.

13.
S A J 9 4
H J 6 2
D K 4 3
C A 10 8
Table

West
1 C
1 S
2 H
East
1 H
2 D

As always it is a top priority to indicate 3 cards in partner’s first suit. This is the way to locate a 5-3 major fit, since partner will not rebid a 5 card suit on his own.

14.
S Q 8 2
H J 10 3
D A K 8 6 2
C A 5
Table

West
1 D
1 NT
3 H
East
1 H
2 C

You have 15 points, so bid at the 3 level. If partner does not wish to play in hearts, he can correct to 3 NT — remember that he promised 11+ points when he bid 2 C.

15.
S A K 8 2
H 3
D K J 10 8
C Q 9 7 3
Table

West
1 D
1 S
3 C
East
1 H
2 C

Even though partner’s 2 C bid is suspect, you should raise holding 4 trumps (do not jump raise). Partner will know you have 4-1-4-4 or 4-0-5-4 shape. If his next bid is anything but clubs, you should assume he does not want to play in clubs.

16.
S A 2
H A Q 8 4
D K 9 7 6
C 9 6 2
Table

West
1 D
1 NT
2 H
East
1 S
2 C

It is convenient to show your heart suit so bid 2 H; partner may also have 4 hearts and be too strong to bid 2 H (a weak bid) over your 1 NT. Partner already knows you have a balanced hand.

17.
S 8 2
H 3
D A Q 8 6 4 3
C K Q 10 4
Table

West
1 D
2 C
3 D
East
1 S
2 H

Your first 2 bids implied 5-4 shape so by bidding diamonds again you indicate at least 6-4 shape. It was good judgment to show the clubs before rebidding diamonds because of the good suit quality.

18.
S 2
H A K J 6 4 2
D K 7 5 2
C 4 2
Table

West
1 H
2 H
3 D
East
1 S
3 C

This sequence of bids also shows 6-4 shape, though it suggests that your second suit is weak. If you held H K-x-x-x-x-x and D A-K-J-x, it would be wiser to bid 2 D at your second turn followed by 3 H at your third turn.

19.
S 2
H A K J 7 6
D 4 3
C A Q J 9 2
Table

West
1 H
2 C
3 C
East
1 S
2 D

You show at least 5-5 shape by rebidding your second suit. Do not jump to the 4 level to show extra strength (3 NT may be right contract). When you make a nonjump bid at the 3 level, your exact strength is unclear and partner should bid again.

20.
S 2
H A 7 3
D K Q 8 5 4
C A 9 7 2
Table

West
1 D
2 C
2 NT
East
1 S
2 H

You have already indicated 5-4 shape (by bidding 2 suits), and you cannot support either of partner’s suits (you need 4 trumps to raise his second suit). Hence there is nothing else to bid but notrump.

21.
S A Q 8 4
H 8 2
D K 4
C A Q 9 7 2
Table

West
1 C
1 S
3 NT
East
1 H
2 D

This time you have additional strength so jump to 3 NT to ensure game is reached; remember that partner shows 11+ points. If you bid only 2 NT, partner should pass if he held only 11-12 points, then a game would be missed.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek