Main     Lesson 3G by Richard Pavlicek    

Overcalls

The opponents will open the bidding ahead of you about half the time, so it is important to have an effective defensive bidding structure. You and partner must be confident in the meanings of each other’s bids.

This lesson applies when an opponent opens the bidding with one of a suit — by far the most common opening bid — and you enter the bidding with a direct overcall.

One Level Suit Overcalls

An overcall at the one level serves a variety of purposes: It tells partner what to lead; it is a general nuisance to the opponents; and it may be the start of a constructive sequence by you and partner.

A one-level suit overcall shows 10-18 points and a 5+ card suit.

With only 10-12 points suit should be at least Q-J-x-x-x. With 13-18 points a 4 card suit (at least K-Q-J-x) is OK if no other action is appropriate.

Partner should respond at the cheapest level with 8-11 points.

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

West

2 S
North
1 H
Pass
East
1 S
Pass
South
Pass

West raises with three trumps, and East passes since game is far beyond reach.

2.
S K Q 4 3
H 8 2
D J 10 7 3
C K 10 2
TableS A 8 2
H A K J 10 3
D K 8 2
C Q 3

West

1 NT
North
1 C
Pass
East
1 H
3 NT
South
Pass

West indicates a club stopper (usually without heart support) and East bids game with his 17-point overcall.

3.
S 4
H Q 8 4
D 9 7 6
C A Q 10 8 7 6
TableS A K J 5 3
H K 7 2
D 10 8 4 2
C 4

West

2 C
North
1 D
Pass
East
1 S
Pass
South
Pass

The 2 C response is nonforcing and it denies spade support (else West should raise spades). East is not delighted but he should not rebid 2 S without six cards.

Invitational Responses

With 12 to 14 points you should usually make a jump response. This is invitational to game but nonforcing.

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

West

3 H
North
1 C
Pass
East
1 H
4 H
South
Pass

West is too strong to bid 2 H, and a 1 S response would imply no heart fit. East has more than a minimum overcall so he continues to game.

5.
S Q 3
H K J 4
D A Q 8 2
C J 10 8 7
TableS A J 9 7 2
H A 10 8
D 4 3
C 9 6 2

West

2 NT
North
1 D
Pass
East
1 S
Pass
South
Pass

West promises a diamond stopper and invites game in notrump. East rejects with his bare minimum overcall.

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

West

2 S
North
1 C
Pass
East
1 H
4 S
South
Pass

West’s jump to 2 S should contain at least six cards. It is nonforcing although East bids game with 13 points and adequate spade support.

Lebanese Lesson


There once was a man from Beirut
Who thought he would try to be cute.
 He overcalled a spade
 And died as he played.
The postmortem: a four-card suit!

Game-Going Responses

If your hand contains 15+ points, you may bid game directly if you are sure of the best contract. If you need to explore, remember that new suits and jumps are nonforcing.

A cue-bid of the enemy suit is the only forcing response.

7.
S K 8 4
H A J 2
D J 8 5 3
C A Q 9
TableS 9 7 6 2
H K 3
D A Q 10 9 7
C 4 3

West

3 NT
North
1 C
Pass
East
1 D
Pass
South
Pass

West is confident of the best contract so he bids it; there is no need to explore or to raise diamonds.

8.
S A K 9 4
H 9 6
D A 7 2
C K J 7 6
TableS 10 8 2
H A Q 10 7 2
D Q J 4
C Q 2

West

2 D
3 NT
North
1 D
Pass
Pass
East
1 H
2 NT
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

West has the strength to bid 3 NT over 1 H, but this may not be the right contract so he cue-bids the enemy suit. East rebids naturally to show his diamond stopper, and this resolves any doubt for West.

9.
S 2
H A K 8 4 3
D A K 6 5 2
C 9 7
TableS A K Q 8 3
H 10 7 2
D 7 4
C 8 4 2

West

2 C
3 H
North
1 C
Pass
Pass
East
1 S
2 S
4 H
South
Pass
Pass

West forces with 2 C, and East rebids his suit for lack of any other bid. West’s 3 H bid is forcing so East raises to game.

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Two Level Suit Overcalls

It is more dangerous to overcall at the two level, and it should not be done on hands of 10-12 points — sometimes you just have to pass.

A two-level suit overcall shows 13-18 points and a 5+ card suit.

Avoid overcalling at the two level with 13-15 points and a poor suit, especially vulnerable. This often leads to trouble.

Partner should respond at the cheapest level with 8-11 points.

10.
S A K 7 2
H 10 7 2
D 4 3
C J 9 7 2
TableS 3
H A Q J 9 8
D A 10 8 2
C 5 4 3

West

3 H
North
1 S
Pass
East
2 H
Pass
South
Pass

West raises to show three trumps and East passes with his minimum overcall.

11.
S K J 10 9 3
H A 8 2
D 2
C 9 7 6 2
TableS Q 8 2
H 9 3
D A K J 9 8 4
C A 3

West

2 S
North
1 H
Pass
East
2 D
4 S
South
Pass

The 2 S response is nonforcing. With a trump fit and 16 points East raises to game; with slightly less he should raise to 3 S.

With 12+ points make a jump response or cue-bid the enemy suit to force.

12.
S 9 7 5
H K J 8
D A Q 10 3
C Q 9 7
TableS A J 2
H 10 4
D 9 2
C A K 10 8 6 2

West

2 S
3 NT
North
1 S
Pass
Pass
East
2 C
2 NT
Pass
South
Pass
Pass

West is too strong to bid 3 C so he cue-bids 2 S to explore. East shows his spade stopper — just what West wanted to hear.

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Jump Suit Overcalls

A direct suit overcall that jumps the bidding is a weak bid.

A jump overcall of 2 D, 2 H or 2 S is like a weak two-bid. A bid of 3 C or higher is like a preemptive opening bid.

Partner should respond as he would to the same opening bid.

13.
S J 3
H K Q J 3
D A K 8 3
C 9 7 4
TableS K Q 9 8 7 6
H 8 2
D 9 4 2
C Q 2

West

2 NT
Pass
North
1 C
Pass
East
2 S
3 S
South
Pass
Pass

East shows a “weak two-bid” and West responds 2 NT (14+ points, forcing) to try for game. East rebids his suit to show a minimum so West gives up.

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One Notrump Overcall

An overcall of 1 NT is the same as an opening bid of 1 NT although it requires a stopper in the enemy suit.

An overcall of 1 NT shows 16 to 18 HCP and a balanced hand.

Optionally, you may include hands of 15 HCP. Then the range is 15-18.

Partner should respond as he would to a 1 NT opening bid.

14.
S 4
H K Q 6 3
D 9 7 6 2
C K 9 4 2
TableS A Q 8
H A J 7
D K 4 3
C Q J 10 7

West

2 C
2 NT
North
1 S
Pass
Pass
East
1 NT
2 D
3 NT
South
Pass
Pass

The 1 S bid is essentially ignored. West uses Stayman in case East has four hearts. East shows no 4 card major, West invites game and East accepts with 17 HCP.

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Two Notrump Overcall

A direct jump overcall of 2 NT is nothing like a 2 NT opening bid. It is the “unusual notrump.”

An overcall of 2 NT shows 10+ points with at least 5-5 shape in the two lowest unbid suits.

Another way to show a two-suiter is the Michaels cue-bid (not covered in this lesson but highly recommended).

Partner should choose between the suits shown.

15.
S K Q 6 4 3
H J 8 6 4 3
D 2
C K 2
TableS 8
H 2
D A K 10 4 3
C J 9 8 7 5 3

West

3 C
North
1 S
Pass
East
2 NT
Pass
South
Pass

East shows both minors and West indicates his preference for clubs.

16.
S A 9 4 3
H A 10 5 3
D 9 7 5 3
C 3
TableS 8
H Q J 9 6 2
D A 2
C K J 9 8 5

West

4 H
North
1 D
Pass
East
2 NT
Pass
South
Pass

East shows clubs and hearts (diamonds were bid). West is obliged to bid 3 H just to show a preference, so with an excellent supporting hand he jumps to game.

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Three Notrump Overcall

An overcall of 3 NT shows 16 to 20 HCP, a strong 6+ card minor and a stopper in the enemy suit.

17.
S Q 10 8 5 3
H 6 4 3
D 2
C Q J 6 4
TableS A 4
H K 2
D A K Q J 6 5 3
C 8 3

West
North
1 H
East
3 NT
South

East is simply bidding what he expects to make (with a heart lead). It is acceptable to have an unbid suit unprotected.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek