Main   Lesson 5T by Richard Pavlicek  

Favorite Conventions

This lesson illustrates five of my favorite bridge conventions. They are proved to be effective, easy to learn and — most important — fun to use. So why not add a little spice to your game!

Two-over-1 Game Force

This agreement is based on simple logic: A 2-over-1 response usually leads to game, so why not remove any worry about passing? Bidding space is conserved when there is no need to jump. The basic rule is:

After a major opening and the next opponent’s pass, a new suit response at the two level by an unpassed hand shows 13+ points and is forcing to game.

Note that 2/1 GF does not apply after minor openings (2 C over 1 D is standard), and it does not apply after an enemy overcall or double.

Responder’s 2 NT rebid is unlimited and forcing. In standard bidding responder has to jump to 3 NT, then opener has to guess whether to bid 4 H or pass.

The 3 H bid sounds invitational but it is unlimited and forcing. Opener shows extra values with 4 D (a control-bid), then responder takes charge with Blackwood.

Responder marks time with 2 NT (showing a spade stopper) then makes a natural slam try over 3 NT. Opener has a dismal hand so he rejects by returning to 4 NT.

Sorry, I don’t play any of this 2-over-1 stuff.

I guess not! You couldn’t count that high.

Since all bids are forcing, a jump shows a solid suit. Opener’s 3 S says “spades will be trumps,” responder shows heart control, then Blackwood leads to the easy slam.


If responder immediately rebids his suit, it shows an 11-12 point hand and opener may pass.

Responder’s 3 D is the only rebid that opener may pass below game, which he does with a minimum. If responder had a better hand, he must find another rebid.


One Notrump Forcing

A corollary to using 2/1 GF is that a 1 NT response to a major must include hands of up to 11-12 points. Hence, it is forcing for one round. Opener rebids as in standard, with one notable difference:

If opener would pass the 1 NT response in standard bidding, he should bid a 3 card minor suit.

Opener would pass 1 NT in standard bidding so he rebids 2 C, then responder invites game with 2 NT (11-12 points). Opener has nothing extra so he passes.

Responder is too good for a direct 2 S so he uses 1 NT forcing and follows with a jump to 3 S (11-12 points) to invite game. Opener passes with his bare minimum.

Over 1 S, responder is too weak to bid 2 H (GF) so he bids 1 NT. Over 2 C he cannot bid 2 H (which shows 6-10 points as in standard) so he invites with 2 NT.


Reverse Drury

In standard bidding there is a serious problem when raising partner’s major opening as a passed hand. If you make a jump raise, you may be too high if partner has opened light; and if you underbid with a single raise, you may miss a game.

This problem is neatly solved with the Drury convention, which works like this:

If partner opens 1 H or 1 S in third or fourth seat and the next opponent passes, a 2 C response is artificial (11+ points).

Opener must then bid 2 D (artificial) with a normal opening, or 2 H or 2 S if he opened light.

The term “reverse” Drury refers to the nature of opener’s rebids. This is better than regular Drury, in which rebidding the major shows the normal opening.

With a normal opening, opener should always bid 2 D. Responder then bids 2 H to suggest minimum values (11 points) and opener carries on to game with 15 points.

Having opened light (good strategy to direct a spade lead), opener is required to bid two of his major (this does not show extra length) and responder is warned.


Weak Jump Shifts

In standard bidding a jump shift response to an opening bid of one of a suit shows 17+ points. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, but in practice it seldom occurs and when it does there are other ways to bid a strong hand (especially if you play 2/1 GF).

Therefore, if you like to bid (and who doesn’t?), you will get more opportunities with this agreement:

After partner’s opening bid of one of a suit, any jump response in an unbid suit is weak.

Warning: If your partnership also plays splinter bids, it is important to have firm agreements which convention has priority, especially in competition.

Typically, this shows a six-card suit and 2-5 HCP at the two level; or a seven-card suit and 2-7 HCP at the three level. But the length may be one less if the suit is meaty.

Responder shows a “terrible hand” with long spades, and opener wisely passes with the misfit. Note how awkward the auction would be in standard bidding.

Responder shows a weak hand with long hearts, and opener has enough extra values to carry on to game. Take away the C K and opener should pass 3 H.


Inverted Minor Raises

The standard structure of minor-suit raises goes against the grain of efficient bidding. With a weak raise you will almost never buy the contract at two, so it is desirable to bid three to inhibit the opponents. With a good raise you need more room to explore for the best contract, so it is desirable to bid two.

The obvious solution is to “invert” the meanings of these raises. With or without interference, I recommend these agreements:

A jump raise to 3 C or 3 D shows 6-9 points.

A raise to 2 C or 2 D shows 10+ points, no four-card major, and is forcing for one round.

After the single raise opener should bid 2 NT or three of the same minor with a minimum. Bidding a new suit shows extra values and is forcing.

Opener must bid again over 2 D, and with no heart stopper, 3 D is clearly better than 2 NT. Responder has minimum values for his single raise so he passes.

Opener shows extra values by bidding a new suit (forcing). Responder then can place the contract in notrump, having a stopper in both unbid suits.


© 2012 Richard Pavlicek