Main     Ask Richard 9R01 by Richard Pavlicek    

Partnership Bidding

This page contains selected queries to “Ask Richard” about partnership bidding, although discussion sometimes includes other topics. Presentation is reverse-chronological (most recent first). Queries and followups appear in this color, and Richard’s replies are in black. Names, greetings and personal messages have been removed to respect privacy and focus on bridge.

Unnecessary suit bidsOctober 9, 2012 (9S70)

West
1 S
2 S
3 S
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
2 D
3 H
3 NT
South
Pass
Pass
AP
IMPs
None Vul
 North
 
 
 
S A Q 8 7 5 2
H 8 7
D A 6
C K 6 4
TableS K 10
H A K 10 6
D Q 9 7 4
C A J 8

3 NT East

I would appreciate your advice and recommended bid sequence.

The problem arises from bidding suits for no reason. When I bid 2-over-1 it shows 5+ cards, so my auction begins: 1 S 2 NT (natural 15+); 3 S 4 NT (quantitative). West certainly has extra (most would open without the C K) so the good 6 NT would be reached.

If the 2 D response is forced by system (e.g., if 2 NT is Jacoby) East should continue with 2 NT (forcing) over 2 S; then 4 NT over 3 NT.

West also gets some blame, as his third spade bid was wrong (twice was enough). Instead he should show his club stopper with 3 NT, over which East can invite with 4 NT.

Fourth suit raiseSeptember 20, 2012 (9S66)

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 D
2 C
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
2 H
 ?
Matchpoints
None Vul
S
H A J 9 2
D K 9 7 3
C A J 10 9 3
 
 
 
 
Table
S A Q 7 5 2
H Q 10 7
D 4
C K 6 5 2

What would responder expect opener’s heart holding to be? It seems that the most likely game is 4 H, but how can N-S get there and know what they are doing? Finally, do you agree with the FSF call, or would you have preferred some other bid by responder?

Opener shows four hearts. General principle is that raising the fourth suit should be true (unless opener denied four) since responder may be improvising. For many (including me) opener could also be 1=4=4=4 since I don’t rebid 1 NT with a stiff spade (except maybe an honor).

I like the 2 H bid. At matchpoints I would take the good shot at 4 H, as there rates to be a trick shortage in 3 NT, and trying for 5 C is like aiming for mediocrity. Closer decision at IMPs, but I’d still probably try 4 H. Auctions like this often draw a trump lead, which may be helpful with the club suit available for tricks.

Improvisational comedySeptember 6, 2012 (9S61)

West

Pass
Pass
AP
North

2 C
3 H
East

Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 D!
4 H
Matchpoints
E-W Vul
S J 8 7
H K J 3
D Q J
C A K 10 8 4
S A 6 3
H 5 2
D A 9 3 2
C J 7 6 3
TableS K 10 9 5
H Q 8 4
D 7 6 5 4
C 5 2

4 H South
Lead: H 5
made 5 +450
S Q 4 2
H A 10 9 7 6
D K 10 8
C Q 9

West protested my 2 D bid with only three cards. I claimed it was standard in a 2-over-1 GF system to temporize and allow responder to further describe his hand. For example, 1 H P 1 NT P; 2 C (or 2 D) is often a 3-card suit. I feel my bid was better than a standard 2 NT rebid. Am I right?

In a word, no. Rebids after 2-over-1 are not analogous to those after 1 NT forcing. The main purpose of 2-over-1 game forcing is to be able to bid naturally freely, so 2 D shows a suit. You mention giving responder time to describe his hand, but it’s more important for opener to do so, because responder is a step ahead in acquiring information and thus more likely to be able to place the contract.

What I think you were trying to do is compensate for the light opening (pass is normal) fearing partner might think 2 NT showed extra. It does not as I play; either 12-14 or 18-19 (with 15-17 I jump to 3 NT).

If you have an agreement with partner that 2 D can be three cards (as after 1 NT forcing) West has a legitimate gripe, though I doubt a committee would change the result (West’s lead seems pretty normal at matchpoints, and six can be made if declarer infers West’s passivity to indicate a club stopper). Of course, if you just improvised 2 D, West has no gripe.

Yes, a committee rejected the protest. And yes, it was an improvisation by me; no 6-card heart suit and worried about a spade lead. I felt responder with 13+ HCP was in a better position to bid notrump.

Stayman double troubleJuly 14, 2012 (9S49)

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

2 C
3 NT?
Pass?
East

Dbl
Pass
Pass
South
1 NT
2 D?
4 H?
Matchpoints
None Vul
S 8 5 3
H A 7 5 4
D Q 10 6 4 2
C A
 
 
 
 
Table



4 H South
S A 10 4
H K Q 9
D A K J 7 3
C 7 2

To me, 2 D showed at least five diamonds. With no 4-card major, and without the diamond suit, I would either pass the double, or with good clubs (unlikely), redouble. Three notrump is the top spot; but scared to death of the club suit, I bid 4 H expecting to play in a 4-3 fit. Hearts were 5-1 and the contract failed. Partner was most unhappy, saying she had no clue I held five diamonds. I think she should raise to 3 D, with a view to a possible 6 D contract (with a club more and a spade or heart less it would be a rock). Outside of 3 NT, the normal contract would be 5 D. Both my partner and East said I should have bid 3 D to show five. What is your opinion?

First, 2 D shows only four diamonds (or more); standard expert practice is to pass with four clubs or redouble with four good clubs (or 5). Most would not allow a jump to 3 D (or reserve it to show an off-shape notrump with six diamonds) since partner might have a weak hand with both majors intending to rebid 2 H.

Nobody did anything terrible; basically just unfortunate decisions. North might have bid 3 D (forcing) over 2 D, but it’s hard to fault 3 NT when it’s the winning decision. You might have passed 3 NT, but there certainly are cases where 4 H or 5 D is better, or even 4 S if North has something like S K-Q-J-x H J-x-x D x-x C A-x-x-x. North might have bid 5 D over 4 H, but pass is fine; note that 4 H outscores 5 D when hearts are 4-2 or 3-3.

TopMain

Multicolored rebidJune 20, 2012 (9S43)

West

Pass
North

2 S2
East

Pass
South
2 D1
 ?
IMPs
N-S Vul
 North
 
 
 
 
 
 
Table
1. multi, usually 6+ major, 7-10
2. inviting game if opener has hearts
S A 9 8
H Q J 9 6 3 2
D J 6 5 2
C

Opener might also have a strong hand with 6+ cards in a minor, or 21-23 balanced. Should South now bid 3 H or 4 H?

While I don’t use multi, I’ve played a lot against it. If 2 S invites in hearts (implying dislike for spades) South definitely should bid 4 H — and hope to buy it, as East-West probably have a good sacrifice in 4 S at the vulnerability.

I’ve always wondered how the multi structure handles a single-suited spade hand with a heart void; e.g., suppose North has S K-J-10-x-x-x D A-x-x-x C x-x-x. Imagine having to bid 2 H and finding South with the above hand; while 2 S will get you 4 H and maybe the paramedics with a stretcher.

Upgrade or downgradeJune 17, 2012 (9S39)

West
North
1 S
East
Pass
South
 ?
IMPs
N-S Vul
 North
 
 
 
 
 
 
Table
S A K 5 4
H K 10 7 6
D 10 5
C 10 6 2

Choices are 1 NT followed by a jump to 3 S, which could be three or four trumps (an immediate 3 S shows shortage); or 3 NT, a balanced limited GF spade raise. Vulnerable at IMPs, with strong trump support that might stop partner from continuing, I elected the aggressive bid, which might also stop West from entering the auction. Our hands did not mesh well (S Q-J-x-x-x H A D A-x-x C Q-x-x-x). Comments?

While I don’t play that system, the hand is worth a limit raise and no more. If partner opened 1 H, I might agree with you; but after 1 S the hand is nothing special. For one thing, there rates to be overkill in trumps (10 HCP). Partner knows the value of a vulnerable game too, so if he passes a limit raise I would be comfortable. In fact, I would accept with the hand you show (switch the minors and 4 S is sound).

Another problem with showing a game-forcing raise is the danger of getting overboard when partner is thinking slam.

Black swan sagaMay 11, 2012 (9S35)

West

Pass
North

1 H
East

Pass
South
1 C
 ?
IMPs
E-W Vul
 North
 
 
 
 
 
 
Table
S A 10 4 2
H 2
D 8
C K Q J 8 6 5 4

I chose to rebid 2 C. Our opponents, who are good at the club level, thought this to be absurd. Your thoughts?

Rebidding 2 C is certainly reasonable but not my choice. It’s easy to picture hands where 4 S is the best contract, and after 2 C partner will never believe any spade bid or raise by you shows four. In contrast, if you rebid 1 S you can still show long clubs unambiguously.

Shapely reverseJanuary 31, 2012 (9S20)

West

Pass
1 S
North

1 C
 ?
East

Pass
South
Pass
1 D
Matchpoints
Both Vul
S 10
H A J 8 7 3
D 8
C A Q J 8 7 5
S K Q J 9 5
H K 6 5
D J 6 3
C 9 4
TableS 6 4 3 2
H Q 9
D K Q 7 4
C K 10 3
S A 8 7
H 10 4 2
D A 10 9 5 2
C 6 2

Do you approve of North’s 1 C opening vs. 1 H? And can North bid 2 H over 1 S, or would this be a reverse showing a stronger hand?

This is borderline, and expert consensus would probably be closely split. I would definitely open 1 C at IMPs, but at matchpoints I might go with 1 H — or I might not. If the suit qualities were flipped, say S x H A-Q-J-8-7 D x C A-J-8-7-x-x, 1 H would be a clear choice.

Bidding 2 H over 1 S is a “reverse” by definition, however, most players (including me) allow the strength to be shaded with 6-5 shape. One thing’s for sure: If you open 1 C, you definitely bid 2 H next (even if partner responds 1 S) then 3 H; otherwise you should open 1 H. Note that on a good day you might make 4 H opposite just one ace and three trumps.

TopMain

Invitation acceptedDecember 2, 2011 (9S12)

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 S
 ?
East

Pass
South
1 D
3 D
Total points
None Vul
S A K 9 7 4 3
H A 9 5
D 8 5
C K 7
 
 
 
 
Table
S Q 2
H K 7 3
D A K Q 7 6 4 2
C 2

After an invitational jump by opener, is repeating an old suit forcing? Would 3 S by North be forcing?

Yes and yes. Expert consensus is that bidding over an invitation is deemed to accept the invitation, but there are exceptions on the third round. If a suit is bid three times, e.g., 1 DS; 2 CS; 2 NT 3 S, or 1 CH; 1 SC; 2 NT 3 C, it is logically nonforcing even though opener has invited game.

True confessionNovember 23, 2011 (9S08)

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 S
2 H
 ?
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 NT
3 D
Matchpoints
None Vul
S K Q J 9 7
H A Q 10 6 2
D 9 7
C 2
 
 
 
 
Table
S 4
H J 4 3
D K 10 5 4 3 2
C A 6 5

What should North call at this point?

Either pass or 3 H, a close decision. Always the optimist, I’d probably go for 3 H which catches well. South would raise to 4 H, which is a favorite to make. Of course this is mostly luck on the occasion, as my gut feeling is that passing 3 D may be the percentage call.

South made a dubious bid in 3 D. With a bad suit and no indication of support, I would pass 2 H, particularly at matchpoints to play the higher ranking partial. A closer decision at IMPs, with the off chance of game.

I was the one who made the dubious 3 D bid. I didn’t like it, but with 8 HCP and knowing my partner doesn’t open light, I was hoping for more. I thought partner should have shown his 5-5 shape, but he passed. According to the analysis, 4 H does make.

Believe it or notSeptember 16, 2011 (9S01)

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 NT
3 C
East
Pass
Pass
Dbl
South
1 C
2 H
AP
Matchpoints
Both Vul
S 7 6 5 4
H K 3
D Q 6 5 4
C 9 4 2
S 10 9 2
H 7 6 2
D A K 9 2
C Q 8 6
TableS A K J
H A 10 8 5
D J 10 8 3
C 5 3

3 C× South
Lead: D K
down 2 -500
S Q 8 3
H Q J 9 4
D 7
C A K J 10 7

What is the proper bidding? Also, what is the proper play in 3 C?

Wow, time to expand the Ripley museum. East passes with a routine 1 D opening then gets lucky with a random double. North bypasses his suits to respond 1 NT on garbage vulnerable. And worst of all, South makes a reverse bid — or more aptly a perverse bid — with a minimum opening. See Rebids by Opener for the requirements of a reverse bid.

A normal auction would begin 1 D by East, then South would double for takeout (better than 2 C). A lot now depends on what West does, but N-S should not bid beyond 1 S or 2 C.

As far as the play in clubs, there is no way to avoid four top losers and a trump trick, but declarer should win the remaining eight. West is obliged to help at trick two, so South should eventually enjoy the S Q despite the limited entries to dummy.

No reverseMay 20, 2011 (9R96)

West
Pass
North
 ?
East
South
Matchpoints
N-S Vul
S A K Q 6 5
H K Q 8 7 6
D 6 3
C K
S J 7
H 10 4
D J 9 8 7
C A Q J 6 4
TableS 10 9 2
H A 9 2
D 10 5 4
C 8 7 3 2
S 8 4 3
H J 5 3
D A K Q 2
C 10 9 5

Should North open 1 H and reverse into spades? Or open 1 S and jump shift to 3 H?

A reverse bid should not be made with 5-5 shape (first suit must be longer) so opening 1 S is routine. Assuming five-card majors, South should raise to 2 S and North should bid 4 S. Once raised in spades, I wouldn’t even bid the hearts since slam is far-fetched, and keeping the suit hidden may benefit the play — especially with the tendency to lead the unbid major.

TopMain

Painted into a cornerMarch 20, 2011 (9R72)

West
1 D
1 S
 ?
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 H
1 NT
South
Pass
Pass
IMPs
Both Vul
 North
 
 
 
S A Q 10 6
H 6
D A K Q 9 7 3
C A 7
Table

What should West bid now? And what would 2 C, 3 C and 3 D mean?

Two clubs would be natural showing a 3-suiter, 3 C would be the same but stronger (invitational), and 3 D would show 6+ diamonds (invitational). Unfortunately, none of these bids fit the hand. What then? Back up a round, as you seem to have a blind spot. Over 1 H, opener has a routine jump shift to 2 S (game force) after which the bidding will flow smoothly with all bids forcing below game.

Twelve round cardsFebruary 26, 2011 (9R65)

West
North
 ?
East
South
Matchpoints
E-W Vul
S K J 10 6
H A Q 8 5
D A 9 6
C 10 6
S Q 9 8 4 3
H 9 7 3
D J 4 2
C K 7
TableS A 7 5 2
H K 4
D K Q 10 8 5 3
C 3
S
H J 10 6 2
D 7
C A Q J 9 8 5 4 2

How should the N-S hands be bid in a 2-over-1 GF system?

I would upgrade the North hand (good spots, favorable vulnerability) and open 1 NT, then a lot depends on what East does. If East bids 2 D (natural), South bids 3 C (forcing by Lebensohl methods); North should bid 3 H (3 NT is poor judgment without a club fit and just the ace stopper); then 4 H.

If North opens 1 D, this should silent East; then 2 C (not GF after 1 D), and a lot depends on system. Unless opener bids 2 H, I would rebid 3 C as South. I suspect many would get to 3 NT, which is crushed by diamond leads.

Best contract is 6 C (doomed here) which needs barely more than one of two finesses, though I can’t imagine bidding it on 22 HCP.

Six-four decisionFebruary 19, 2011 (9R63)

West

2 H1
 ?
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 NT
2 S2
South
Pass
Pass
Matchpoints
E-W Vul
 North
 
 
 
S Q J 10 9 6 5
H 2
D J 9 4 3
C 7 2
Table
1. transfer 2. denies max with 3+ spades

What should West bid now?

The success of game (4 S) probably depends on where partner’s HCP are rather than how many, but with no way to find out it seems best to take the middle road and invite with 3 S. Passing 2 S is barely acceptable but too timid for me. At IMPs I would go long (immediate Texas transfer to 4 S) since the odds favor stretching for vulnerable games.

The late, great Grant Baze said it best with, “Six four, bid one more!”

Help-suit hangupFebruary 1, 2011 (9R55)

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 H
3 H2
East

Pass
AP
South
1 H
2 S1
Matchpoints
N-S Vul
S 6 4 3 2
H 9 5 4
D A
C A 8 7 4 3
S 10 8
H 7
D K 10 9 7 4 3 2
C Q 9 2
TableS K J 5
H K J 8
D Q J 6
C K J 6 5
1. help-suit game try 2. no help in spades


3 H South
made 5 +200
S A Q 9 7
H A Q 10 6 3 2
D 8 5
C 10

How should North and South have bid these hands?

Under assumed names? Both were way off base. South should bid 4 H immediately over 2 H, as the hand revalues to 19 points by my method (see Pavlicek Point Count). Further, keeping the spade suit hidden increases your chances immensely, as the “unbid major” is a common lead.

North may have bid even worse. The spade holding is unattractive, but two aces make up for that. Perhaps a waiting move of 3 C is best, but almost anything besides 3 H is OK. The main purpose of any game try is to find out if partner is minimum or maximum; the “help suit” factor merely allows judgment in close cases.

Help-suit game tries are an inferior method, as information about the closed hand is revealed, which often aids the defense and decreases your chances. Over 25 years ago I devised a Relay Major-Suit Game Try which removes this defect.

TopMain

Four-by-one fareDecember 27, 2010 (9R38)

West

1 D
 ?
North

Pass
East

1 S
South
Pass
Pass
Matchpoints
E-W Vul
S J 2
H K 10
D J 8 7 3
C J 10 7 5 3
S 5
H J 9 7 3
D A K 9 2
C A K 9 2
TableS A 10 8 6 4
H Q 8 4
D Q 6 5
C Q 6
S K Q 9 7 3
H A 6 5 2
D 10 4
C 8 4

What should West bid now, and how should the auction continue?

Two clubs, and I think 90 percent of experts would agree. I would then consider the East hand to be invitational strength (upgrading the minor-suit queens) and bid 2 H (fourth suit forcing); West raises to 3 H (forcing since 4 H is barred) then 3 NT by East.

For my treatment of fourth suit forcing auctions see Forcing vs. Limit Style.

Ogust not so robustDecember 7, 2010 (9R31)

West
2 H
North
Pass
East
 ?
South
Matchpoints
None Vul
S Q 6 2
H J 10 7
D 9 8 3 2
C Q J 10
S 7 4
H A 8 6 4 3 2
D 5
C K 9 4 2
TableS A K 9 8
H Q
D A K J 10 6 4
C 7 3
S J 10 5 3
H K 9 5
D Q 7
C A 8 6 5

What should East bid? East-West play Ogust.

I would expect the H Q to be a good card (though useless here) and just bid 4 H, which is odds-on to be the best contract. This reveals nothing more to the defense, and sometimes will incite dubious action, since I would bid the same way with a weak hand and a fit.

Too bad this time, as 4 H should be set. After the C Q lead, I don’t see a way to avoid a trump promotion (losing a club and three hearts).

Preempt or not?October 4, 2010 (9R06)

West
 ?
North
East
South
IMPs
Both Vul
 North
 
 
 
S K J 2
H 9 3
D K Q 9 7 6 4 3
C 7
Table

You play a 2/1 system (with reverse Drury). Do you open the bidding with 3 D?

Yes. The hand is in range trickwise (6 1/2 playing tricks by my estimate) for a vulnerable 3-bid. While the good spade holding is a defect, giving the opponents a free run by passing is a bigger defect. In the long run I’m confident that bidding will gain over passing. Some experts would prefer 2 D (if weak), and a few would stretch and open 1 D (make the spades A-J-2 and 1 D stands out).

Puppet invasionSeptember 26, 2010 (9R01)

West
1 NT
North
Pass
East
 ?
South
IMPs
E-W Vul
 North
 
 
TableS K 8 5 3 2
H 10 8 7 3
D 4
C Q J 6

My partner and I use the Pavlicek System version of puppet Stayman. How should East bid?

Transfer to spades and pass. These situations seldom swing many IMPs, so it’s a small sacrifice to give up garbage Stayman. In fact, I’ve had mixed results the old way; I’d bid 2 C intending to sign off then upon hearing a major be worth an invitation, only to get overboard. Transferring also allows partner to superaccept, which is probably the only realistic time to bid game.

TopMain

© 2012 Richard Pavlicek