Lesson 3D   Main

Rebids by Responder

by Richard Pavlicek

One of the problem areas in bidding for many players is responder’s second bid; specifically, the auctions that begin with a one-over-one suit response and a rebid by opener at or below two of his original suit. That is the subject of this lesson.

In most situations responder is the captain since he knows more about opener’s hand than opener knows about his hand. It is responder’s duty to choose the contract, or at least to guide the partnership in the right direction.

This lesson explains the bidding rules that responder should follow, and it offers some advanced tips to overcome the limitations imposed by standard bidding.

The Ground Rules

In order to have a sound bidding framework you must follow rules that, barring exceptions, apply in general situations by the responder. These are summarized below.

Rule 1

Any bid below 2 NT (except a new suit) is nonforcing. This shows 6 to 10 points.

Rule 2

A nonjump 2 NT or a nonjump raise to the 3 level is invitational. This shows 10 to 12 points.

Rule 3

A new suit bid is forcing. This shows 11 points or more.

Rule 4

A jump bid is forcing to game. This shows 13 points or more.

Rule 5

Do not rebid your original suit with only 5 cards.

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Weak Hands

There is a belief among a lot of players that responder must have 10 points or more to bid twice. Wrong! It is often necessary to bid twice to reach the best partscore.

Examples 1-6 illustrate a variety of rebids that indicate 6-10 points. Note that they all follow Rule 1.

 1. Partner1 1 You1 2 Q J 7 2 K J 8 7 6 3 10 7 5

Your raise shows the same strength as an immediate raise to 2, but in this case you should always have 4 trumps.

 2. Partner1 2 You1 2 9 7 2 Q J 9 8 7 2 Q 8 3 3

Rebidding the same suit indicates 6 or more cards.

 3. Partner1 1 You1 1 NT 4 2 A J 9 7 3 J 10 8 2 Q 3

It would be poor to rebid 2 as partner may have a singleton (5-1 fits are terrible). 1 NT should be a reasonable contract since partner bid clubs and spades.

 4. Partner1 1 NT You1 2 4 2 A J 9 7 3 J 10 8 2 Q 3

Here is a case in which you may violate Rule 5 since partner showed 2 or 3 hearts. The spade weakness is likely to make 1 NT inferior. Compare Example 3.

 5. Partner1 2 You1 2 Q J 9 7 6 J 2 K 9 6 3 4 2

When partner bids two suits, a minimum bid in his first suit is not a raise; it is a preference bid. It would be unwise to rebid 2 , and your hand is too weak to bid 2  (forcing) or 2 NT (invitational).

 6. Partner1 2 You1 Pass K 9 7 5 3 Q J 8 4 2 6 5 4

You are not strong enough to bid 2 (forcing), and a rebid of 2 would be foolish. Even though you are not thrilled about it, 2  may be the best contract.

Special Cases

Besides the conditions of Rule 1 there are two exceptional situations in which responder may bid twice with a weak hand.

After a 1 response to a minor-suit opening and a 1 NT rebid by opener, a bid of 2 is nonforcing. This shows 6-10 points.

 7. Partner1 1 NT You1 2 K 9 7 5 3 Q J 8 4 2 6 5 4

Note that your hand is the same as in Example 6, but now you can bid because of the 1 NT rebid. Partner should choose between your two suits (pass or bid 2 ).

If responder is able to rebid 1 , this requires only 6+ points because the bidding is so low. It is forcing and unlimited.

 8. Partner1 1 You1 1 Q 9 6 4 2 A 8 7 6 5 9 3 2

This is the only possible sequence that permits a 1 rebid. Bidding up-the-line is necessary to avoid missing a spade fit in case opener also has 4 spades.

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Invitational Hands

When responder has 11-12 points, and sometimes 10 points, his goal is to invite game. In many cases this is easily done with Rule 2.

 9. Partner1 2 You1 2 NT A K 9 8 2 4 2 9 6 2 K J 3

You indicate a stopper in the unbid suit (clubs) and invite partner to bid again if he holds more than a minimum opening.

 10. Partner1 2 You1 3 7 5 A J 9 7 2 Q 2 K J 9 4

You show 4 clubs and invite partner to bid again. You cannot bid notrump without a stopper in the unbid suit (spades).

 11. Partner1 2 You1 3 A K 6 4 10 2 9 6 3 K J 9 3

Partner shows 6 hearts so you can raise with 2. Partner should pass with a bare minimum opening; else bid 4 .

 12. Partner1 1 NT You1 2 K Q 9 5 3 6 2 A Q 6 3 8 3

You are not specifically inviting game (2 is forcing, 11+ points) but you are not sure that notrump is the best contract. Partner might have 3 spades.

Problem Hands

Occasionally the bidding is such that responder has no way to invite game. The “standard” solution is to overbid to show 13 points or underbid to show 6-10 points, but this is an evasion not a solution.

The only true solution is to use Rule 3 to your advantage. Since a new suit bid is forcing, it is not absolutely necessary that responder holds 4 cards.

Most experienced players solve problem hands by manufacturing a forcing bid. This is typically called “new minor forcing” or “fourth suit forcing,” but really it is just using your system’s resources.

 13. Partner1 1 NT You1 2 A Q 9 6 2 A 4 2 9 2 J 10 3

You have the strength for 2 NT but there is a good chance that spades will be a better contract. Partner will further describe his hand, with the emphasis on showing three-card spade support. In the rare event that partner raises to 3 , you will bid 3 NT.

 14. Partner1 1 You1 2 K J 9 4 A K 8 2 9 7 9 4 3

You are too strong for 2 (6-10 points) and too weak for 3 (13+ points). Your bid of 2 may seem bizarre, but it is forcing and promises 11+ points. At your next turn you will raise spades to show 11-12 points.

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Game Going Hands

When responder has 13 points or more his second bid should be a jump (Rule 4) if appropriate; else a new suit bid (Rule 3).

 15. Partner1 1 You1 3 8 6 2 A K 8 2 A Q 9 6 4 3

Your jump is forcing to game. The reason for not bidding 4 is that you might have a slam (partner may have up to 18 points) and the extra bidding room may be needed.

 16. Partner1 1 You1 3 9 2 A K J 6 2 8 2 K Q 9 7

Your jump raise does not mean the hand must play in clubs; only that you must reach game. Partner next may bid 3  with 3 hearts or 3 NT with a diamond stopper.

 17. Partner1 2 You1 3 A Q 9 8 6 2 3 A 4 3 K 8 2

Any jump in the same suit shows at least 6 cards. If partner has a singleton, he probably will bid 3 NT which you will pass.

 18. Partner1 1 You1 2 NT K 7 6 2 A Q J 10 5 4 K 4 2

You could jump to 3 (forcing) but the hand is destined for notrump. With K-x in the unbid suit you should try to be declarer.

 19. Partner1 1 NT You1 4 Q J 10 6 3 2 9 K J 5 K Q 3

You know exactly where you want to play (partner must have 2 or 3 spades) so just sign off in game.

 20. Partner1 2 You1 2 A 10 8 4 K Q 10 8 2 A 3 4 3

It would be wrong to jump to 3 NT as partner might have 3 hearts.

Problem Hands

Here also you will find occasional hands that require a manufactured bid to force partner to bid again.

 21. Partner1 1 You1 2 K 5 3 A Q 10 5 4 A J 6 3 2

If you don’t like the 2 bid, ask yourself what you would bid. See the problem? Partner’s next bid is likely to be helpful.

 22. Partner1 1 NT You1 2 K Q 7 6 3 5 4 A 7 2 A 10 2

Your heart holding is dangerous and partner might have 3 spades. Take your time; you can always bid 3 NT next turn.

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