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A. DEFINITION: ‑ The bidding of partner's cards in the reopening position, (The so‑called
"PASS-OUT SEAT”, or 4th seat relative to the last previous call or bid
other than a pass) is commonly called "BALANCING". It is called this
because the bidding presumes that the partner has the balance of strength.
This presumption is based upon the the opponent's bidding (or, in this case,
the lack thereof) and the points the player in the forth chair is NOT looking
at in his/her own hand.
Example‑ (1C/1D/1H/1S) P P ???
The use of balancing bids will be a source of considerable profit to a
partnership when used properly in situations in which the opposing bidding has stopped at
a low level and where the bidding would otherwise cease. In order to balance effectively,
however, it is extremely necessary to make and understand adjustments in the meaning of
such competitive tools such as doubles, overcalls, no‑trump bids. cue‑bids, and jump-
overcalls. Such tools all have altered meanings when used in the balancing position.
B. BALANCING DOUBLES: ‑ A balancing double does not promise the same strength and distribution as does a direct take‑out double. One may make a balancing double with as few as 8‑9 HCP's along with any reasonable holding and support for the unbid suits.
Suppose, for example, a 1H bid is passed around to you in the fourth seat (balancing chair), and you hold any of the following hands: In all three examples, one should "DOUBLE".
NOTE: ‑ If 1H were bid to your immediate right, one
(a) KJIOX X KlOXX AQXX would have doubled with (a), overcalled 2D with (b),
(b) KX XX AKQJX JlOXX and passed with example (c). In the balancing seat,
(c) AXX X KlOXXX QlOXX however, one should double with (a),(b),and (c), and
then clarifying exactly which of the three one holds
via the rebid. Thus, if partner does not convert your double to a penalty double by passing; i.e., if partner had previously "TRAP-PASSED", but instead, for example, alternatively bids 1S, you would respond as follows: With
(a) you will raise to 2S suggesting values for any direct take‑out double.
(b) you will rebid 2D indicating that you had had a good 2D overcall but elected to double in case partner was "TRAPPING".
(c) Pass since you have a minimum balancing double.
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C. RESPONSES TO BALANCING DOUBLES: ‑ The response to a balancing double requires better judgment than does bidding over partner's direct take‑out double. Remember, partner may have made a balancing double on a much wider range of hands; i.e., he/she may not have good support for ail of the unbid suits, and the strength of his/her hand may be considerably below the values required for a direct take‑out double.
(1) A bid of any unbid suit at the cheapest level = 7‑11 HCP's.
(2) Any jump response = a hand with opening strength, previously passed.
(3) A jump to 2NT = A good opening bid with opener's suit well‑stopped.
(4) A jump to 3NT = values for a strong 1NT opening with opener's suit under
D. BALANCING OVERCALLS: ‑ A constructive alternative to the balancing double is a
balancing overcall. As with a balancing double, a balancing overcall does not require the same strength and suit quality that is necessary for a direct overcall.
1H P P ???
Examples: (a) JXXXX XX AJ10X Q10 Note: None of these hands meet
(b) J10 XXX KXXXXX A10 the standard requirements for a
(c) X XX Q10XX AQXXXX direct (2D) overcall, but all are
appropriate balancing overcalls
Frequently, one, will be forced to balance at the one‑level even with a 4‑card suit.
1D P P ???
Examples: (a) KJXX QX XXX QXXX (1S)
(b) X AXXX JXXX AXXX (1H)
When one balances with an overcall, partner should not get overly enthusiastic. Balancing overcalls are usually the weakest of the actions one may exercise in the balancing chair, and, as noted above, can even be done with a weak hand, a poor suit quality, and even with a 4‑card suit. Even if the previously-passed partner holds a good hand, game is highly unlikely unless in addition to his/her good hand, he/she holds a fit for the balancing partner's suit.
E. BALANCING JUMP OVERCALLS: ‑ Weak jump overcalls designed to consume enemy
bidding space are no longer needed, since one could simply pass to accomplish this same objective. Thus, a balancing jump-overcall should show usually a one‑suited hand, with at least a 6‑card suit, and the approximate strength of a sound opening bid.
1H P P ??? AKJXXX XX AXX KX (2S)
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F. BALANCTNG NO TRUMPS: ‑ The requirements for a balancing no trump bid differ from a
direct no trump overcall as do all other balancing bids. A balancing no trump bid should have the following conditions:
1. 8‑10 HCP's (or more) (Subject to a Flexible Partnership Understanding)
2. A balanced or semi‑balanced distribution (Two doubletons allowed)
3. Usually a stopper in the enemy's bid suit, but not guaranteed
4. denial of distributional requirements for a good take‑out double
1D P P ??? (a) KX QIOX Q10M QXXX (1NT)
(b) AX AQX XXXX KXXX (1NT)
G. BALANCING CUE‑BIDS: ‑ Shows a highly distributional hand, usually 2‑suited. The
strength shown is somewhat ambiguous and may vary. The cue‑bidder may hold a strong offensive hand unsuitable for a take‑out double; or a weak distributional hand that has little or no defensive values and thus cannot stand to have partner pass a take‑out double should partner have “trap‑passed”. Examples: 1C P P ???
(a) KQJXXX AQJXX ‑ KX ("2C") (b) QXXXX JXXXXX X X ("2C")
H. PASSING IN THE BALANCING CHAIR: ‑ There are only two (2) reasons one should pass in the balancing chair. They include:
1. You have both length and strength in the enemy suit, making it most unlikely that partner has trap-passed. Thus, permitting your opponents to play the contract that has been passed around to you might well result in your side's optimum score on that deal.
2. You have such a weak hand, that any bid you might make is likely to produce an unmakeable contact, even in the unlikely possibility of finding partner with a reasonable strength. The hand probably belongs to the enemy anyhow, and, if partner had trap‑passed, the opponents are likely to have a much better contract than the one they are forced to play should you have passed.
Examples: 1H P P ??? (a) XX AJIOXX QJX JXX (Pass) (#l‑above)
(b) QXX JXX XXXX QXX (Pass) (#2‑above)
I. SUMMATION: ‑ Infrequently, and usually against inexperienced or poor bidders, balancing
will infrequently allow your opponents to bid and make game er achieve a better part‑score either of which they might never have reached if balancing had not occurred. On still other infrequent occasions one may get doubled and go for a considerable set because partner does not hold the necessary values that the auction suggests, or your side does not have a good fit despite your opponent's fit. ACCEPT THESE LOSSES. They will be rare and they will be more than compensated by the points earned by balancing. The use of balancing bids should, in general, be a source of considerable profit and gratification.