Bridge Tips


                                                                                                                                    By:  Dr. Harold Schachter


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (Updated: 2/17/18)


Over the past several years I have been compiling information and guidelines which, cumulatively, have assisted me in improving my understanding, expertise and enjoyment, both offensively and defensively, in the playing of the game of bridge.   These tips have been gathered from my bridge experiences during competitive play, from books that I have read, and from published articles that I have accumulated.    Each week, when I am available to do so, I have added a new “tip” from these bidding and playing “pearls,” and hope that you, too, will find them interesting, informative, and equally helpful in your endeavor to improve your skills and enjoyment in the playing of this pastime that we all love and find so challenging.


I encourage you to drop me an E-mail if you have any questions, comments, additions or corrections to the tips enclosed herein, and look forward to you contacting me with any constructive comments or suggestions.   My E-mail address is



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Bridge Tip # 465



   As a general principle, a new suit bid by a Responder to an Opening Bidder is forcing, usually for one round and, at other times, to a Game-level contract, (“4th-suit Forcing,” as an example), dictated by Partnership agreement.   There are, however, several exceptions to this principle of a new suit by a Responder being forcing, and they are as follows:




     1. A new suit bid by a Responder, following an intervening overcall of 1-NT, subsequent to Partner’s opening bid of one-of-a-suit.


              North               East               South      If South, here, had “doubled,” it would have been a Penalty Double, and would have shown a hand with at least 9 HCP’s. 

                1D                  1-NT                2S           South’s bid, here, of a new suit, shows a long suit, but a hand with limited HCP values.  It is “to play,” and is non-forcing.



     2.  A re-bid of 2H following a first response of 1S, subsequent to Partner’s opening bid of either Minor suit and a subsequent re-bid, by Opener, of 1-NT.


                  North               East               South              West     South’s re-bid, here, shows either a 5-5 or 5-4 distribution in the Majors, but weak in HCP’s.

                  1C/1D              Pass                  1S                  Pass        It is non-forcing and asks Opener to either “accept” or “correct” to 2S.  

                   1-NT               Pass                  2H                                 Had South desired to force the bidding, he/she would have had to have re-bid 3H, instead.





     3.  A new suit bid by a Responder, having previously first responded with 1-NT, subsequent to Opener having opened the bidding a having re-bid the same or a second suit at the 2-level.


                        North               East               South              West     South’s bid, here, of 2H, shows 6-10 HCP’s, a 6-card or longer suit, lack of support for either of Opener’s bid suits, and is “to play!”  

                     1S                   Pass               1-NT               Pass          It is an example of a so-called: “new suit out of the blue!”

                     2D                  Pass                 2H    




4.    A bid of a new suit by a Responder, at the 2-level, following an opening bid of one-of-a-suit by Opener and a subsequent intervening overcall of a “Take-Out Double,” by the would-be    

          Responder’s right-hand Opponent (RHO).


                         North               East               South              West     South’s bid, here, of 2D, shows 6-9 HCP’s, a lack of support for Opener’s bid suit, the inability to bid an un-bid Major suit at the 1-level,

                      1H                Double               2D                                 and is “to play,” and non-forcing.   With 10 or more HCP’s, South, here, would have “re-doubled!”       







Bridge Tip # 464



   At times, although, thankfully, infrequently, one must choose to make a bid from what are several uncomfortable and slightly erroneous, alternative options!   Two such circumstances come to mind:


   (1)   You, as Opener, hold the following:  x   AJxx   AKJxx   xxx

You open 1D, your right-hand Opponent (RHO) “Passes,” and Partner responds 1S.  What is your alternative re-bid?

a.     You must notPass,” as Responder could have opening count and a game-level contract would likely be missed, and, as you are keenly aware, “a new suit by Responder is, almost always, forcing for 1-round.”

b.    You would like to show your 4-card Heart suit, but having opened with 1D, a re-bid, here, of 2H would be a “Reverse,” and would show 17 (+) HCP’s.   The worst lie in bridge!  Partner with as few as 9 (+) HCP’s would likely proceed to a game-level contract with your Partnership sorely lacking in the HCP’s needed to fulfill the stated final contract.

c.     You toy with the option to re-bid 1-NT, but with this unbalanced distribution, you are dissuaded from choosing that alternative.

d.    You know one rarely re-bids an unsupported 5-card suit (doing so usually guarantees 6-cards or more), but in light of all of the other unfavorable options shown above, you reluctantly re-bid 2D.  The best of the unlikely alternatives!




  (2)   You, as Opener, hold the following:   AJx   xx   Qxx   AQxxx   

You correctly open 1C, your RHO, once again, “Passes,” after which Partner responds 1S.  What is your alternative re-bid?

   a.   You must notPass.”  A new suit bid by a Responder to Partner’s opening bid of one-of-a-suit is forcing for 1-round.

   b.   You choose not to re-bid your 5-card Club suit, nor to re-bid 1-NT, owing to your very weak Diamond and Hearts suit holdings.

   c.   Finally, you would like to have 4-Spades in support of what might be Responder’s 4-card 1S response, but you choose the re-bid of 2S as your favored option.    Once again, the best option from amongst several, seemingly-uncomfortable choices.   “Bridge can be frustrating, at times, can’t it?”




Bridge Tip # 463



     It is standard practice that one should usually cover an honor with an honor, unless there as a sequence of two honors, then the practice is to cover the second honor, not the first.  If, however, you, as Defender, hold just two cards in the suit played, then you must cover the 1st honor, not wait for the 2nd to be played.  In the following examples, the Queen is played from the Dummy.  What card should be played by East?



         Qxx                   QJx                      QJx

             Kxx                   Kxx                      Kx

    (Play the King)    (Play small on the Queen)    (Play the King)

                           (Cover the Jack)    





Bridge Tip # 462



     When the Opponents open the bidding, your Partnership is at a considerable disadvantage in that, as a potential Overcaller, it is not as easy to describe your hand compared to if you had been able to initiate the bidding as an Opening Bidder.  In addition, waiting to enter the auction holds a further negative consequence in that the longer one waits to begin to describe one’s holdings the harder it becomes to do so.  Solution: Be aggressive, but prudent, in upgrading or downgrading your holdings as follows, and enter the auction aggressively, especially if non-vulnerable.


     Upgrade that which you hold in cases where,

                              (1) You hold Aces and/or good intermediaries (9’s and 10’s),

                              (2) You hold suits of excellent quality (4 or more in length with 3 or more

                                           Honors, and

                              (3) You hold suits with excessive length (5 or more cards)


     Downgrade that which you hold in cases where,

                              (1) You have a 4-3-3-3 distribution,

                              (2) Your hand holds multiple “Quacks,” (Queens and Jacks)

                          (3) You hold questionable doubletons (QJ or Qx) and/or singleton

                                     Honors (K, Q, or J)




Bridge Tip # 461



     When your right-hand Opponent (RHO) opens 1C, whether or not it is “short,” and assuming it does not represent an artificial and strong “Precision 1C,” try to be aggressive in potentially acting in the 2nd seat.  After all, there will never be a greater bidding space for you to overcall than over a starting bid, by an Opponent, of 1C!


      a. Normally, in order to make a “Take-Out Double,” in addition to holding opening HCP count or its equivalent, one must hold the right shape; i.e. fewer than 3-cards in Opener’s bid suit.   In this case, however, over the 1C opening bid, consider making the “Take-Out Double” as long as you hold at least 4-3 in the Majors, not-withstanding a holding of only two Diamonds, with hands such as:   

                      KQxx Axxx Kx xxx   (or)   AQx xxxx AK xxxx


     b. It will usually be successful in overcalling 1-NT, absent a Club “stopper.”  Statistically, Opener rarely holds more than 4-Clubs.   Overcall 1-NT with hands such as:


Axxx AQ AQxx Jxx   (or)   KQx AQ AJxx xxxx


     c. Consider being aggressive and spirited with hands such as:


QJTxxx xx Qxxx x (Overcall 2S)

Qxxxx QJxxxx xx x (Overcall a “Michaels” “2C”)

xxx AQJxx xxxx x (Overcall 1H)





Bridge Tip # 460


  A Dozen Defensive Bridge Tips




     1.  When leading against a Suit contract and holding an AKQ(xx) combination in an outside suit, having discussed this with Partner, previously, lead the Queen, then the King and then the Ace.   When holding just the AK(xxx) combination, lead the Ace and then the King.  In this manner, having led the Ace first, Partner will know that you do not have the King-Queen combination.


      2.   When leading Partner's suit against either a Suit or a No-Trump contract, and holding three or more small cards always lead high if you have supported the suit, low if you haven't.


      3.   Even though your Partnership’s custom is to lead the Ace from an AK combination, the King is still led at trick one when:


(a) The suit has been supported by either Player.

(b) Partner has bid the suit and you have not supported it.

(c) The contract is at the 5-level or higher.     

(d) You have an AK doubleton.


      4.  When Dummy has shown Trump support plus a presumed long second suit, a Trump lead is desirable if you have Dummy’s long second suit, to some extent, covered.  Absent the ability to control Dummy’s second suit, the lead of a Trump is contra-indicated.   Better to make an attacking lead in one of the two remaining suits. 


      5.  Notwithstanding your Partnership’s agreement to lead the Ace from any suit in which he/she holds three of more cards,  be advised that the lead of the King is still lead of choice at trick one if:

(1) the suit has been supported by both you and Partner, (2) the contract is at the 5-level or higher,

(3) Partner had bid the suit and you have not supported it, thus making it advantageous to attack his suit, or lastly, (4) you hold an AK doubleton.


      6.  When there is any artificial bid (cue-bids included), by your right-hand Opponent (RHO), as is likely the case when the Opponents are employing either Stayman, Jacoby Transfers, Blackwood or Gerber, among others, and you desire the lead from Partner to be in that suit, use a “Lead-Directing” Double.   When making a “Lead-Directing” Double at a low level, however, especially at the 2-level you need five or six cards in the suit headed by at least two or three honors in the suit.  To “double” an artificial bid made at the 4-level or higher, all that required is strength in the suit, not length.   (KQx), even (QJx) if the bid to your right implies the Ace, will suffice.


      7.  When Partner has bid a suit and then “doubles” a Small Slam bid by the Opponents, and you are on lead, do not lead Partner’s bid suit.  Absent Partner’s “double” you usually would have, anyway.  Partner usually has a void, or an outside AK, in order to, justifiably, having made the “double.”   Attempt from a combination of that which you hold and the bidding just completed as to which suit being led represents the “killing lead.”


      8.  When following suit to a trick led by Partner, obviously you, as 3rd hand, would play high, under most circumstances, so as to attempt to take the trick.   If the card played from Dummy, however, is higher than any you hold, and you, therefore, are not able to attempt to capture the trick, you must give count to Partner as to the number of cards you hold in the suit - high from any even number, and low from an odd number.   This will help Partner determine the likely number of cards held by the Declarer so as to assist him/her in the play of that suit going forward.


      9.  Do not lead a singleton vs. a voluntarily bid Small Slam if you have an Ace. Partner can't have the Ace and you will probably be helping Declarer by statistically giving him/her a free finesse at trick one.  Any missing honors are unlikely to be in Partner’s hand.   On the other hand, a singleton lead against a Small Slam when you don't have an Ace has a much better chance of succeeding. Hopefully, Partner might, on occasion, hold the Ace in the suit in which you have the singleton or, at the very least a Trump trick which will allow Partner to possibly give you a subsequent ruff.


    10.  Assuming that it is your Partnership’s understand that you lead of the Ace at trick #1 from any AKx(x) combination, this holds true only for trick #1.   This is a trick-one convention, only.   At any later trick, when on lead from any AKx(x) combination, always lead the King first.  After trick-one a Defender is likely to want to lead an Ace without the King and does not want Partner to think that he/she has the King.


    11.  If Partner doesn't lead the suit that you have overcalled, assume Partner to have one of the following circumstances:   (1) he/she is void in your suit, (2) he/she is leading a singleton, hoping it to be a more productive lead, (3) he/she is leading the top of a sequence which he/she believes to be, once again, a better choice, (4) he/she holds the Ace of our suit and fears that if you are missing the King that the lead of the Ace will give the Declarer a trick to which he/she would, otherwise, not be entitled.  Lastly, your worst fear should be that Partner was inattentive to the bidding and has not remembered that you bid the suit.


    12.  When leading an un-bid suit against a No-Trump contract and holding 4-cards not headed by an honor, it is too misleading to lead low which customarily shows strength,   If you highest card is an 8 or lower, lead high, but if highest card is a nine, ten, or Jack, lead your second highest card.  If holding a Queen or King in that as your highest card in that suit, always lead the lowest card. (Always lead low from any suit with three or more cards headed by a Queen or a King.)







Bridge Tip # 459



     Confusion often exists as to whether No-Trump overcalls are natural and when they are conventionally, artificial (“Unusual”), especially when made by a “previously-passed” Player.


     Any Direct (2nd) Seat overcall of “1-NT” or “2-NT” by a “previously-passed” hand is “Unusual,” and shows the two, lower-ranking, as-yet, un-bid suits (usually 5-5 or better).

Example 1 & 2:   South, in both instances, here, shows 5-5 or better in Clubs and Hearts, but holds stronger values in Example 2. 


















































     Any Non-Direct (4th) Balancing Seat overcall of “1-NT” by a “previously-passed” hand is not Unusual,” rather it is a “Balancing NT,” (an evenly-balanced, 10-14 HCP overcall).























     Any Non-Direct (4th) Balancing Seat overcall of “2-NT” by a “previously-passed” hand is “Unusual,” and shows the two, lower-ranking, as-yet, un-bid suits (usually 5-5 or better).


























Bridge Tip # 458



       When playing “Roman Key-Card Blackwood,” the suit referenced in the answers by Responder is in the agreed-upon suit, or, in the absence of one, it is the last suit mentioned by the Partnership, before the “4-NT” call. 






Bridge Tip # 457



     A “2-NT” response, following Opener’s weak opening 2-bid, notwithstanding an interference call by an Opponent, is still an “asking,” forcing response, subject to Partnership agreement as to which of the three conventions the Partnership uses: “Feature,” “Ogust,” or “Klinger Ogust.”  It cannot be “passed.”  It is not natural - to play!   It is too dear to allow the Opponent’s to get in the way of a possible Game-level contact, ostensibly being sought by Responder.


                              North               East               South              West

                                2H                    2S               “2-NT”              Pass


            Opener must respond with the appropriate answer, using one

         of the available, agreed upon, conventional responses.         





Bridge Tip # 456



     A “Texas Transfer” is still on after a “2D” response by an Opener, to a Stayman “2C” call by Responder.   It shows game values, a 6-4 shape, and is called an “Extended Texas Transfer.”   Responder has first attempted to find the preferred 4-4 Major suit fit, but absent having found the sought-after 4-4 fit, Responder is using the “Texas Transfer” convention in order to maintain the opening bidder as Declarer, in order to keep the stronger holding concealed.


                                    North                East               South              West

                               1-NT                Pass               2C               Pass

                               “2D”                Pass          “4D”/”4H”          Pass          



                                 AXXX         AQXXXX

                                 AQXXXX       AXXX

                                 KX    (or)   KX

                                 X            X






Bridge Tip # 455



     A “4-NT” bid by a Responder, following both a “Jacoby” and a “Texas” Transfer bid, differs, as follows:  

     After a Jacoby Transfer it is Quantitative seeking a Slam in the Major suit referenced if Opener holds a maximum of his/her 1-NT opening.

     After a Texas Transfer, it represents a Blackwood, Ace-Asking, inquiry.


                                                    North               East               South              West

  a. After a Jacoby Transfer:      1-NT                Pass               “2D”               Pass            

                                                      2H                   Pass             “4-NT” (“Quantitative”)


                                                     North               East               South              West

  b. After a Texas Transfer:        1-NT                Pass               “4D”               Pass            

                                                       4H                  Pass             “4-NT” (“Blackwood”)






Bridge Tip # 454



A “double,” by an Opponent of any artificial bid is a “Lead-Directing Double.”

Having just opened the bidding with a 1-NT call, faced with the need to respond to Partners’ artificial Jacoby Transfer bid and a “Lead Directing Double” by Opener’s right-hand Opponent (RHO), Opener has the opportunity of making several different responses giving added information to Opener’s responding Partner who is awaiting the acceptance of the transfer.   The multiple possible responses and their significance are listed as follows:


                              North               East               South              West

                               1-NT                Pass               “2H”            Double



a.     “Pass” = 2-card support

b.    “Re-Double” = 3-card support with a maximum 17 HCP’s

c.     “2S” (accepting the transfer) = 3- or 4-card support with a minimum

d.    “3S” (accepting the transfer) = 4-card support with a maximum






Bridge Tip # 453



     A “Double,” by Opener, following a balancing bid by an Opponent, is not a Penalty Double, it is a Take-Out, (a “Re-opening Double”).


                              North               East               South              West

                          1-NT                Pass               Pass                  2D           












Bridge Tip # 452



     When playing a “2/1-Game-Forcing,” bidding system, a jump-re-bid, by Opener, following a bidding sequence such as 1S – 2D – 3H, is not a “jump-shift.”   Rather it is a “Mini=Splinter” bid in support of Responder’s bid suit.   Jump-Shifts by an Opening Bidder do not exist after a “2/1” bid of a new suit by Opener’s responding Partner.


                                    Opener                            Responder

                                         AQXXX               XX

                  X                  AXXX

                  KQXX               AXXXX

                  AQ                 KX                


                   1S                   2D

                  “3H”                “4-NT”               

                  5C” (3-controls)





Bridge Tip # 451


     Following a Partnership’s 1D2C bidding sequence, shown here, or any other 2/1 initial Partnership bidding sequence, Opener must re-bid any 4-card Major suit held (“Up-the-Ladder”) if he/she holds one.   Responder could hold a 4-card, as-yet, un-bid, same Major suit, such as in the following hand.


                                           Opener                      Responder


                                      AJXX              KXXX

                       KXX               AX

                       AJXXX             XX

                       X                 AQXXX


                       1D                 2C

                       2S                 4S



     Note:   (1) Responder’s first response of 2C was forcing, as “any new suit bid by a Responder is almost always forcing for one-round.


                (2) Responder, by bidding Clubs first with intent to re-bid Spades on his/her first re-bid, meant to evidence that his/her Club suit was longer in length than his/her Spade suit.  At the same time, Responder, here, if he/she had re-bid 2S, would have shown a “Reverse,” would have shown opening values, and would have placed the Partnership in a game-forcing bidding scenario, as “a ‘Reverse,’ by a Responder is always forcing to game!” This is exactly what Responder, here, had intended to show.


                (3) Because of Responder’s 2-level first response, Opener would be forced to re-bid 2S, and that re-bid would not have been a “Reverse,” and would not necessarily have shown extra values. Even if the Partnership had been utilizing a “2/1-Game-Forcing” bidding system, Opener’s re-bid of 2S would not have been a “Reverse,” as a “Reverse,” by an Opener does not exist following a 2-level, new suit, first response by Opener’s responding Partner.





Bridge Tip # 450


    You, holding a balanced hand, 19 HCP’s and 4-Spades, open 1C or 1D.  Partner responds 1D or 1H.   The question arises whether it is appropriate to make a jump shift to 2S, else to     re-bid 2-NT. 


     Conventional wisdom is that it is better to show the balanced hand by bidding 2-NT.   If Partner does hold 4-Spades, he/she will explore for a 4-4 Spade fit by “checking-back,” with a “3C” Stayman call.   With this understanding the Partnership allows the Opener to show his/her balanced 18-19 HCP hand, while never missing the 8-card Spade “Golden-Fit,” should it be present.


     Alternatively, if Opener had made the jump-shift to 2S, it would have shown the same 19 HCP’s, but implied an unbalanced 2-suiter, as opposed to the balanced hand which would have been referenced with the above-referenced, 2-NT re-bid. 





Bridge Tip # 449



     When using the “Gerber Convention” for Ace-asking when confirming the feasibility of a perceived Slam contract, most Partnerships, so as to avoid confusion, stipulate that a “4C” bid invokes “Gerber” following either a beginning or an ending No-Trump bid.   All other times, under this agreement, a bid of 4C represents a natural Club call.


     To avoid further confusion, Partnerships need discuss how to collate the use of the “Gerber” convention with “Jacoby Transfers.”   The following defines how this is done!


                              North               East               South              West

                               1-NT                Pass                “2H”               Pass

                                 2S                  Pass                 4C


     Here, the “4C” bid invokes is Ace-asking with Spades being designated as the presumed trump denomination.  This presumption is particularly important if the Partnership is utilizing “Roman-Key-Card Gerber,” with specific interest in the King of Spades as the 5th Ace.  Absent the use by the Partnership of “Roman-Key-Card Gerber,” the “4C” bid, here, would invoke standard “Gerber.”





Bridge Tip # 448


     When the opening lead has been made by the wrong Opponent, and its having been made face-up, eliminating the ability for the error to be rectified, Declarer has five options.  The Director should be called and these five options will be presented from which a choice must be made.  The following is a list of the pros and cons for each of the five options from which Declarer must choose:



1.    Acceptance of the lead, as made, notwithstanding it having been made from the opposite Defender.  If accepted, Declarer will be playing 2nd to the trick, with the Dummy being tabled, before Declarer must make the choice of which card to play.  The play then continues, without penalty.

                              Pros for acceptance of this option:

a.     Declarer seeing the Dummy before he/she has to commit a card to play, discovers an advantage to accept the card/suit led

                   Cons for acceptance of this option:

a.     Declarer finds that the card/suit led is disadvantages to his/her desired Declarer play

b.    Declarer sees a potential advantage to any of the other options available





2.    Acceptance of the lead, as made, as in option #1, with the following alteration.   The designated Declarer, tables his/her hand.  Without consultation from Partner, he/she becomes the Dummy, with Partner, the supposed Dummy, becoming the Declarer, with the play then continuing, without penalty.

                               Pros for acceptance of this option:

a.     Declarer likes the cad/suit led, and feels it holds an advantage for his Partner’s subsequent Declarer play

b.    You feel that Partner holds the better Declarer play capability

                   Cons for acceptance of this option:

a.     Declarer finds that the card/suit led is disadvantages to his/her sides eventual Declarer play

b.    You feel that Partner holds lesser Declarer play capability




3.    Rejection of the lead.  Would-be-Declarer’s RHO returns the card to his/her hand, with the would-be-Declarer’s LHO, the originally correct Opponent to have the responsibility to lead, forbidden to lead any card of the suit erroneously led, now forced to lead any other suit of his/her choice, as long as he/she maintains the lead. (For example, If LHO were to have first played an Ace of any side suit, he/she cannot then switch to the suit that Partner has led out of turn.)  

                               Pros for acceptance of this option:

a.     Declarer dislikes the card/suit erroneously chosen.

                   Cons for acceptance of this option:

a.   No further advantage other than the initial rejection of the suit/car chosen


4.    Rejection of the lead as in option #3, except that following RHO picking up his/her card, you require LHO to lead that suit, with RHO allowed to play any card of that suit of his/her choice.  Again, there is no further penalty.

                               Pros for acceptance of this option:

a.     You welcome the suit erroneously led, and you desire the lead coming into your hand – perhaps into a trance (AQ).

b.    You fear that another choice of suit or card led might be hamful

                   Cons for acceptance of this option:

a.      No further advantage other than the initial acceptance of the suit/card 




5.    You opt to allow LHO to lead nay card/suit of his/her choice, including that of the suit chosen.  In this instance, the card erroneously played by Declarer’s RHO remains face-up as a major penalty card

                              Pros for acceptance of this option:

a.     You see a potential big advantage later in the play of the hand as a result of the presence of the penalty card

                   Cons for acceptance of this option:

a.      You are allowing LHO to lead any suit/card of his/her choice





Bridge Tip # 447



    The question often arises as to how many pieces are shown when Responder to an opening of one-of-a-suit by Partner, bids a Major suit.   When does it show at few as 4-pieces, and when does it guarantee at least five or more?  Partnerships must discuss and agree-to any, or all of the following:  



      Absent an Overcall by the would-be Responder’s right-hand Opponent (RHO), the answer is that, almost always, such a response shows as few as 4-pieces, although it could, of course, be more than four: 

                                 1C/1D – P – 1H/1S = Four or more

               1H   – P -  1S   = Four or more (unless the Partnership is utilizing the “Flannery,” Convention, in which case a response of 1S would guarantee Five or more)



     Some Partnerships, in bidding sequences absent an Overcall by the would-be Responder’s RHO, and in an effort to distinguish whether a response of a Major suit is 5 (+) cards or 4-cards, employ the “Kennedy Method,” which is not a convention, but rather a style of bidding, as follows:


                                                    1C – P – 1H/1S = Five or more, allowing Opener to disclose the presence of 3-card support for Responder’s 5–card Major

                      1C – P - “1D” = An “alertable,” artificial call which may or may not signify a 4-card or longer Diamond suit holding, but which denies a 5-card or longer Major suit. Any subsequent “Up-the-Ladder” bidding sequence by the Partnership will then uncover any potential 8-card Major suit “Golden Fit,” if it is present.  



      Other than weak or strong jump-responses, a response of a Major at the 2-level occurs in only one instance:     1S – P – 2H = Five or more




      In cases where Responder’s RHO makes an intervening Take-Out Double, the answers are the same as above with regard to the length of Responder’s Major suit holding:


                                                 1C/1D – Double – 1H/1S = Four or More




     In cases where there is an intervening overcall, however, the answers are somewhat varied dictated by the use, or absence thereof, of a Negative Double:


      1C – 1D – 1H/1S = Four or More (A “Double” = 4+ Hearts and 4+ Spades)

     1C – 1H   1S   = Five or more (A “Double” = exactly Four)

     1C – 1S   2H   = Five or more

     1D – 1H -  1S   = Five or more (A “Double” = exactly Four)

     1D – 1S -  2H   = Five or more

     1H – 2C/2D – 2S = Five or more

     1S - 2C/2D – 2H = Five or more

1-  NT – 2C/2D/2H – 2H/2S = Five or more



   In summary when an intervening Overcall takes place, and Responder bids a Major suit, if the Overcall is anything other than 1D, Responder’s bid of a Major suit guarantees Five or more pieces.  If the overcall is 1D, however, then Responder is allowed to bid 1H or 1S with as few as Four pieces. 





Bridge Tip # 446



     One of the less frequently used overcalls, when using the “DONTConvention when interfering subsequent to an Opponent’s strong 1-NT call, is an overcall of “2-NT.”    Conventional wisdom is that such overcalls can show one of two possible hands, both acceptable, but subject to Partnership understanding as to which one is preferred by the team.  The two possibilities are as follows:    

1-NT – “2-NT” (?)


1.     5-5 or better in the Minor suits but pre-emptive in nature wishing to raise the competitive level higher than that accomplished by a “2C” overcall.


2.     6-5 or better in a Major/Minor, 2-Suiter hand.   Here Partner is asked to select the lower-ranking of the 2-longest suits held by the Overcaller’s Partner.  The Overcaller then either “accepts” Responder’s chosen suit, else “corrects” to the other, higher-ranking of the 2-suits held.





Bridge Tip # 445


     A “Jump-shift” by an opening bidder shows 19 (+) HCP’s, and opposite any initial response from Opener’s responding Partner, which shows 6 (+) HCP’s, the jump-shift is forcing to game.   Example:  (1X, 1Y, 3Z)


     A “Reverseby an opening bidder shows 17 (+) HCP’s, and is forcing for one-round, not necessarily to game.   Example:  (1X, 1Y, 2Z) – where Z is a higher-ranking suit the X


     Because a “Reverse” by an opening bidder is forcing (and up to 20 HCP’s), there is never a need for Opener to both “jumpandreverse.”  Why preempt your own strong auction? So, the following auctions do not make any sense!


a. 1♠-1♠-3♠ (2♠ would be a big bid, so no need for 3♠)
b. 1♠-1♠-3♠ or 3♠ (again, no need to jump when a reverse would suffice)
c. 1♠-1♠-3♠ (2♠ is forcing, so no need for 3♠)


     Since there is never any justifiable reason for a “jump-reverse” to exist, bids such as those shown in a, b, and c, above, if used, show an entirely different condition, other than those initially evidenced by either a “Jump-Shift, or a “Reverse,” as described above.    Such sequences shown in a, b, and c, are “mini-splinter” bids which show 4-card support, about 16-18 HCP’s, and shortness in the suit jumped in; i.e., not quite enough for a 4-level “splinterraise.   So, 1D-1S-3H would show something like:  ♠ KQ106  
♥ 2  
♦ AQ654  
♣ A52.





Bridge Tip # 444


     When responding to Responder’s “New-(2nd)-Minor” re-bid when the Partnership is playing “New-Minor-Forcing,” Opener’s second response (????) differs when Responder’s Major suit is Hearts (a), as opposed to when Responder’s Major suit is Spades (b).


a.    (One-of-either-Minor)     1H

                 1-NT              (2nd Minor)


b.     (One-of-either-Minor)     1S 

                 1-NT              (2nd Minor)



     Opener’s re-bid of 1-NT, in the bidding sequence shown in example (a) already guarantees the absence of Opener’s hand containing 4-Spades.due to his/her failure to re-bid an obligatory 1S, “Up-the-Ladder.” Therefore, in the bidding sequence (a), Opener can immediately address whether or not he/she has 3-pieces of Responder’s Heart suit using any one of the “New-Minor-Forcing” conventional bids (shown below) since a hypothetical Spade fit is, therefore, already proven non-existent.


                       (a) (One-of-either-Minor)            1H

                                         1-NT                     (2nd Minor)

                          (2H, 3H, 2-NT or 3-NT)


    2H” saying, “I hold 3-Hearts and a minimum 12-13 HCP’s”

    3H” saying, “I hold 3-Hearts and a maximum 14 HCP’s”

   2-NT” saying, “I hold only 2-Hearts and 12-13 HCP’s” or

   3-NT” saying, “I hold only 2-Hearts and 14 HCP’s”


     In the bidding sequence shown in example (b), however, Responder, if holding five Spades and four or five Hearts would necessarily mention Spades first.  Since Opener knows that playing the hand in a potential 4-4 or 5-4 Heart fit is preferable to playing in a 5-3 Spade fit, Opener’s first response would indicate whether he/she does, or does not, hold 4-Hearts.


                      (b) (One-of-either-Minor)            1S

                                         1-NT –                  (2nd Minor)

                      (2H, 2S, 3S, 2-NT, or 3-NT)


2H” saying, “I do hold 4-Hearts in case you, too, also hold 4-Hearts, if that information is not relevant to your inquiry, please bid 2S, and I will then address my Spade and HCP holding.”


         2S” saying, “I do not hold 4-Hearts, but I do hold 3-Spades and a minimum 12-13 HCP’s”

         3S” saying, “I do not hold 4-Hearts, but I do hold 3-Spades and a maximum 14 HCP’s.”

      2-NT” saying, “I do not hold 4-Hearts, and I hold only 2 Spades, and a minimum 12-13 HCP’s.”

      3-NT” saying, “I do not hold 4-Hearts, and I hold only 2 Spades, and a maximum 14 HCP’s.”


   Thus, in all of these bidding sequences, shown above, Responder becomes the “Captain,” of any bidding advancement, “passing” Opener’s third response, proceeding to the appropriate game, or exploring for Slam with the knowledge gleaned from the bidding sequence as to whether a Major suit, Heart or Spade, fit is present or absent; and whether Opener holds a minimum of 12-13 HCP’s, or a maximum of 14 HCP.





Bridge Tip # 443



     A (4-3-3-3) distribution is the worst distribution in bridge.  Hands distributed in this fashion generate the least number of tricks, especially when played in a suit contract.  This results from a lack of “ruffing” capability which generally reduces the offensive potential of these hands, on average, of almost one full trick. 


     Because of this fact, hands holding this distribution have a direct impact on changing what would otherwise be standard bidding practice.  Two such examples of this are as follows:


    1. Responder to a Partner’s opening bid of 1-NT or 2-NT, acting as the “Captain” of any advancement to the auction, should never initiate a Stayman2C” call, looking for a possible 8-card Major suit fit.  Such hands play better in 3-NT rather than in 4H or 4S, even if an 8-card “Golden Fit” were to be present in Hearts or in Spades.


      North      South        South Holds:     

      1-NT       ????         A953      (Here, South should respond 3-NT

                              Q86    directly, without even looking for

                              K75   a possible 8-card Spade fit with                     

                              K82   Partner.)


    2.  Unless the Partnership is utilizing Larry Cohen’s new, three “super-acceptance” scenarios, a 1-NT or 2-NT opening bidder should never make a “super-acceptance” to a Major suit “Jacoby Transfer,” when Opener holds a (4-3-3-3) distribution, even when holding 4-pieces of Responder’s requested Major.   A “simple-acceptance,” at the 2-level, is preferable since Opener’s hand is likely to have a reduced offensive capability when played in a suit contract. 


                                           North Holds:      North    South               

    (Here, North should bid 2H          AK4            1-NT     “2D”          

 rather than taking a                   K862           ????

 super-acceptance” of 3H)              A84







Bridge Tip # 442



     The requirement for Opener to make a “super-acceptance” when Responder initiates a “Jacoby Transfer” into one of the Major suits has recently been the subject of discussion.   Two schools of thought exist, the first, the old established concept, and the second, the newer concept set forth by Larry Cohen.


1.    Opener should take a “super-acceptance” (“3H” or “3S”) whenever holding 4-pieces of the Major suit requested by Responder, but limited to only when also holding the maximum of 17 high-card points.



2.    Opener, conforming to the “LAW OF TOTAL TRICKS,” should always take a “super-acceptance” whenever holding 4-pieces of the Major suit requested by Responder, without limitation to Opener’s point count, but with some limitation with regards to the quality and distribution of his/her holdings, as discussed below.  ; i.e., doing so when holding   4-pieces and 15, 16 or 17 HCP’s.


                    The threesuper-acceptance” responses are as follows:


(1) 3H” or “3S” when holding 4-pieces and the minimum of 15 HCP’s, or a bad 16,

(2) 3-NT” when holding 16-17 HCP’s and a 4-3-3-3 distribution, and

(3) 3C” or “3D” when holding 16-17 HCP’s and a doubleton in either of the referenced Minor suits.



       A.  Opener should “super-accept” with Hearts more often than with Spades and, especially, when holding a doubleton Spade. (The Opponents, under these conditions, are most likely to be inclined to balance seeking a competitive contract in Spades at the 2-level.)


       B.  Opener should “super-accept” with five trumps. (With a 10-card fit, the chances are high that the Opponents can and will balance.  In the recent past, it has been advocated to open 1-NT with a balanced hand and 15 or a weak 16 HCP’s, even when holding a 5-card Major suit, so as to avoid an awkward re-bid, should one have to be made by the Opener.)


       C.  Opener should not super-accept with questionable working values.  (When holding an excessive number of “Quacks” [Queens and Jacks], Opener should not make a “super-acceptance.”)


       D.  Opener should not “super-accept” with too many high cards of uncertain worth.  (For example:   Qx, AKxx, KJx, QJxx.  This hand has 16 HCP, but facing a weak Responder, some or all of the outside high cards will not take tricks on offense.) 






Bridge Tip # 441



     Bidding is the language of the game of Bridge.   If spoken correctly and listened to carefully by one’s Partner, it attempts to tell one’s Partner both the strength (HCP’s) and the distribution of the cards (the number held in each suit) held by the bidder.   The message that Partner is trying to impart, but often misunderstood, is, sometimes, however, as follows: “Partner, please understand that my bid now is attempting to show you, in distribution and HCP’s, something different from that which this same bid would have implied, had I bid it earlier during the present auction!”   Here are some examples:


(Example 1)       North     East     South     West

                      1H        P       1-NT       P

                      2C        P        2H

     (Here, South, having originally shown 6-10 HCP’s, fewer than

4-Spades, and lack of support for Opener’s Heart suit is now showing either 3 or more Hearts and a very weak hand, one too weak to have originally supported Opener; i.e., one with a greater number of losing tricks (10 or more) than it would have shown had the Heart suit been supported earlier (Hand 1), else a hand which is forced to take the better choice of the two suits presented by Opener, one with only 2-Hearts, not three or more that it would have required, had it been supported earlier (Hand 2).


     Hand 1:  Q98 J76 Q52 Q952          Hand 2:  Q73 Q7 5 K987532





(Example 2)       North     East     South     West

                      1H        1S        P        P

                    Double      P        2H

     (Here, South, having originally shown the inability to compete, is now, prodded and encouraged by Partner’s re-opening Take-Out Double, showing three or more card support for Opener, but with 0-5 HCP’s, a hand too weak to have entered the auction earlier, one not unlike that shown in Hand 3.

                    Hand 3:  Q98 J76 87652 82





 (Example 3)       North     East     South     West

                                1D        P         P        

                      1H       1-NT      2C      


    (Here, South, having originally shown the inability to compete over his/her RHO’s opening call of 1D, is now showing a desire to enter the auction, absent 3-card or longer support for Partner’s Heart suit, but with a long Club suit and some competitive HCP’s, not unlike that shown in Hand 4.


                       Hand 4:  J954 Q7 7 AJ7652


Learn to listen to what is said in the bidding by one’s Partner, but, more importantly, what is, sometimes, implied by the fact that that same bid, just made, had not been bid earlier.






Bridge Tip # 440



     Standard bidding practice dictates that there is never a circumstance when one preempts over a previous preempt.   Partner of the one who has previously pre-empted can, however, further the level of the preempt bid made by his/her Partner (Example 1), but must never pre-empt in another suit (Example 2).



(Example 1)       North     East     South     West

                                    2D         P           4D (A furtherance of North’s preempt)

                                                               (Shows 4-Diamonds and very few HCP’s)

                   (An attempt to further the bidding mountain over which the Opponents must climb if they wish to compete in the auction)


(Example 2)       North     East     South     West

                                    2D         P           2H (A forcing, on-going, game-seeking strong bid)

                                                                        (Shows 15 or more HCP’s or its equivalent)

                                                                                          (Is not a preempt)



     Similarly, neither member of the opposition should ever preempt over a preempt bid made by the other Partnership (Example 3).



Example 3)       North     East     South     West

                                    2D       2H (A strong overcall with opening count or better)

                                                                        (Is not a preempt)




     Since, as just described, since no Player should preempt over a previous preempt by Partner or either Player from the opposition, the question, then, arises as to what would be the meaning should the bidding proceed as shown in Example 4?



 Example 4)       North     East     South     West

                                    2D        3H (?)


     This jump overcall is clearly not a pre-empt over North’s  preempt of 2D, and must, therefore, by elimination, be a very, very strong overcall, stronger than the hand needed to bid in Example 3, above, and not unlike the hand shown below.


           East Holds:       AK5

                       AQJT7  (Shows a 5-card or longer suit with

                       53        very near game-values)   







Bridge Tip # 439



     5-NT is almost never a contract at which one is usually desirous of playing.   A bid of “5-NT” when used in the Blackwood Convention is used to ask for Kings, and when used following a 1-NT opening by Partner is quantitative, based upon Partnership agreement, seeking 7-NT if Opener holds the top HCP count of his/her opening 1-NT call.  In years past, it used to be that a bid of 5-NT asked Partner to bid a grand slam with 2 of the top 3 honors (the so-called “Grand Slam Force,” but, today, with the advent of the use of “Roman Key Card Blackwood,” that method is no longer useful.


     Other than the three uses referenced above, a bid of “5-NT” is, today, artificial and says,  "Partner, I want to be in a small slam, but I am not sure which one is best—please help me choose."  In other words, outside of the three uses shown above, a “5-NT” call effectively says, “Partner, pick a slam!”   The Responder should take into account the previous bidding sequence just concluded, and try to make an informed decision, based upon his/her holdings.



You, Responder hold:      A2
Partner opens 1D and you, Responder, bid

                                                        Opener then re-bids 2-NT.   Now what?  You are not interested in a Grand Slam (with 18 opposite maybe 13), but probably are willing to play in a small slam, but which one?    Bid “5-NT.”  Bring Partner into the decision-making process!


You belong in:  6C if Opener holds:  QJ76  




Q954   QJ6

                          6D if Opener holds:  K96  
AQJ   Q9732   64

                      6-NT if Opener holds:  KQ5  
QJ6   A765   Q54






Bridge Tip # 438



     Two-suited overcalls, specifically “Michaels Cue-Bids,” and the “Unusual No-Trump” Conventions, are both widely used.   It is commonly practiced that they each show two specifically- referenced suits, 5-5 or better in length, and are either (a) very weak (showing     5-10 HCP’s), else (b) very strong (showing 16 {+} HCP’s).   What is less commonly understood, and, therefore, often misused, however, is that there use, with respect to at which seat at the table they are applicable, differs.


     Michaels Cue-Bids” are applicable in both the balancing (4th) and the direct (2nd) seats.  Thus, assuming the suits referenced in each of the following bidding scenarios are correct and the strengths are as shown above, both of the bidding sequences shown here are correct.


                       North                                                         North

                    1C, 1D, 1H, 1S                      (or)                       1C, 1D, 1H, 1S


           East                             West                               East                             West                                     

 2C,” “2D,” “2H,” “2S”       Pass                                                   2C,” “2D,” “2H,” “2S”


                           South                                                                   South



     The “Unusual No-Trump” Convention, however, is only applicable in the direct (2nd) seat.   In the balancing (4th) seat, however, a 2-NT overcall shows a balanced, very strong     (18-20 HCP) No-Trump distribution, with at least one stopper in the suit bid by the opening Player.   In this position, as a 4th seat overcall, it is not the “Unusual No-Trump.”



                      AQx                                     1H

                      AQxx                East                             West                                                                                              

                      KJx                  2-NT                             Pass

                               Kxx                                    South







Bridge Tip # 437



     Conventional wisdom today seems to support the concept of opening 1-NT even when possessing a 5-card Major, a 5-3-3-2 distribution, and especially when holding the minimum of 15 HCP’s.   This has become almost standard owing to the fact that if one were, alternatively, to open one-of-the-Major, with this specific holding, one’s re-bid, if called upon to make one, would necessarily be problem some.  For example: A re-bid of two of the Major would show 6-pieces, a re-bid 1-NT would be capped at 14 HCP’s, a re-bid of 2-NT would be an overbid since it promises 18-19 HCP’s, and no 4-card alternative suit exists, any one of which, if taken, would be in error of Opener’s actual distribution and/or point count.


     As a result, when opening 1-NT under these circumstances, absent the Partnership’s utilization of “Puppet Stayman,” which would, most times, uncover the as-yet, un-bid,

5-card Major holding, some Partnerships have adopted the following conventional responses which, seeks to uncover a possible 5-3 “Golden Fit” in an as-yet, un-explored-for Major.  These conventional responses, if utilized, are both alertable.


     a) Responder’s bid of “3H” to Partner’s opening call of 1-NT shows game values (10 + HCP’s) and a (3-1-4-5) or a (3-1 5-4) holding; i.e., 3-Spades, looking for 5 in Opener’s hand; and,


     b)  Responder’s bid of “3S” to Partner’s opening call of 1-NT shows game values (10 + HCP’s) and a (1-3-4-5) or a (1-3 5-4) holding; i.e., 3-Hearts, looking for 5 in Opener’s hand, to which;


Opener then either accepts the game-level 4H or 4S bid, if holding 5-pieces in the referenced Major, else corrects to 3-NT, thereby finding the likely, optimum, final contract.       





Bridge Tip # 436



Mel Colchamiro’s Rule of 23 - Double or Bid On


     Do not let the Opponents steal the bid when you know your combined point count.  If you know your side has at least 23 HCP and the opponents “have the bid,” you have only two options: “Double,” or bid on.  To “Pass” is not an option.



The Bidding:      West     North     East     You

                                                                               1S           P       1-NT

                                                                 2C          P            P          ?


                                         Your Hand:                                A4   Q83   7542   KJ73


     In the above-referenced example, you should “Double!”






Bridge Tip # 435



     A “Forcing No-Trump” is customarily used in conjunction with the “Two-over-One” bidding system.   After an opening bid of either 1H or 1S, Opener’s responding Partner’s first call of “1-NT” is forcing.  Absent a call from Opener’s right-hand Opponent, Opener must make a re-bid in order to further describe his/her holdings as to both strength and distribution.


     Absent a 6-card Major, enabling Opener to re-bid his/her Heart or Spade suit, and absent the presence of a second 4-card or longer suit which could then be bid, and absent holding 16-18 HCP’s thereby enabling Opener to make a natural re-bid of 2-NT, or a jump shift evidencing 19 (+) HCP’s, Opener, being forced to make a re-bid, must often make a call of either 2C or 2D which, hypothetically, could be a suit with as few as 3-pieces.


     With a weak hand and holding just 2-pieces of Opener’s Major, and 3- or 4-pieces of Opener’s re-bid Minor suit, Responder is left with an uncomfortable decision whether to “Pass” Opener’s Minor suit re-bid, or to support Opener’s Major with just two support pieces.


            North     South        South Holds:     

             1S       “1-NT”        Q4      

            2C/2D      ???          Q864                




     Conventional wisdom is that Responder, under these circumstances, should re-bid Opener’s Major rather than to “Pass” the Minor suit re-bid made by Opener.  Obviously if Opener’s Minor suit holding were to actually be a 5-piece suit, the final contract in the Minor suit would be preferred over the 7-card Major suit fit.  But, not knowing the length of Opener’s Minor suit holding, and assuming, therefore, that it is as few as 3-pieces, Responder should sign-off by re-bidding Opener’s Major suit.  A 5-2 fit final contract is better than a 4-3 fit, if the Partnership holds but 7-pieces in the suit finally chosen.   Crap happens!”  






Bridge Tip # 434



     A line of play that benefits Declare is usually detrimental to the Defense, and vice-versa.  For this reason, when in a suit contract and the Defenders see that Declarer is not drawing Trumps, they, the Defenders, when the lead is gained by them, should consider drawing Trumps themselves.  It should be obvious to the Defense under such circumstances that Declarer is likely to be setting up a cross-ruffing scenario, and the potential beneficial effect of doing so, by Declarer, will be diminished, or even thwarted entirely, if the Defenders can reduce the number of outstanding Trump cards held by Declarer’s side, particularly those held in the Dummy.   In such instances a good offense is often the winning play for the Defense.





Bridge Tip # 433



      Declarer, when playing in a suit contract, must not always rush to draw any outstanding trump cards.   There are many occasions when a Declarer should not rush to pull the outstanding trumps.  Among others they are:


  1. When the only outstanding Trump card, the 13th, is a winner for the Defense, usually the Queen, Declarer should leave it outstanding and go about any other Declarer play available, letting the Defender take his/her Trump trick at a later time of the Defender’s choice, and, thereby, not using two of Declarer’s trumps to take out the losing last Trump of the defense.  This is the so-called “Rule of 1.”


  1. When Declarer holds all of the outstanding high trumps and can cross-ruff the entire hand allowing the Defenders to under-ruff whenever obligated to do so, thereby using his/her Trump cards one at a time and increasing the number of Trump tricks available.  At such times, Declarer must take his side trick winners first, before cross-ruffing.


  1. When Declarer realizes that if he/she were to draw the outstanding Trumps, that there is little productive trick-taking capacity left in the hand.  In such instances Declarer should play his/her side suits enabling him/her to use his/her Trumps separately whenever, and as often as possible, by trumping when able to do so.


  1. When there is a 4-4 trump fit, there is a likely 4-1 or even a 5-0 trump break nearly 1/3 of the time.  If Declarer cannot withstand such a division, he/she should give serious thought to playing out the hand without, volitionally, touching the Trump suit.


      Quite often, Declare, having not rushed to draw Trumps, under the above-listed circumstances, among others, will often make contracts that would have otherwise failed, else increase the number of offensive tricks captured.   Bottom line, Declarer should not always rush to draw Trumps.





Bridge Tip # 432



     There is many a time where a Defender on lead suspects that Partner will win the first trick in a suit where Declarer is likely to hold only a singleton.  This can be known in cases where the bidding indicates the number of cards held in each suit, or when Declarer or Dummy has, during the bidding, made a “Splinter” bid, for example.    In such instances, Partner must lead to trick two, and his/her suit chosen, might be crucial to the Defenders securing the maximum number of defensive tricks.


     In such cases, where this is a given and known by both Defenders from the start, it can be important for the Defender on lead to use the first card led, to give a suit-preference in order to assist Partner’s choice as to which suit to switch-to for the start of trick two.  This is the same technique used when Partner plays the Ace at trick one, from an Ace-King combination and Dummy, once tabled, shows but a singleton in the suit led.  At such times, the Partner of the one on lead will give a suit-preference to assist his/her Partner as to which suit to switch-to at trick two.


     When your side has found a fit, or when you know that Dummy or Declarer is likely to hold a singleton, your lead, in the suit chosen at trick one, is a suit-preference to help Partner find the better continuation after winning the first trick.  





Bridge Tip # 431



      It is widely recommended that amongst one of the better leads against a suit contract is, oft times, a Trump card so as to cut down on the ruffing capacity of the hand with the shorter Trump holding, usually that of the Dummy.   Having opted to lead a Trump card, the Defender on lead must determine which Trump card should be chosen to be led, and whether or not to lead a Trump in the first instance.


     Although there is always an exception to any statistical probability, there are certain Trump holdings from which one might tend to lose a trick for the Defense if one chooses to lead Trump.  They are: JX, JXX, QX, QXX, or X.


     Assuming that one’s Trump holdings is not one of the above-listed, and assuming that there is not a better lead such as top of a sequence, or the suit bid by Partner, and any of a number of other possible good choices, and assuming that one chooses to lead a Trump card; which of the several trump cards should one choose to lead?   The answer is, when leading Trump, always choose the lowest Trump card.   The reasons for this are as follows:


1.     A higher Trump card held by you might be sufficient to disallow Declarer from trumping in the Dummy if that Defender holds a higher Trump than the Dummy and is short in the same suit.

2.     This informs Partner that all of the lower unseen Trump cards are held by the Declarer. Once known, this, oft times, facilitates the counting of the hand which might indicate a successful line of defense in preference from a lesser line, which might be less productive.


     Bottom line, intermediate Trump cards can be of immeasurable value later in the hand.  





Bridge Tip # 430



    In practice, when bidding in a competitive scenario, the higher the level of the competitive auction, the less likely it is in all practicality that one should bid on.   If you have succeeded in pushing the Opponents, then at some level, you must abandon the auction and hope that they have guessed wrong.   The following bridge axiom exists, therefore, consistent with this thinking:   Think twice before you bid five over five as the 5-level belongs to the Opponents.”  


     The factors which contribute to usually make it ill-advised to bid five over five are as follows:


1.     The Opponent’s hands are likely to be balanced such that your side will frequently have more winners against their 5-level contract than you might imagine.

2.     You and/or Partner are often likely to hold minor honors in their Trump suit and the Opponents are likely to have minor honors in yours.

3.     In defending against high-level contracts the numbers of card combinations that affect the results become diminished, and as a result, the chances of you or the Opponents erring become less likely.

4.     Unless the hand is very distributional, the trick-taking potential of the two sides, your and the Opponents, rarely exceeds 20 and, as a result, even if your five over five attempt works out, your potential profit is so small that it does not work out to be statistically profitable to justify the risk of your not making your five-level commitment.

5.     The combined trick-taking potential of the hands is often 19 or fewer and when this is so, five-over-five auctions are often disastrous.  





Bridge Tip # 429



     One of the bridge axioms known to most Players is “Eight ever, Nine never!”   This maxim refers to the fact that statistically, one should always (“ever”) finesse for a missing Queen with eight trumps, and “never” finesse when holding nine or more trumps.  


     A twist on the above-referenced axiom is “Eight never, Nine ever,” deals with a totally different bridge situation.   The decision that a Partnership is customarily faced with during competitive bidding is just how high to bid during competitive situations. Consistent with the “LAW OF TOTAL TRICKS,” when considering bidding to the 3-level over the Opponent’s 3-level contract, “always” bid when your side holds nine trumps, and “never” bid when holding only eight. 





Bridge Tip # 428



    Competitive bidding is an integral part of both IMP and Match Point duplicate play.  The problem of when to compete in part-score situations is not definitive, but useful guidelines do exist.   These guidelines assume that the HCP strength is nearly equally divided between the two sides.    


1.     Don’t save against a part-score when vulnerable. Only do so if you are reasonably certain that you will make your contract.

2.     Don’t save when you have honors in the Opponent’s suit(s) or honors in short suits.

3.     Don’t save when you have a balanced distribution.

4.     Do save when your side has a double fit.

5.     Do save when your high cards are concentrated in your long suits.

6.     When attempting to save, only attempt to do so when the number of Trumps held by your side is equal or greater than the number of tricks to which your bid commits (“THE LAW OF TOTAL TRAICKS”). This factor can be impacted by the location of high cards and distributional values of the Partnership’s hand. 




Bridge Tip # 427



     Splinter” bids, a double jump-shift of in a suit, can be used by either Opener (1H – 1S—“4D”) or Responder (1D – “3S”).  They show game-going values (20 + HCP’s by Opener and 13 + HCP’s by Responder, or their equivalent), at least a 4-card fit for Partner’s last-mentioned suit, and a singleton (not a singleton Ace) or a void in the splintered suit.    They are used for both game-forcing and slam exploration by guaranteeing a fit and enabling the Partnership to re-evaluate its holdings in a critical side suit which previously offered more losers than the Splinter bid will now, ultimately, eradicate.


     Splinter bids, thus, often enable a Partnership to arrive at a makeable Game, and to explore, if feasible, for a potential slam without the requisite number of HCP’s and, alternatively, stay out of an un-makeable slam (one with the presence of duplication) that they might otherwise unknowingly reach.


     Subsequent to a Splinter bid, the Partner, upon hearing the “Splinter,” is usually in a position to best judge his/her side’s slam prospect.   With high-card strength, other than the Ace in Partner’s splinter suit, slam possibilities increase, and with no wasted values, the Partnership’s high-card points are enhanced.   Once motivated by the “Splinter” bid to seek the possibility of the presence of a previously-unsuspected slam, the use of an Ace-asking convention can further facilitate and explore for slam prospects.





Bridge Tip # 426



     A 3-NT response to Partner’s opening bid of either 1H or 1S can vary amongst Partnerships, and needs to be discussed so as to avoid miss-interpretation.   The three most common natural interpretations are as follows:


1.     13-15 HCP’s, necessarily denying support for Partner’s Major

2.     13-15 HCP’s with 3- or 4-card support for Partner’s Major, but with a 4-3-3-3 or a 3-4-3-3 distribution such that the HCP and losing trick counts are out of sync.  Such hands are best played in 3-NT for a better match point score.

3.     16-18 HCP’s; i.e., a hand equivalent to a strong 1-NT opening with Slam interest if Opener holds greater than minimum opening values.





Bridge Tip # 425



     Opening leads can, and oft times do, affect the final result of most contracts.   Leads against small slams and grand slams bid by the Opponents are necessarily different than leads against partial or game-level contracts. 


     A.  As a general rule, one should make attacking leads against small slams, with the objective being to set us a defensive trick, assuming that an entry exists which enables the defense to win the established trick before Declarer can cash twelve winners.   Therefore, leads against a small slam should be:


1.     from a solid honor sequence, if present;

2.     from an interrupted honor sequence or two touching honors in a suit that has not been bid naturally by the Opponents;

3.     a singleton if there is a chance that Partner holds either the Ace of that suit or the Ace of trumps;

4.     from an unsupported King or Queen that has not been bid naturally by the Opponents;

5.     an un-bid suit in hopes of finding Partner’s strength

6.     Do not lead aggressively against a 6-NT contract – safety should be the operative word if you do not have an honor sequence to lead.


     B.  Leads against a grand-slam are, again, necessarily different from leads against small slams.  An Ace should not be led if the Opponents, on their way to bidding the slam, did not use either the “Gerber” or the “Blackwood” Ace-asking conventions.   In addition, do not chance giving up a trick by leading aggressively.   Leads from a long suit through Dummy’s bid suit(s) or a trump lead are usually best.






Bridge Tip # 424



     In the “2/1 game-forcing” system of bidding, the use of the “forcing no-trump” is an important adjunctive convention when responding to an opening 1H or 1S bid by Partner.  The question arises, however, as to whether or not the “forcing no-trump” should be used by a “passed” hand, and whether or not Opener should feel compelled to bid in response to this “semi-forcing1-NT response by Opener’s “previously-passed” Partner.  The answer comes down to a Partnership discussion as to (1) does the Partnership play “Drury,” (2) does the Partnership customarily condone the opening of a good 4-card Major suit in the 3rd  seat, and (3) how weak does the Partnership allow for a 3rd seat opening call.


     Bottom line, if a Partnership never opens a 4-card Major, and rarely opens with sub-minimum values in the 3rd seat, there is no reason not to play a 1-NT response over a Major as forcing by a previously-passed hand.


     Beneficial understandings when a previously-passed hand bids a semi-forcing, no-trump call:

1.     Some form of “Drury,” either “regular,” “reverse,” or “2-way reverse” should be used.

2.     A 2/1 response, since the Player has “previously passed,” shows limited strength, a good, suggested, outside suit, and denies a fit for Opener’s Major suit.

3.     Thus, a semi-forcing no-trump call, by default, denies both (1) and (2) above; namely, a fit for Opener’s suit and a good outside suit that Responder wishes to suggest.


     As a result, if Opener holds minimum or even sub-minimum values and no convenient re-bid, Opener should elect to “pass” a “semi-forcing1-NT call bid by a “previously-passed” hand, electing, alternatively, to end the auction in a playable 1-NT part-score. 





Bridge Tip # 423



     Some Partnerships have an understanding that, when vulnerable, their 1-NT opening shows 15-17 HCP’s; and when not vulnerable, their 1-NT opening exhibits 12-14 HCP’s.  This is alertable!   The weak opening 1-NT bid has several advantages over its stronger counterpart.  These are as follows:


1.     Balanced minimum opening bids sometimes cause re-bid problems for Opener, and the weak NT opening solves these potential problems before they arise.


2.     When vulnerable and holding 15-17 HCP’s, Opener shows this by Opening          one-of-a-suit and then re-bidding 1-NT.  This, too, is alertable!  This approach has the advantage of allowing Responder, holding a weak hand, to bid a 4-card suit at the    1-level enabling the Partnership to potentially find a “Golden Fit” that would have otherwise been missed had the opening bid been 1-NT.


3.     By pre-empting the one-level of bidding with a weak 1-NT opening call, you force your Opponents to either stay out of the auction, or to start their bidding communication at the 2-level.  There is complication and danger for them in either event.


4.     Weak No-Trump openings seem to invite ill-advised competition by the Opponents, thereby placing the 1-NT opener’s Partner in position to judge the best action for his/her side.   A weak NT opening thus tends to collect more penalties than stronger NT opening calls.


     To avoid being one-sided on this issue, and to explore the other side of the coin, the dangers inherent in using the weak No-Trump openings are as follows:


1.     There is a greater danger of getting doubled without an acceptable and effective escape, thereby suffering a substantial penalty score.


2.     There is a danger of missing a 4-4 Major suit fit.


3.     There is also a danger in missing a good Minor suit fir which might play better than 1-NT.


4.     There is a danger of “going against the field” or getting hand played from the “wrong” side when the Responder has a better hand than the no-trump Opener.


SUMMATION:  Partnerships must discuss the pros and cons, as listed above, and make a decision as to whether or not they decide to use this duplicity of opening 1-NT calls, dependent singularly upon vulnerability.





Bridge Tip # 422



      After your Partner has overcalled, a cue-bid by you of the suit bid by your right-hand Opponent (RHO), is an invitation to game in Partner’s overcall suit, evidencing a limit raise or better in support of Partner (Example 1), and a jump-cue-bid by you of the suit bid by your RHO asks Opener to bid 3-NT with 13 or more HCP’s and a stopper in Opener’s suit (Example 2).


     Example 1:    You hold:   AXXX  XX  AQXX  KXX


                                    West            North (Partner)            East            South (You)    

                                     1H                        1S                         Pass                  “2H” 



     Example 2:    You hold:   QX  XX  AQXXX  AQXX


                                    West            North (Partner)            East            South (You)    

                                     1H                        1S                         Pass                  “3H” 





Bridge Tip # 421



      If often becomes necessary to make the decision as to whether or not to allow the bidding to end at a low level whenever there is an opening bid followed by two successive “Passes” (one-of-a-suit – pass – pass -- ?), or when the bidding ends at a low level after your Opponents have established a fit (one-of-a-suit – pass – two-of-the same-suit – pass – pass -- ?).  Statistically, your Opponents are not likely to hold much more than one-half of the available HCP’s during such bidding sequences.


     Allowing the bidding to end under such circumstances is unlikely to be a match-point advisable decision when playing under duplicate conditions, since the bidding, thus far, has shown that the Opponents do not have a preponderance of the available HCP’s.   In addition, if the Opponents even do have a fit, the odds greatly favor that your side also holds a fit.  Conventional wisdom is that one should, under either of the above-mentioned conditions look at your Spade suit.   If you hold 5 or more pieces, or a good 4-piece Spade holding, bid them.   With 3- or a poor 4-card Spade suit, make a Take-Out Double.   With two appropriate 5-card suits make either a “Michaels” or an “Unusual 2-NT” call.  Bottom line, when the Opponents are happy to stop at the 2-level, and have found a fit, do not let them play there!   Even if you were to compete and to go down, the Opponents are not likely to “double” your contract, and you will either make a plus-score in your direction, else give up fewer match points than they would have achieved by making their thus-far, stated contract.


     Alternatively, when the bidding dies at a low level and your Opponents have not necessarily established the presence of a fit, the situation is entirely different.  In such bidding sequences such as,  (1H – Pass – 2C – Pass – 2H – Pass – Pass –?), or (1H – Pass – 1-NT – Pass – Pass –?), you are advised to “Pass,” and not to compete.  The Opponent’s bidding suggests a minimum of 22 HCP’s.   With this much strength, one of two circumstances exists, either (1) your Opponents have erred in stopping short of a game-level contract, or (2) they have judged the auction correctly having diagnosed a misfit that will produce only a part-score.   Under either circumstance you should remain silent and not enter the auction.  To “balance,” and to enter the auction, under these afore-mentioned circumstances, will usually either allow your Opponents to re-enter the auction and make a game, find a better part-score, else, without the afore-mentioned holdings, your side attempts to compete, and gets “doubled,” giving-up more match points that would be gleaned by the Opponents, if you were to stay out of the auction.       







Bridge Tip # 420



     A “Trap-Pass” is a “Pass” by a Player holding a strong hand, hoping the opposition will bid themselves into difficulties.  It is usually made by a Player holding both length and strength in the suit bid by the Opening Bidder seated to his/her right.  Under these circumstances, there is strong evidence, at least thus far in the bidding, that the hand is a misfit, and that it will pay to defend rather than to bid.


     A Trap-Pass” becomes a doubtful proposition when holding 18 or 19 HCP’s, and is customarily unwise when hold 20 or more HCP’s, as the danger in passing up a game in favor of a small penalty becomes too great.


     Alternatively, with a strong, but short holding in the enemy’s suit, it is often best to either make a Take-Out Double with appropriate support for the as-yet, un-bid suits, else to make an overcall of

1-NT with  balanced distribution and sufficient strength.


     When making a “Trap-Pass,” it is important and critical to “Pass,” “in tempo.”   To hesitate and to then “Pass” is potentially detrimental for two reasons:


1.     It is likely to be counter-productive to alert your Opponents that you have a good hand and likely length and strength in Opener’s suit, especially if you end up defending against a final contract bid by your Opponents.


2.     Partner is not entitled to the information that would be conveyed if you were to hesitate followed by a reluctant “Pass.”  Under the worst circumstances, Partner may become barred from the bidding if such a message were to be potentially construed.   






Bridge Tip # 419



          When your right-hand Opponent (RHO) raises Opener’s (your LHO’s) suit, after your Partner has overcalled, a “Double,” by you, is “Responsive” (for Take-Out), not for Penalty (Example 1).   It shows at least 8 HCP values, lack of support for Partner’s overcall suit, and a desire to compete in the auction in either of the two, as-yet, un-bid suits.  Responsive Doubles” are alertable!


                                      West            North            East            South    

    Example 1:                1H                 1S                2H             Double (“Responsive”) 

                                                                                      (Clubs and Diamonds, in the instance)



     Alternatively, when your right-hand Opponent (RHO) responds in a new suit, other than that bid by Opener, after your Partner has overcalled in yet a third suit, a “Double,” by you, is a ”Rosenkranz Double,” (not for Penalty, nor for Take-Out) (Example 2).   It shows HCP values, and constructive support for Partner’s suit, including either the Ace or the King of Partner’s bid suit.   If you, alternatively, had supported Partner’s suit directly, absent the “Rosenkranz Double,” it would have shown support, but without the Ace or King (Example 3).   Rosenkranz Doubles” are also alertable!


     The advantage of this differentiation is that, following the completion of the auction, if you and Partner become Defenders, whether it is used or not becomes helpful in your decision with regards to making the opening lead.   With this differentiation, you and Partner can know definitively whether it is, or is not, safe to lead your jointly-bid suit, away from either the Ace or the King, which, if Partner does not hold the missing top honor, may result in the loss of a trick for your side.   With the Rosenkranz Double having been used, you can lead away from either the Ace or the King; without the Rosenkranz Double having been used, the Partner on lead will wait until the suit is led by his/her Partner, and will not lead away from either the Ace or the King, as it is not safe to do so.


                                      West            North            East            South    

    Example 2:                1D                 1S                2C             Double (“Rosenkranz”) 

                                                                                               (Support of Partner’s Spades)

                                                                                                 (With the Ace or the King)


                                      West            North            East            South    

    Example 3:                1D                 1S                2C                2S 

                                                                                               (Support of Partner’s Spades)

                                                                                              (Without the Ace or the King)


 Summary:  A “Double” by you, as Responder to Partner’s overcall, after your left-hand Opponent (LHO) has opened the bidding with one-of-a-suit and that same suit has been supported by your right-hand Opponent (RHO), (Example 1), is always a “Responsive Double.”   (Note:  Only two suits have been bid at the table!)   Whereas:

                     A “Double” by you, as Responder to Partner’s overcall, after your left-hand Opponent (LHO) has opened the bidding with one-of-a-suit and your right-hand Opponent (RHO) has responded in a second suit, (Example 2), is always considered to be a “Rosenkranz Double.”   (Note:  Three different suits have been bid at the table!)


The two are mutually exclusive.





Bridge Tip # 418



     When using the “Two-over-One, Game-Forcing” bidding system, the following adjunctive conventions are used in sync for optimum results:


1.     A strong 1-NT opening (15-17 HCP’s) with Stayman and Jacoby Transfer bids

2.     5-card Majors

3.     A forcing NT response to Major suit opening bids

4.     Pre-emptive jump-shift responses

5.     Limit Major suit raises or Bergen Raises

6.     Inverted Minor suit raises

7.     New Minor Forcing

8.     Negative and Responsive Doubles

9.     4th suit Forcing by Responder

10. Splinter Bids

11. “Namyats”



     When an “Unusual 2-No-Trump” overcall ( a distributional 5-5 or better Minor suit overcall) is used by your right-hand Opponent (RHO) after your Partner opens with a strong 1-NT opening bid, the following responses are recommended:


     3C = Stayman for the Majors (game values)

    3D” = Transfer to Hearts

    3H” = Transfer to Spades

     3S” = 5-5 in the Majors (game-forcing)

    3-NT = Natural, to play

 Double = Interest in doubling one, or both, Minors






Bridge Tip # 416


     When responding to Partner’s opening bid of one-of-a-suit, followed by a 1-NT overcall by the would-be Responder’s RHO, Responder, other than a non-competitive, “Pass,” has multiple bidding choices as follows:


                                      West                    North                  East    

    Example 1:       1C, 1D, 1H, 1S            1-NT            Double (Penalty) 



                                       West                    North                  East    

    Example 2:       1C, 1D, 1H, 1S            1-NT           2C, 2D, 2H, 2S (Competitive) 



                                       West                    North                  East    

    Example 3:       1C, 1D, 1H, 1S            1-NT          3C, 3D, 3H, 3S (Pre-emptive) 



                                       West                    North                  East    

    Example 4:              1H, 1S                   1-NT          2C, 2D (6 + Diamonds)

                                                                                         (Non-forcing with 0-7 HCP’s) 






Bridge Tip # 415



     Often, when Partner makes a Jacoby Transfer following your opening strong (15-17 HCP) 1-NT bid, your right-hand Opponent (RHO) makes a “Lead-Directing Double.”


1-NT – P – (“2D” or “2H”) – “Double” – P



     Normally, absent the “Lead-Directing Double,” Opener either takes the transfer into the referenced suit, 2H or 2S in the above example, or, on occasion, 3H or 3S, denoting a “Super-Acceptance” of four pieces of the referenced suit along with the maximum 17 HCP holding.   Following the “Double,” however, Opener is relieved of the responsibility of taking the transfer in that his/her responding Partner is afforded another bid owing to Responder’s left-hand Opponent (LHO) having made the “Double.” 


     Under these conditions, therefore, we can ascribe individual meanings to whether or not Opener does or does not take the transfer, as follows:    


            (a)          1-NT – P – (“2D”/“2H”) – “Double” – P

                           Pass (“I have only 2-pieces of your desired suit”)


            (b)          1-NT – P – (“2D”/“2H”) – “Double” – P

                        (2H/2S) (“I have 3-pieces of your desired suit, along with 15-16 HCP’s”)


            (c)          1-NT – P – (“2D”/“2H”) – “Double” – P

                        (3H/3S) (“I have 4-pieces of your desired suit, along with 17 HCP’s”)






Bridge Tip # 414



     Excluding dialogue on “Puppet Stayman,” “Garbage Stayman,” and “Crawling Stayman,” three modifications of the Stayman Convention which impact, to some extent, the following dialogue, there needs to be an understanding between Partners as to what is the minimum accepted high-card point (HCP) count necessary, under normal conditions, for Responder to successfully employ the “2C” asking-bid, following Partner’s strong opening (15-17 HCP) 1-NT bid.


     It is clear, that, on occasion, when Responder has either one or both 4-card Major suit holdings, and uses the Stayman Convention seeking the presence of a potential “Golden Fit,” that Opener may have either no 4-card Major suit at all, or holds the opposite one to which Responder is seeking.   Under these circumstances, Responder, therefore, needs a sufficient high-card point count such that the Partnership’s return to either a 2-NT or 3-NT final contract is likely to succeed, should the Major suit, fit-seeking attempt fail for either of the reasons just enumerated.  


     Obviously, if Responder holds 9-10 HCP’s, he/she, hearing either a “2D” negative response, or a 2H or 2S call from Opener representing Opener’s holding of the opposite Major suit from that which Responder is seeking, Responder can use a fall-back continuation of a “2-NT” re-bid, inviting Opener to either “Pass” with a 15 or poor 16 HCP count, or to accept the invitation by bidding 3-NT, when holding a good 16 or maximum 17 HCP count.


     Confusion exists, however, and mistakes are often made with some Partnerships, when Responder holds 8 HCP’s, or fewer.   Using Stayman under these conditions, and failing to find the Major suit fit sought, if Responder were to then re-bid 2-NT, Opener might, with a good 16 HCP count accept the invitation and proceed to what turns out to be, at best, a 24 HCP count, game-level, 3-NT contract, one which is statistically likely to fail, under some circumstances.


     Conventional wisdom is, therefore, that Responder, with fewer than 9 HCP’s, and with the exclusions noted at the start of this discussion, should not employ Stayman, unless the following distributional mitigating conditions prevail:


a.     8 HCP’s and an outside 5-card suit, or

b.    7 HCP’s and an outside 6-card suit


     With either of these added distributional holdings, Opener holds a better opportunity of establishing 9-tricks with the added assistance of the presence of Responder’s long outside suit, even if the “Golden Fit” sought, is not found.


     Conclusion: With the exception of “Puppet,” “Garbage,” and “Crawling” Stayman, do not employ Stayman opposite Partner’s strong 15-17 HCP count opening 1-NT, with fewer than 9-HCP’s unless a compensating, potentially helpful, outside long suit is present.        





Bridge Tip # 413



      Much confusion exists with regards to the correct verbalization informing Opponents as to a Partnership’s agreement when conducting Jacoby Transfers, and similar bids, responding to Partner’s opening 1-NT call.   


     It is universally agreed that (1) when a “2D” response is made, transferring to Hearts; and (2) when a “2H” response is made, transferring to Spades; that the correct and accepted verbalization, by Opener, is the word “transfer.”   This is because Opener, under these circumstances, is irrevocably aware that the Responder holds five or more of the desired suit referenced, and wishes Opener to become the Declarer, should the referenced suit become the denomination of the final contract.

     However, if the Responder’s call, opposite Opener’s 1-NT opening bid, is “2S,” there is a possible duplicity of meaning, depending upon Partnership agreement.


     (3) If the Partnership’s agreement is that, like (1) and (2) above, Responder holds five or more Clubs and wishes Opener to make a 3C call in order to become the Declarer in a potential Club contract, then, like before, Opener’s verbalization is again, correctly, the word “transfer.”


     (4) If, however, the Partnership’s agreement is that Opener is to make a “puppet” call of “3C” with Responder either “passing,” if that be Responder’s desired intent, else “correcting” to 3D, if the Responder prefers that Minor, then the proper and correct verbalization by Opener is the word “alert.”  Here, as you can clearly see, Opener, at the time of his or her “puppet   re-bid of “3C” has no idea, yet, as to which Minor suit Responder is referencing.  Using the word “transfer,” under these circumstances, would be incorrect.






Bridge Tip # 412





Premise:  Holding sufficient HCP’s to bid a new suit at the 2-level, A Responder who bids, at the 2-level, the suit immediately below the suit bid at the 1-level by Opener, holds five or more pieces of that newly bid suit; i.e.,

2.    A 2H first response over Opener’s opening bid of 1S shows 5 (+) pieces.

3.    A 2D first response over Opener’s opening bid of 1H shows 5 (+) pieces.

4.      A 2C first response over Opener’s opening bid of 1D shows 5 (+) pieces.




1.    A 2H first response by a Responder, over Opener’s opening bid of 1S, shows 5 or more Hearts:   Since Responder did not support Opener’s Spade bid, Responder holds, at most, 2-Spades; and if, hypothetically, Responder’s Heart suit held only 4 pieces then he/she would have no fewer than 7-pieces in the two minor suits, one of which would have to have held no fewer than 4-pieces.  Responder’s hand would thus hold, minimally, either of the two distributions shown here.          

                                                  xx                                                  xx

                                  (1)     xxxx               (or)               (2)     xxxx

                                            xxxx                                              xxx

                                            xxx                                                xxxx


     If Responder’s hand held either of the afore-mentioned distributions, however, his/her correct first response, holding two 4-card choices, would have been 2D in the first example or 2C in the second.   Since Responder’s first response was 2H, his/her distribution necessarily had to have had, at least, one more card in the Heart suit.


2.    A 2D first response by a Responder, over Opener’s opening bid of 1H, shows 5 or more Diamonds:   Since Responder did not support Opener’s Heart bid, Responder holds, at most, 2-Hearts; and since Responder’s first call was not an “Up-the-Ladder” bid of 1S, he/she could not hold 4-Spades and would hold, at most, 3-Spades; and if Responder’s Diamond suit held only 4 pieces then he/she would also have to hold a 4-card Club suit.  Responder’s distribution would, thus, be:                                                                 






If Responder’s hand held the afore-mentioned distribution, his/her correct first    response, holding two 4-card choices, would have been 2C.   Since Responder’s first response was 2D, his/her distribution necessarily had to have had, at least, one more card in the Diamond suit.


3.    A 2C first response by a Responder, over Opener’s opening bid of 1D, shows 5 or more Clubs.   Since Responder did not make an “Up-the-Ladder” first response of 1H or 1S, he/she had to have, at most, 3-pieces of both Major suits.   Secondly, since Responder did not respond with a No-Trump call, at any level, his/her distribution was not likely to be balanced.   One of many unbalanced distributions could exist, but one factor is clear.  As a result of the aforementioned statements coupled with the fact that the Responder did not raise Opener’s Diamond call (indicating that he/she has fewer than 5-pieces of Partner’s Diamond suit), supports the conclusion that Responder has to have no fewer than 5-pieces of the Club suit.





Bridge Tip # 411


  Today, in the “Standard American” system of bidding, an opening call of 1-NT, irrespective of vulnerability, evidences a balanced hand with 15-17 HCP’s.   In the British “ACOL” system of bidding, the same opening call evidences a balanced hand with 12-14 HCP’s.


     Many Players, today, however, in the “Standard American” system, dependent upon vulnerability, have their 1-NT opening calls showing, when vulnerable, 15-17 HCP’s, and when non-vulnerable, 12-14 HCP’s. 


     When non-vulnerable, the opening of 1-NT with the 12-14 HCP range has a pre-emptive effect of eliminating the 1-level of bidding, making it more difficult for either Opponent to enter the auction.   If this latter method of bidding is utilized, then when non-vulnerable, an opening call of any other bid than 1-NT, shows either greater values than 12-14 HCP’s, else an unbalanced distribution.





Bridge Tip # 410


A.   A “Splinter Bid (a Double Jump-Shift) is an extremely useful way to show trump support for Partner and, at the same time, shortness in the suit used to “Splinter.”   Such bids show game values and either a singleton (not a singleton Ace), or a void, in the suit used to “Splinter.”  Since “Splinter” bids promise game values, they are forcing to a game-level contract,  Thus, a “Splinter” bid by the Responder (Example 1) shows 13 (+) HCP’s, and aSplinter” bid by the Opener, opposite Responder’s call, (Example 2) shows 20 (+) HCP’s.  All “Splinter” Bids are alertable.


                                    West      North       East      South

    Example 1:               1H           P           “4D

                                                           (East’s bid here is a “Splinter” bid and shows Heart support, 13+ HCP’s, a singleton or void in Diamonds, and is forcing to game.)  



                                     West      North       East      South

    Example 2:                1H           P             1S           P


                              (West’s bid here is a “Splinter” bid and shows Spade support, 20+ HCP’s, a singleton or a void in Clubs, and is forcing to game.)





B.      A single jump shift by an Opener, following a 2-level response from Responder is also a “Splinter” Bid.   It is called a “Mini-Splinter.”


                                     West      North       East      South

    Example 3:                1S            P            2H           P


                              (West’s bid here shows Heart support, game values or better, a singleton or a void in Clubs, and is forcing to game.)




      C.   A jump-levelReverse” by an Opener is also a “Splinter” Bid.  If West had bid 2H, here, it would have been a “natural” call showing a secondary Heart suit.  It would have been a simple “Reverse” bid; i.e., showing 17 (+) HCP’s, with the Club suit greater in length than the Hearts, a lack of support for Responder’s Spade suit, and would have been forcing for 1-round.  The “Mini-Splinter” bid here of “3H,” however, shows support for Partner’s Spades, with a singleton or void in Hearts, and is invitational to game.  If West, alternatively, had had 20 (+) HCP’s with this same Spade support, West would have gone directly to 4S, and thus this “Mini-Splinter” is invitational to game.


                                     West      North       East      South

    Example 4:               1C            P             1S           P


                              (West’s single jump-shift Reverse here shows 16 (+) HCP’s, a singleton or void in Hearts, and support for Partner’s Spades), and is invitational to game in Spades.





Bridge Tip # 409


    In the “Standard American” bidding system an opening bid of 1-NT, has traditionally required 15-17 HCP’s and an evenly-balanced distribution; namely, one with no singletons and no voids.

It could, at the discretion of the Opener’s, however, hold two doubletons.   The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) has now slightly modified its stipulations with regards to acceptable distributions for a 1-NT opening bid. 


New Stipulation:   At the discretion of the Opening-Bidder, the distribution of an opening bid of 1-NT may now hold a singleton as long as the singleton is an A, K, or Q, (Examples a & b), and as long as, in addition, there is not an accompanying doubleton (Example c).  As before, one may still hold two doubletons (Example d).


(a) AQxx  Kxxx  K  AJxx     (or)     (b) AQxx  Kxx  A  KJxxx   (May now Open  1-NT)


(c) A  Kxxxx  Kx  AJxx   (May not open  1-NT – Must open 1H, instead)


 (d) AQ  Kx  Kxxxx  AJxx   (Can either open 1-NT or 1D)





Bridge Tip # 408


Bidding a No-Trump call in the balancing (4th) seat means different things when made at different levels and under varying circumstances.



      1.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                


            1-of-any-suit        Pass              Pass                          1-NT


                 North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                

           1-of-any-suit         Pass              Pass                          1-NT


              A 1-NT bid in the balancing seat, by either a non-passed hand or by a previously-passed hand both show 10-14 HCP’s, an evenly-balanced hand, and a desired, but not mandatory, stopper in the suit bid made by Opener. 



       2.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                

             1C/1D/1H           Pass              Pass                          Double

                 Pass             1D/1H/1S        Pass                            1-NT


             A 1-NT re-bid in the balancing seat, by a hand which previously made Take-Out Double shows a strong, balanced holding (15-17 HCP’s), a lack of support for Responder’s bid suit, and at least one stopper in Opener’s bid suit; i.e., a strong 1-NT opening.




        3.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                


            1-of-any-suit         Pass              Pass                         2-NT


             A 2-NT bid in the balancing seat, by a hand which had previously passed is an “Unusual-NT” bid showing 5-5 in the two, lower, un-bid suits, with 5-11 HCP’s.





      4.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                

           1-of-any-suit         Pass              Pass                          2-NT


              A 2-NT bid in the balancing seat, by an hand which had not previously bid, shows a balanced hand with 18-19 HCP’s and at least one stopper in Opener’s bid suit.





       5.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                

             1C/1D/1H           Pass              Pass                          Double

                 Pass            1D/1H/1S         Pass                            2-NT


              A 2-NT bid in the balancing seat, by a hand which previously made a Take-Out Double and then re-bids 2-NT, over Partner’s suit call at his/her cheapest possible level, shows an opening strong 2-NT holding (20-21 HCP’s), a lack of support for Partner’s bid suit, and at least one stopper in Opener’s bid suit.




Bridge Tip # 407



     Previously we touched upon the fact that in the direct (2nd) seat, any bid made by a   would-be Overcaller must rigidly conform to specific standardized requirements.  Among these are


                               North               East             South             West                                                

                           1-of-a-suit           ????



a.     A simple overcall, at the 1-level, Overcaller’s suit being of higher rank than Opener’s suit, demonstrates a 5-card or longer suit (major or minor), and 8-15 high-card points.

b.    A simple overcall, at the 2-level, Overcaller’s suit being of lower rank than Opener’s suit, demonstrates a 5-card or longer suit (major or minor), and 11-15 high-card points.

c.     A bid of 1-NT demonstrates an evenly balanced hand, 15-17 HCP’s, and at least 1-stopper in Opener’s bid suit.

d.    A Take-Out Double shows opening count, its equivalent, or better, and the appropriate shape, defined as fewer than three cards in Opener’s bid suit.


      In the balancing (4th) seat, however, all of the above-listed, mandatory requirements for any and all of the potential overcalls shown above are eliminated so as to give the Opponents feasibility to enter the auction without obstruction.



                              North               East             South             West                                                

                           1-of-a-suit           Pass              Pass              ????



a.     A simple overcall, at the 1-level or at the 2-level can be made with even as few as 4-cards and is not restricted as to HCP count.

b.    A bid of 1-NT now evidences 10-14 HCP’s and a stopper in Opener’s suit, although desirable, is not necessarily required as implicitly implied above in the direst (2nd) seat.

c.     A Take-Out Double can be made with fewer HCP’s than opening count or its equivalent, and shape, although desirable, is not necessarily mandatory.


     The standardized requirements for most overcalls differ in the direct (2nd) seat as opposed to similar overcalls potentially made in the balancing (4th) seat.





Bridge Tip # 406



     Until recently, it was universally accepted that the appropriate distribution for an opening Standard American 1-NT call was a hand holding no voids, no singletons, and, at most, one doubleton.   Suppose, however, you were to pick up a hand such as:                                                                                                              


K   K832   KQ932   AJ4


     If you were to open with the customary 1D, and Responder were to respond 1S, you may notPass,” (a new suit bid by Responder is forcing for 1-round!), but what re-bid would be correct?


a.     A re-bid of 1-NT would show a balanced 12-14 HCP’s. 

          Problem: You are neither balanced nor holding 12-14 HCP’s)

b.    A re-bid of 2D would tend to show 6 or more pieces held within the Diamond suit.

          Problem: A possible option, but still a distortion.

c.     A re-bid of 2H would be a “Reverse,” showing 17 (+) HCP’s

          Problem: Not true, and the worst lie


     Although, of the above listed alternatives, (b) appears the best lie, but there is another option, one that has just recently been approved by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL).  Simply open 1-NT!


    “A No-Trump opening or overcall is natural and now accepted if, by Partnership agreement, it contains no void, at most one singleton which must be the A, K, or Q, or no more than two doubletons.   If the hand contains a singleton, it may not have a doubleton.”    






Bridge Tip # 405


     Many bridge Players are under the false assumption that the only requirement for a Take-Out Double in the direct (2nd) seat is opening count, its equivalent, or better.   This is not true!   A Take-Out double requires not only opening count, its equivalent, or better, but also shape.


       You Hold:  K964       North    East(You)    South    West  

               8           1S       ??????




      Pass!   East, here, could and should, with glee, “double” if the opening bid had been 1H.    Under that hypothetical situation, East holds the perfect shape and could stand hearing from any of the possible other three suit choices that West, hypothetically, were to make.  


     Here, however, with the opening bid having bid 1S, East should expect, and cannot tolerate, a response of 2H from Partner.    Under most circumstances, the ability to tolerate only some of the possible choices that Responder was to possibly make is unacceptable.   Stay out of the auction unless prodded to do otherwise by Partner.  Hope for a plus score by defending rather than by bidding offensively.   


     In order to correctly make a Take-Out Double in the direct (2nd) seat, one needs opening count, its equivalent, or better, and also shape.   Shape,” under these circumstances, is defined as fewer than 3-pieces of Opener’s bid suit.    If you are considering making a Take-Out Double, in the direct seat, and hold three or more pieces of Opener’s bid suit, you must not make a Take-Out Double, for you do not have the required shape.  You must “Pass.”   


     The requirements for bidding anything in the direct (2nd) seat are rigid.   They cannot be violated.  Whether it be a simple suit overcall, an overcall of 1-NT, a Michaels cue-bid, a pre-emptive jump response, or a Take-Out Double, the necessary and presumed requirements cannot be discounted and avoided.  Partner will always expect them to have been followed.   Good Partnerships are based upon consistency and trust.




Bridge Tip # 404


  In the “Two-Over-One, Game-Forcing System,” a new suit at the 2-level, bid by Responder, absent competition, is customarily forcing to game with one exception, if agreed-to by the Partnership.  


                     North         East        South        West                                                

                       1B            Pass           2A (Game forcing)


          North         East        South        West                                                

                  1H or 1S       Pass      2C or /2D     Pass

                  2H or 2S       Pass       3C or 3D (Can be “Passed” by Partnership agreement)


     In competition, however, a new suit by Responder, bid at the 2-Level, shows 10 or more HCP’s, and is not necessarily forcing to game.  So as not to impede the bidding when in competition, the “Two-Over-One” is no longer necessarily in effect.


              North         East        South        West                                                

                       1B              2A           2E (Not forcing to Game = 10 (+) HCP’s)         




Bridge Tip # 403


     Previous, most bridge players espoused an upper limit for the strength of a negative double.  Many put it at 3S, some even at 4H.   As part of this thinking, following either a 4S pre-emptive overcall, or a 4S opening bid, a “Double’ by the opposition meant penalties, and a “4-NT” bid was for “Take-Out.”


     Today, many experts espouse no upper limit, and with that in mind, the following new meanings have been placed on the previously mentioned oppositional bids described above.   After a 4S opening bid or a 4S preemptive overcall as shown here:


       (a)      North         East        South                            North         East        South                                                    

                   1C              4S         Double          (or)                               4S         Double


     The “Double” under either of theses bidding circumstances is a 3-suited overcall with game values or better.    




       (b)      North         East        South                            North         East        South                                                    

                   1C              4S          4-NT            (or)                               4S           4-NT       


     The “4-NT” bid under either of these bidding circumstances is a 2-suited overcall with game values or better.


Obviously, any changes, as outlined in both (a), and (b), above, must be agreed-to, by Partnership understanding and agreement.





Bridge Tip # 402


Leading from AK combinations


     A. On the opening lead, against a suit contract, Defenders customarily lead the Ace from any AKx(x) side suit holding, if that suit is chosen to be led.  Naturally, if the AK is led from a doubleton holding, however, the sequence chosen is the opposite, (the King first and then the Ace), so as to identify the doubleton holding to Partner in order to signal for a ruffing potential at a later time.


     There are, however, three exceptions, against a suit contract, when holding an AKx(x) combination, when the Ace is not led on opening lead (you lead the King, first, instead), and they are as follows:


1)  When you are leading a suit which Partner has bid, whether you have supported it or not.

2)  When you are leading a suit which you have bid, and which Partner has supported.

3)  When you are defending against a suit contract at the 5-level, or higher.


     These three exceptions just enumerated have a specific goal.  In each of these three cases, Partner’s card discarded on your King, whether high or low, shows one thing and one thing only; namely, whether or not Partner does or does not hold the Queen.  A high card discarded shows that Partner does indeed hold the Queen, whereas a low discard denies the presence of the Queen.   If the Queen is signaled and, thus, held by Partner, leader has the option to choose to under-lead the Ace.   By leader doing this, he/she telegraphs the desire for a specific, switch-of-suit return from Partner.   A high card returned asks for a switch to the higher-ranking of the two remaining suits, and a low card led asks for a switch to the lower-ranking of the two remaining suits.   Defense can be fun!!!!!!



     B. Alternatively, in the middle of the hand, against a suit contract, Defenders normally lead the King from any AKx(x) holding.  Once again, if the lead is made specifically from a doubleton, the opposite is chosen, namely the Ace first, and then the King.





Bridge Tip # 401


     Most Players permit Opener to make a game try (a “Super-Acceptance”) directly over a Jacoby Transfer bid by jumping in Partner’s suit when holding both:

a.     a maximum opening 1-NT count (17 HCP’s)

b.    4-pieces of Responder’s referenced suit


               Opener              Responder                       Opener              Responder

                 1-NT                     2D                                1-NT                     2H

                 “3H”                                        (or)            3S”


     This action holds a further benefit in that, as in the case of Bergen Raises, the jump in Partner’s referenced suit while the Partnership holds at least 9-pieces, also acts preemptively, even if the Responder holds very few HCP’s.   Bergen raises are based on the 7, a hand evaluation concept which states that with nine trumps one should compete at the three-level regardless of high card strength.


     Extending this concpt even further, many Players, today, when Opener holds 4-pieces of Responder’s referenced suit, expand this super-acceptance concept not-with-standing the number of HCP’s held by Opener, as follows:     


                Opener              Responder                         

                 1-NT                   2D/2H                                

                3H/3S (4-pieces and a minimum 15 or 16 HCP’s)                                      


                Opener              Responder                         

                 1-NT                   2D/2H                                

                 2-NT (4-pieces, a maximum 17 HCP’s and, specifically, a 4-3-3-3 distribution)                                      


                 Opener              Responder                         

                 1-NT                   2D/2H                                

                3C/3D (4-pieces, a maximum 17 HCP’s and a doubleton in the Minor suit bid)                                      





Bridge Tip # 400


     Customarily, a sequence of bidding between you and Partner, the Opponents having passed throughout, of 1S, 2H, 3C or 3D would be considered a “High Reverse.”  This is why when holding the following:  AKJXX, XX, X, AQXXX, Opener, playing standard systems, should open 1C and plan to re-bid Spades twice as if 6-Clubs and 5-Spades were held.  To open with 1S, followed by a 3C or 3D re-bid after Partner were to, hypothetically, bid 2H would be a “High Reverse,” evidencing 17 or more HCP’s.


     The above problem, however, is not true if the Partnership is playing a 2/1 system of bidding, for a “High Reverse” does not exist in the 2/1 system of bidding.   With the above referenced hand, Opener should not hesitate to open 1S.  If Responder were to bid 1-NT, Opener could re-bid 2C, or 2D, respectively.   If Responder were to respond 2D or 2H, Opener could re-bid 3C without concern that 17 or more HCP would erroneously be shown.


     A “High Reverse” does not exist in the 2/1 bidding system in the game of bridge.      





Bridge Tip # 399



 It is often debated as to whether or not to open 1-NT when holding a 5-card Major and   15 or 16 HCP’s.  Consider the following example:  Opening 1H or 1-NT are both correct; but:







1.     A 1-NT opening is decisively more descriptive than opening one-of-a-Major.

An opening bid of 1H covers a wide range of strength; i.e., namely, from 11 - 21 HCP’s; and a distribution which could be either balanced or unbalanced.   Alternatively, an opening bid of 1-NT describes a narrow range of strength (15-17 HCP’s), and a balanced hand showing no voids, no singletons, and not more than one doubleton.    As a result, an opening bid of   1-NT, because it is more descriptive, is less likely to lead the Partnership into either under-bidding or over-bidding the final contract.



2.      A 1-NT opening avoids a potential re-bid problem.

If the above hand were to have been opened 1H, examine the possible re-bids should Partner responds 1S.   Passing is not an alternative, and,  

a.     1-NT would show a minimum balanced hand of 12-14 points (an under-bid)

b.    2-NT would show a strong balanced hand of 18-19 points (an over-bid)

c.     A jump to 3H would show 16-18 points and at least a six-card heart suit (incorrect on both counts)

d.    A re-bid of either 2C or 2D would show a second 4-card suit. (incorrect here)

There is no attractive re-bid if this hand were to have opened 1H under these conditions.



      3.   The 1-NT opening has some additional pre-emptive value over a 1H opening call.

Over a 1H opening bid, one’s left-hand Opponent (LHO) can enter the auction with a 1S overcall.   This is no longer possible if the opening bid were to have been 1-NT.  One’s Left-hand Opponent would have to enter the auction at the 2-level, and because Responder has a better descriptive picture of Opener's hand, Responder now has a clearer option to “double” any Overcall for penalty, else bid on more effectively. 



      4.   Concealing the five-card major can be an advantage in the play.  By concealing the 5-card Major suit holding, the Opponents may have greater difficulty in determining Declarer's distribution during the play of the hand. 


      5.   The stronger hand is more likely to be declaring.

After opening 1-NT, this hand is more likely to become the Declarer whether the Partnership plays in either No-Trump, or in a suit contract, should Stayman or Jacoby Transfer bids be used by Responder.   Keeping the strong hand concealed can, oft times, be advantageous during the play of the hand.   If you were to have opened the bidding with 1H, for example, and Partner were to have responded 1-NT, now Partner is likely to be the Declarer and the strong hand will be exposed. 

Conclusion: Do not hesitate to open 1-NT with a balanced hand that includes a 5-card major suit, especially if your HCP count is at the lower end of your Partnership’s three high-card point count range needed for a 1-NT opening (15-16 HCP’s for most Partnerships today).





Bridge Tip # 398



        The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) indicates that an opening weak-2 bid can hold as much as any seven (7) high-card point count spread to which a Partnership has agreed.   Most use a 5-11 HCP range.   There is no right-wrong to whatever spread to which a Partnership agrees.   The question arises however, as to what, if any, are the limits to which 5-11 HCP count holdings are used, and what outside distributions, in addition to the 6-card or longer suit used, are acceptable to the Partnership.


     Some, but not all Partnerships, agree that one should never open a weak 2-bid with an Ace outside the suit bid, while others say that one should never hold either an outside void or an outside 4-card Major suit holding.   These three limitations are not mandatory, rather are by Partnership agreement.  


     In addition, some insist that the suit used for the weak 2-bid should contain two of the top three honors (so-called “structured” or “disciplined” weak 2-bids), while others deny this necessity (so-called “unstructured” or “undisciplined” weak 2-bids).   Again this is simply by Partnership agreement.


     One limitation, however, that does seem to be universal, is simply that amongst the

5-11 HCP spread, any hand holding two Aces should never open a weak 2-bid, because the hand holds too strong a defensive capability.  


     These limitations and restrictions, as reviewed above, must be discussed and agreed-to by each Partnership for maximum results when utilizing weak 2-bids. 





Bridge Tip # 397



    In bridge, all bids, done correctly so as to describe both one’s high-card point count and distribution, are dependent not only upon one’s holdings, but also upon the bidding environment prior to one’s turn to bid.   In the examples shown below, four different re-bids are needed as a result of different bidding sequences, notwithstanding a lack of change of one’s holdings.


     What is the correct re-bid, and why, given your following hand in the various bidding sequences as shown herein?    You Hold: AKXX AQ XX AQXXX



1.     You open 1C and, after LHO “Passes,” Partner responds 1S.  RHO also “Passes!”  What is your correct re-bid?   (Answer: 4S)  Partner holds at least 6 HCP’s, or its equivalent, so you are assured that you have a combined holding of at least 26 HCP’s as your doubleton Diamond and doubleton Heart holdings are now worth a cumulative extra two points.  A re-bid of only 3S would be an under-bid.   It could be passed as it would have been invitational.  Note, also, that your 4S re-bid is not a closeout.  It invites Responder to proceed further toward a possible slam contract if holding an appropriate hand of extra values.  He who knows goes!


2.     You open 1C and, after LHO “Passes,” Partner responds 1H.  RHO also “Passes!”  What is your correct re-bid now?   (Answer: 2S)  This would be interpreted by Partner as a jump-shift evidencing 19 or more HCP’s, an unbalanced hand of at least two biddable suits, and fewer than four Hearts.  Any re-bid by Responder, here, would not evidence any extra values since his/her re-bid is forced, as the Partnership is now in a game-forcing auction, 19 or more opposite 6 or more.


3.     Your right-hand Opponent opens 1D, which you “Double.”  LHO Passes and Partner responds 1S.  RHO also “Passes!”  What is your correct re-bid?  (Answer: 3S)  Partner, having bid at the cheapest possible level, shows 0-8 HCP’s.  He/she might have virtually nothing.  A “Pass,” here by you would have shown no extra values other than opening count or its equivalent, a re-bid by you of 2S would have shown 16-18 HCP’s, but a jump-raise to 3S, opposite Partner’s forced response, indicates a hand worth 19+ HCP’s and invites to game if Partner holds the top of his/her bid; namely, 6-8 HCP’s.


4.     Your right-hand Opponent opens 1H, which you “Double.”  LHO Passes and Partner responds 2D.  RHO also “Passes!”  When you re-bid 2-NT, Partner responds and re-bids 3D.   What would you bid now?  (Answer: Pass)   By virtue of your re-bid of 2-NT, you have already shown an interest in Game.  Partner must hold a dreadful hand such as: (XXX XX JXXXXX JX). Any second re-bid by Responder other than a re-bid of the same suit presented in his/her first response would show game interest.  You have already told Partner twice that you hold a very good hand by virtue of your original “double,” followed by a re-bid of 2-NT.  Three times would be once too many causing a possible disaster should you get “doubled.”  Don’t fight City Hall!





Bridge Tip # 396



     Partnerships must come to a consensus whether a 3H or a 3S response can be used when responding to Partner’s opening call of a strong (15-17 HCP) 1-NT, and if agreed-upon to be used, what meanings for such responses are then designated.  If such responses are agreed to be used by the Partnership, the question then arises as to whether such calls are natural or whether they are conventional, and if conventional, then what special significance are they meant to impart.  Two possible, different, conventional meanings for the use of such responses are commonly offered, and they are as follows:  


     1a.    A “3H” conventional response evidences a 5-5, or longer, in both Majors and a very weak hand (0-6 HCP’s).  Opener either “passes,” else “corrects” to a partial 3S final contract.


       North(Partner)     South(You)                                                                     

            1-NT            “3H” (Jxxxx Qxxxx xx x) (“Alertable”)

        Pass or 3S   


    1b.   A “3S” conventional response evidences a 5-5, or longer, in both Majors and a strong hand with game values (10+ HCP’s).  Opener then re-bids either 4H or 4S, to play.


       North(Partner)     South(You)                                                                     

            1-NT            “3S” (KQxxx AJxxx xx x) (“Alertable”)

          4H or 4S   



   Note:  Alternatively, without the use of (b) as shown above, the same result can be achieved by Responder using a “Jacoby Transfer” to Spades, and then re-bidding a game-level 4H re-bid.


            North(Partner)     South(You)                                                                     

            1-NT            “2H” (Transfer) (KQxxx AJxxx xx x)

             2S              4H (Natural)

         Pass or 4S




     2.   By Partnership understanding and agreement, an alternative, conventional system is available which allows for an uncovering of the fact that many Partnerships, today, sanction and prefer to open some 1-NT calls with a hidden 5-card Major, especially if holding a minimum 15 HCP opening count.  This alternative, conventional system, uncovers this eventuality, while maintaining Opener, the stronger hand, as Declarer; and, at the same time, still allowing for a final 3-NT contract should no 8-card Major “Golden Fit” be uncovered, if absent.  


            North(Partner)     South(You)                                                                     

            1-NT            “3H” (Axx x KQxx(x) Jxxx(x)) (“Alertable”)                                                 

         4S or 3-NT      (Holding a (3-1-4-5) or a (3-1-5-4) distribution)



            North(Partner)     South(You)                                                                     

            1-NT            “3S” (x Axx Jxxx(x) KQxx(x) (“Alertable”)

         4H or 3-NT      (Holding a (1-3-4-5) or a (1-3-5-4) distribution)





Bridge Tip # 395



     Some confusion exists as whether there is a maximum point count beyond which a “Double” by Responder is no longer “Negative,” becoming, alternatively, a “Penalty Double.”  Some Partnerships play that such doubles are “negative” through a level of 2S, some through 3S. Obviously, the higher the level at which a “negative” double is employed, the more HCP’s are needed by the Partner invoking the Negative Double.  For example, at the 1-level, “negative” doubles usually show at least 6 or more HCP’s, while, at the 2-level, they show a minimum of 9-10 HCP’s; etc.


     Having said this, however, some Partnerships have no upper level beyond which a Double by a Responder to Partner’s opening call becomes a “penalty double.”   Under these agreed-to circumstances, “negative” doubles are, therefore, exercised through infinity; i.e., they never show length and strength in the Opponent’s bid suit, rather they are all, effectively, “Take-Out Doubles;” as they exhibit no upper limit as to their HCP strength.   Again, this must be discussed and if used in this capacity, only by Partnership agreement.  





Bridge Tip # 394



       It is generally agreed that a “Negative Double” shows one of three types of hands:


                North          East          South                                                   

                   1A             1B         Double” (“Negative”)



a.     The two, as yet, un-bid suits     1D     1H     “Double”  

                                   (Axxx xxx xx KQxx)


b.    One un-bid suit and a backup or fall-back plan enabling the “Doubler” to support Partner’s suit if Opener is incapable of bidding Doubler’s intended suit.


                                                      1D     1H     “Double”  

                                   (Axxx xxx KQxx xx)


c.     One un-bid suit and a backup or fall-back plan enabling the “Doubler” to bid NT; i.e., holding at least one stopper in the Opponent’s bid suit if Opener is incapable of bidding Doubler’s intended suit.


                                                      1D     1H     “Double”  

                                   (Axxx KQxx xx xxx)








Bridge Tip # 393


 Standard defensive bids subsequent to the Opponent’s use of “Texas Transfers” are as follows:


           1.  A “Double” is Lead Directing.  A “Direct Double” of any artificial bid by an Opponent is always Lead-Directing!


                North          East          South          West                                                

                 1-NT          Pass           “4D”        Double” (Lead-Directing for Diamonds)



           2.  4-NT” is an “Unusual-NT” bid for the two Minor suits.


                North          East          South          West                                                

                 1-NT          Pass           “4D”         4-NT” (For Clubs and Diamonds)



           3.  4” of Responder’s suit is a “Michaels Cue-Bid” for the alternate Major and an unspecified Minor.


                North          East          South          West                                                

                 1-NT          Pass           “4D”           4H” (For Spades and an unspecified Minor, Clubs or Diamonds)



           4.  A “Delayed-Double” after Opener accepts the transfer is a 3-suited Take-Out.


                North          East          South          West                                                

                 1-NT          Pass           “4D”            Pass

                  4H            Pass            Pass          Double” (For Spades, Clubs, & Diamonds)






Bridge Tip # 392



     Texas Transfer” bids are used to invoke a game-level contract in either 4H or 4S following Partner’s opening call of either 1-NT or 2-NT.  Responder must hold sufficient game-level HCP’s and at least a 6-card or longer holding in the desired Major suit.


          (a)   North          East          South                                                  

                 1-NT          Pass           “4D”   (A “Texas Transfer” for Hearts)



        (b)   North          East          South                                                  

                 1-NT          Pass           “4H”   (A “Texas Transfer” for Spades)



     Unlike “Jacoby Transfer” bids (transfers made at the 2-level), which are not in effect following subsequent interference, (Example c),Texas Transfer” bids (transfers made at the 4-level), are still in effect, even subsequent to interference by would-be Responder’s RHO (Right-Hand Opponent) (Example d).


       (c)   North          East          South                                                  

               1-NT            2D             2H    (A natural Heart overcall – To Play)




        (d)   North          East          South                                                  

                 1-NT           2D           “4H”   (A “Texas Transfer” for Spades, not natural for Hearts)






Bridge Tip # 391


     Infrequently, but plausibly, the bidding proceeds, an opening strong, artificial and forcing “2C,” a subsequent response of “2D” by Opener’s responding Partner subject to their agreed-upon conventional understanding (“Waiting”), and then a jump to 3-NT by the Opener, who, by circumstance, might have a “game-in-hand” holding.  Note:  When using the “2D” (“Waiting”) response system, Responder has not yet shown any available additional HCP’s.


     The question then arises as to what, if any, conventions are still available to the responding Partner following such a bidding sequence.   Under a “2D” (“Waiting”) scenario, Responder might have sufficient HCP’s to further the bidding to a possible, feasible Slam.  Subject to Partnership understanding and agreement, accepted, follow-up, bidding sequences are available, as shown, herein:


a)    4C” becomes “Stayman,” (Regular or “Puppet” as per Partnership agreement) and

b)    5C” becomes “Super-Gerber” (Ace-Asking)


       Note:  When alternate conventional responses, other that “2D” (“Waiting”) are used by the Partnership, (“Controls,” or “Jacoby Steps,” for example), HCP count information is immediately disclosed to the Opener, who, under circumstances where Responder shows sufficient HCP’s or controls by virtue of his/her first response, Opener can himself/herself explore for a slam, encouraged by Responder’s disclosure, and having been enticed to do so.





Bridge Tip # 390


     The lead of trump against a suit contract is often a sound concept.   Its main objective is to reduce the ruffing power of the Dummy.  Notwithstanding the potential benefit to the defense of such a lead, there are five (5) trump holdings where it is possible that a trump lead can be counter-productive in that it potentially leads to a loss of a trump trick by the defense.  The five holdings where a trump lead is contra-indicated are: (1) JX, (2) QX, (3) JXX, (4) QXX, or (5) any singleton (X).


     Another factor does impact this subject, and that is simply that when the contract against which one is attempting to minimize or defeat is one in which the declaring team, by virtue of its bidding, has indicated that it holds nine or more trumps, then the impact of leading a trump is diminished and a better likelihood of success is for the lead to be an aggressive, attacking lead, rather than a passive one.   Success is not assured, but it statistically holds a higher percentage of likely success.   




Bridge Tip # 389


      Signaling is the language of defense.  Many techniques exist such as “Standard” carding, “Upside-Down” carding, “Odd-Even” carding, and Laventhal Discards,” among others.   The “Odd-EvenSystem offers a unique method of carding in that a preference for a specific suit can be signaled to Partner in a number of ways, and against a suit contract, is often a preferred methods:


     An “Odd” card played on one’s first discard signifies a preference for the suit being discarded.  An “Even” card played signifies a dislike for the suit being discarded with the following two qualifiers: