Many of my readers, like myself, are still stuck in the depths of “Intermediatesville” trying to get better as we learn from our mistakes. Some wag once wrote that in order for something to become a habit, you have to do it 19 times. It is hard to find anything in bridge that you can do correctly 19 times other than pass, and even pass has its own problems. So it doesn’t hurt for us to reinforce basics one in a while. Here is a thought about responding to 1NT forcing bids.
Most duplicate players today play the 1NT response to one of a major as forcing for one round unless by an unpassed hand. That means that opener has to come up with one more bid. On a good day you will be delighted to come up with another bid reflecting your 6 card suit or extra values, on a bad day you will have some less appealing choices to make. How about a little quick review? Music maestro!!
1. If you rebid your major suit, it shows a suit that is 6 cards in length and no significant extras. A jump in the major suit shows 6 good cards in the bid major and 16+, but is non-forcing.
2. If the hand is 5433 you rebid your lower ranking 3 card minor.
3. If you opened 1 heart, a 2 spade rebid is still a reverse and shows 16+ hcps. Why is it a reverse? Because partner must now go to the 3 level to take a preference for your original suit. Don’t confuse this with 2/1 sequences where most players do not play reverses as showing extra values, just hand shape.
4. If you make a jump shift, it promises a hand of about 19 hcps or shape with equivalent playing strength. Definitely forcing!
5. A raise to 2NT shows a balanced hand of about18-19 hcps and almost forcing; pass it at your peril. Have a back up partner. If your partner is your spouse, it is forcing!
Those were supposed to be easy choices, but reading this blog post counts as one of the 19 repetitions. With the basics behind you, take shot at these: You open 1 heart, your partner responds 1NT: “Your bid Syd!” Remember that Max Hardy is looking over your shoulder from that big bridge table in the sky.
(i) KJxx, AQxxx, Jx, Qx
(ii) K4, AQJT9x, 5, QJ43
(iii) K4, QJ7643, 5, AQJ3
(iv) K4, AKQJ63, Q7, J95
On hand (i) you have 4 spades but to bid them would be a reverse – not with 13 hcps! In 2/1 game force, it is not systemically correct to rebid your 5 card heart suit, so you “suck it up” and bid 2 clubs. The rule says you bid your best 2 card minor and hope for the best. Somehow this often works out.
On hand (ii) you have a 6 card heart suit which is rebiddable, but also a 4 card club suit you could show Note that hand (iii) has the same feature. How do you decide whether to show the club suit or just rebid your hearts? There is another rule for this. Here is the standard: Opener will only show the 4 card suit when the 6 card suit is not solid enough to play against a singleton. Opener bids 2 hearts with hand (ii) and 2 clubs with hand (iii). If you are responder and have a singleton in openers major (which happens with alarming frequency), it is important to understand the implication of opener rebidding a second suit. Opener is telling you that he does not have a 6 card major, or if he does it is not good enough to play against a single in your hand. If you have a single in opener’s major, you have 12 cards in the other suits. Remember opener’s bid of a new suit at the 2 level does not show extra values nor is it forcing, so you can pass, and with 4144 that may be the best thing to do. These situations come under the “catch all” that “sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.”
Hand (iv) is even more twisted. I would guess many readers would bid 3 hearts over 1NT forcing. You are not going to like that matchpoint choice if the hand makes 10 tricks in both NT and spades. Opener should bid 3NT showing 16-18 hcps, solid hearts, and no single or void. This asks responder to pass if his hand is balanced and otherwise correct to 4 hearts.
The wind up is what to do when responder has a good heart hand and the auction goes 1s/1NT/2c. Below are 4 rebid hands for responder, what is your rebid?
(i) 7 KQJ876 54 42
(ii) 76 KQT975 AJ5 43
(iii) 87 KQ98 AQ87 432
(iv) T6 KQJ87 543 765
With hand (i), bid 2 hearts to play. It tells partner to please pass. With hand (ii) you have 6 hearts and 10 hcps. It is too good for 2 hearts, so invite with 3 hearts. With hand (iii) bid 2NT since you have stoppers in the unbid suits and 10-12. How about hand (iv)? Good hearts but a single in partner’s bid suit and only 6 hcps. Partner’s 1 spade opening did not guarantee anything about his hearts and the rebid of 2 clubs may well be 4 clubs which tends to reduce the chance of holding hearts. This is a judgment hand and only the quality of the hearts makes them a consideration. Still, my experience in matchpoints tells me to ignore the hearts and take a false preference to 2 spades where you are guaranteed a 7 card trump suit. After all, responder has a 6 hcp, 9 LTC minimum hand. Disaster could be impending.
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