Weaker Responses to a Major Opening

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 Pass

In Bridge World Standard, most weak or invitational responses to major-suit openings are conditioned by the forcing one-notrump response. Except when you can rebid your own suit, a two-over-one response promises game-going values. With an invitational raise, you cannot temporize with two of a new suit; you must give a direct limit raise (four trumps), or an indirect raise (via one notrump). One notrump is also the appropriate response with a hand worth an invitational two-notrump bid, since the direct two notrump is a forcing raise. One notrump and one of a new suit are the normal responses with under invitational strength in a hand unsuitable for a raise.

As South, what call do you make with each of the following:

(a) 8 4 2    J 6 5    K 8 4    9 7 3 2

(b) 8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8 4    J 7 3 2

(c) 8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8 4    K 7 3 2

(d) K 8 4    Q 0 6    K 8 4    K 7 3 2

(e) K 8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8    Q 10 7 3

(f) K 8 4    Q 10 8 6 4    A 8    Q 4 2


8 4 2    J 6 5    K 8 4    9 7 3 2
   (a) Pass. Since you have a moderate spade fit, there is not much danger of suffering a significant penalty if you respond. However, there is a grave danger that partner, with a good hand, will drive the partnership too high. You know one spade is a sound contract; it does not pay to keep alive such slim game chances.

8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8 4    J 7 3 2
   (b) One notrump. Although you are sure of an eight-card spade fit, you should make believe you have only a doubleton spade. With your scattered lower-honor strength, some of your values must be wasted for spades. Furthermore, your trumps are so weak they are nearly falling over. You must keep the bidding open, but a single raise would be too encouraging.

8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8 4    K 7 3 2
   (c) Two spades. Here, even if one of your honors faces a singleton you will have some useful strength. So, this hand is a shade too good for the sequence one spade--one notrump--two of a minor--two spades (which might be based on a six-count and a small doubleton spade). Of course, with such weak spades you have a minimum single raise.

K 8 4    Q 10 6    K 8 4    K 7 3 2
   (d) One notrump. This hand could be deemed just weak enough for a maximum raise to two spades, or just strong enough for one notrump followed by three spades (or perhaps followed by two notrump--depending on your mood--if partner rebids specifically two diamonds). We have no objection to putting the hand in one range or the other, but we recommend the sequence that is more likely to head for notrump--look at those middle honors and supporting ten-spots! It is easier to end up in three notrump, not four spades, when the first response is one notrump.

K 8 4 2    Q 10 6    K 8    Q 10 7 3
   (e) Three spades. Yes, there are notrump cards, but this hand is not notrumpish enough for you to pretend that your spade support is only three-long. We might feel different with 4-3-3-3 distribution, or with a second honor in the doubleton. As it is, a routine limit raise is indicated.

K 8 4    Q 10 8 6 4    A 8    Q 4 2
   (f) One notrump. If you respond two hearts, you will be unable to offer an invitational spade raise on the next round; three spades by you will be forcing, regardless of partner's rebid. Therefore, you must settle for one notrump, planning to rebid three spades. You will still find five-four heart fits, but you will sometimes play in the "wrong" five-three fit.

(Adapted from "Rate Your Own Game" in The Bridge World.)


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