Stronger Responses to a Major Opening

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 Pass

For responding to partner's major-suit opening when holding a decent hand, Bridge World Standard provides a variety of tools. With a fit for the major and invitational strength, the choice is between the direct limit raise (four trumps) and the indirect raise through the forcing one-notrump response. With a fit in a hand strong enough to drive to game, responder can give a strong raise denying shortness (by bidding two notrump), can show shortness (by using a double-jump-shift, a splinter bid), can show a side suit before raising, or can start with a forcing notrump and bid game next.

If responder has a good hand but lacks a fit, he usually starts with a new-suit response. A two-over-one response is forcing to game except when responder rebids his suit.

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

(a) 8 5 4 2 5 A Q J 6 Q 9 4 2

(b) Q 9 4 2 5 A Q J 6 8 5 4 2

(c) Q 9 4 2 5 A Q 8 6 A 8 5 4

(d) Q 9 4 2 J 5 A Q 8 6 A 8 5

(e) Q 9 4 2 J 5 K J 8 4 K Q J

(f) Q 9 4 5 A Q 8 6 4 K J 9 6


8 5 4 2 5 A Q J 6 Q 9 4 2
(a) Three spades. Most evaluation methods (point count, losing-trick count, playing tricks, whatever) will put the strength of this hand near the borderline between a limit raise and a game force. Since the trumps are weak, we recommend the conservative course.

Q 9 4 2 5 A Q J 6 8 5 4 2
(b) Two diamonds. With all the high cards apparently working, a more aggressive view is justified. What to bid, however, is less clear. Some players allow a splinter with a minimum game force, but most experts would expect more slammish values for four hearts.

Some partnerships allow one notrump on this shape, but two diamonds is more natural, and better fits the BWS framework.

Q 9 4 2 5 A Q 8 6 A 8 5 4
(c) Four hearts. This is the typical strength for a splinter bid: responder has a game raise in high cards plus his shortness. Some methods allow for two ranges of splinters, so that shape can be shown both with (b) and (c). This is not available in BWS, so it is important to fix the range (or at least the minimum strength) of the splinter raise.

Q 9 4 2 J 5 A Q 8 6 A 8 5
(d) Two notrump. This hand is worth a game force; two notrump is acceptable even on a minimum so long as the values are slamworthy. Here, the values are in trumps and honor tricks, cards that will not disappoint partner if he moves toward the upper levels.

Q 9 4 2 J 5 K J 8 4 K Q J
(e) One notrump. This is a borderline game force, but merely inviting is too deep a position. All the point-counters (most of most fields) will be in game, and you don't want to swing the whole board on what is at best a tiny advantage.
However, with all this slush you can't bid two notrump, lest partner go slamming. To bid one notrump, then four spades next, suggests a hand with point-count for game but lacking controls for slam.

Q 9 4 5 A Q 8 6 4 K J 9 6
(f) Two diamonds. No direct raise is acceptable, because of your three-card support. So, you show your diamonds, then raise spades. If partner rebids two spades, you have the option of jumping to four hearts to show your singleton. This sequence suggests only three-card spade support (since you chose not to splinter immediately), and gives a reasonable picture of your entire hand.

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


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