Rebidding After a Forcing Notrump

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

1 Pass1 NTPass

Use of the forcing one-notrump response in conjunction with five-card-major openings, both adopted by the 1984 version of Bridge World Standard, simplifies some of opener's rebidding problems while creating new ones. One important point, verified by the expert polls, is that opener should never pass just because it is inconvenient to bid. Thus, responder can use the one-notrump response with some game-going hands that otherwise afford only misdescriptive immediate responses. When opener does hold an awkward hand, he should usually choose from among dismal alternatives by using this principle: When you are in trouble, lower is better.

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

(a) A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K J 10   8 6 2

(b) A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K Q 10   K 10 4

(c) A 6 4 2   A Q 9 5 3   Q 10 6   4

(d) A 6 4 2   A Q 9 5 3   10 6   K 4

(e) Q 6 4 2   A 9 5 3 2   A K   K Q

(f) A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K 10   A J 8 6


A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K J 10   8 6 2

(a) Two clubs. Your choices are severely limited. You can't take the natural action (which is to pass), and you are too weak to raise to two notrump, which is invitational. Your hearts are not good enough to rebid (you should have at least a six-card suit, or, in a pinch, a five-card suit that looks like six). So, the choice is between the minors. With three-three minors, it is widely considered automatic to rebid two clubs, even with a serious strength disparity between the suits, in order to preserve bidding room.

A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K Q 10   K 10 4

(b) Two notrump. Here you are strong enough to make the natural, invitational bid of two notrump, following the modern style under which this shows a hand too strong for a one-notrump opening. In current methods, balanced hands in the strong-notrump point range (in BWS, a good 15 to a poor 18) are opened with one notrump even if there is a five-card major and/or a weak doubleton.

A 6 4 2   A Q 9 5 3   Q 10 6   4

(c) Two diamonds. You are far too weak for two spades, which shows full reversing values, and the hearts are too short for two hearts. What else is left? Two diamonds is also bid on a three-card suit in this sequence when opener has 3=5=3=2 distribution, with a hand too weak to raise to two notrump.

A 6 4 2   A Q 9 5 3   10 6   K 4

(d) Two clubs. All choices are inadequate, indeed dangerous, here. This hand type represents one of the glaring flaws in the current method of handling the forcing one-notrump response. Some partnerships avoid this by using Flannery: they open this hand (and also hand (c)) with two diamonds, showing a minimum-range opening with four spades and five hearts. The Bridge World Standard polls showed that the most popular method of coping is to open this hand-type with one heart (that is, not to use Flannery), and to rebid two clubs, even when the clubs are weaker still.

Q 6 4 2   A 9 5 3 2   A K   K Q

(e) Two notrump. This hand is actually fractionally short of the strength requirement to bid two notrump (since the spots are depressingly low, and there are unaccompanied honors). However, that's only a fraction of a flaw, especially when compared to the near-nauseating prospect of rebidding two clubs. There is probably no future in bidding two spades. You are not interested in spades when partner lacks four, nor in encouraging a heart preference. And you have nothing other than notrump in reserve for the next round anyway.

A 6   A Q 9 5 3   K 10   A J 8 6

(f) Two notrump. There are two possible bidding styles with this strength and shape: two notrump directly; and two clubs first, keeping two notrump in reserve. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, mostly small ones. At matchpoints, we prefer to minimize the risk of landing in a low-scoring contract when the partnership has powerful values. We'd hope to play it well and be lucky, rather than hope to be unlucky.

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


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