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Contract Bridge
Some General Principles

  1. New Suit Bids by the Responder (7)
  2. Replies by the Opener (7)
  3. Some General Principles
  4. The Limit Bid Concept
  5. Bidding two-suited Hands
  6. Deals 13 to 16
  7. Quiz - Answers
    Review 7 - Review 7a

    Bidding Guide : 4 - 5 - 10 - Facts 6

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BR 7.3 - Some General Principles

To the Absolute Beginner
The following part of this lesson deals with some general principles that underly good standard bidding. As a beginner you may perhaps find some of this confusing and too difficult to grap at first.

Do not worry! All beginners feel this way. It is only after you play for a while and become more familiar with the game that the finer points of the bidding proces start to fall into place and make sense.

The best way to make progress is to play as much as you can, and in any free moments deal yourself hands and practise bidding. You can do this with a Partner or on your own.

  1. The Skip-over Principle
  2. Major suit Trump fits
  3. Balanced hand Openings
  4. Responses with 11-12 pts
  5. Responder's 10 pts Barrier
  6. Opener's 15 pts Barrier

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I. The Skip-over Principle
The practice of bidding 4 card suits up the line means that when either player skips over a suit, he denies having 4 cards in that suit.
For example (all bids by the Opener are shown in bold) :

  • 1♣ - 1♥   -------------   Responder has no 4 card Diamond suit*
  • 1♣ - 1♠   --------------   Responder has no 4 card Diamond suit and no 4 card Heart suit
  • 1♦ - 1NT   -----------   Responder has no 4 card major suit
  • 1♣ - 1♦ - 1♠   -------   Opener has no 4 card Heart suit
  • 1♦ - 1♥ - 1NT   -----   Opener has no 4 card major suit (he would bid 2♥ with 4 Hearts)

    (* = some responders skip their 4 card Diamond suit when they hold a 4 card major suit)

But be aware : With a 5+ card suit as well as a 4 card suit you must bid your longest suit first. With 5 Spades and 4 Hearts for example you must bid Spades first. Be aware that Partner will in this case assume that you have no 4 card Heart suit. Bid therefore Hearts at your next turn. He will then recognise your 5-4 card distribution, as with 4-4 in the majors you would have bid them up the line.

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II. Major suit Trump fits
Most (8 card) trump fits either consist of each player having 4 cards in the trump suit (a 4-4 split), or of one player having 5 while the other has 3 cards in the trump suit (a 5-3 split).
In a Bidding system using 5 card major Opening bids (as in this course) life is made very easy for the Responder.

  • When Opener opens with 1♥ or with 1♠ - Responder knows there is a trump fit when he holds only 3 cards in that suit (for a 5-3 fit).

  • When Opener opens with a minor suit and bids 1♥ or 1♠ at his next turn - Responder knows he must have 4 cards in the major suit for a 4-4 trump fit.

For the Opener the choice is not that clear. Any new suit bid by the Responder promises only 4 cards in that suit.
Opener can therefore only raise Responder's suit with 4 card support. With only 3 cards in that suit he should wait until Responder rebids his suit (showing now at least one card more in the suit), or raise Responder's suit at his next turn (showing 3 card support and hoping Responder has a 5 card suit anyway).

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III. Balanced hand Openings
Here is the full range of Opening bids with a balanced hand.

  • 13-15 pts = Open 1 in a suit (usually a minor) and bid 1NT at your next turn.

  • 16-18 pts = Open 1NT

  • 19-20 pts = Open 1 in a suit (usually a minor) and bid 3NT at your next turn.

  • 21-22 pts = Open 2NT

  • 23+ pts = Open 2♣ (see Lesson 16)

With 13-15 or 19-20 pts you still can explore the possibility of a major suit trump fit by bidding your 4 card suits (if you have any) up the line before bidding NT.
For example : if Responder bids a major suit in which you have 4 card support : single raise that major with 13-15 pts, and raise to Game with 19-20 pts (rather than bidding NT).

In Example 13 you have a balanced hand with 20 points and open the bidding with 1♦.


  1. If your Partner responds with 1♠ or 2♣, or raises your opening bid to 2♦ ---- you reply : 3NT.

  2. If your Partner responds with 1♥ ---- you reply : 4♥.

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IV. Responses with 11-12 points
With 11-12 pts you can not immediately respond with a raise of Partner's suit when you have trump support (or with a NT bid when you are balanced).
In these cases always bid a new suit first and raise Opener's suit on your next turn to bid.

In rare instances you may not have a 4 card suit to bid. In such case bid a 3 card minor suit at the 2 level. (Partner will be unlikely to raise that suit unless he has 5 card support.)

For example with :     A 10 4 2     9 5 4     A 9 8   K 6 3

  • after an Opening of 1♠ : respond with 2♣,

  • plan to raise Opener's Spades when it is your next turn to bid.
(See also Bidding by a Passed hand)

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V. Responder's 10 points Barrier
There are point barriers for the bidding of both Opener and Responder in order to keep the final contract for weak hand combinations at a low and realistic level.
As a Responder you can not bid a new suit at the 2 level with 10 or less points. You may raise Opener's suit at the 2 level which shows 6-10 pts, but otherwise the highest you may bid (after a 1 in a suit opening) is 1NT.

For example with :     9 2     9 5 4 2       A 9 8 2     K 9 6

  • After an Opening bid of 1♥ : raise to 2♥

  • After an Opening bid of 1♠ : bid 1NT
Example 14 is an extreme case where you hold an unbalanced hand with 8½ points.

  1. If your Partner opens with : 1♣ or 1♦ ---- you reply : 1♥.

  2. If your Partner opens with 1♥ ---- you reply : 4♥ (see Bidding Guide p.4).

  3. If your Partner opens with : 1♠ ---- you reply : 1NT
    (With only 8 pts you can not bid the Diamonds or Hearts at the 2 level. You must reply 1NT, even with this unbalanced hand.)

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VI. Opener's 15 points Barrier
There is also a barrier for weak Opening hands.
With 15 points or less Opener (at his second turn to bid) should not bid a new suit at the 2 level which is higher ranking than his opening suit bid.

Such bid is called a reverse bid. It promises at least 16 pts with 5 cards in the first suit bid and 4 cards in the second (a 6-5 distribution is also possible).
For example :

  • 1♣ - 1♥ - 2♦ = Reverse bid
    Promising 16+ pts, with 5 Clubs and 4 Diamonds

  • 1♥ - 2♦ - 2♠ = Reverse bid
    Promising 16+ pts, with 5 Hearts and 4 Spades

  • 1♥ - 2♣ - 2♦ = Not a reverse bid
    Showing 13+ pts. Diamonds ranks lower than Hearts.

Exception : If the bidding is gone beyond the Opener's barrier before it is his turn to bid again.
This can happen when

  1. Responder makes a Jumpshift : 1♣ - 2♦ - 2♥ = Not a reverse bid

  2. Opponents interfere in the bidding : 1♣ - 1♠ - (Opponent : 2♦) - 2♥ = Not a reverse bid

For example with :     9     A Q 4 2   A K 9 8 2     K 9 6

After Opening 1♦ and a Response of 1♠ you make a reverse bid of 2♥

But with :     9     A Q 4 2       A 10 9 8 2     - K 9 6

After Opening 1♦ and a Response of 1♠ you are too weak for a reverse
and should therefore rebid your 5 card Diamond suit : 2♦

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BR 7.4 - The Limit Bid Concept

Bids of a new suit (by Opener as well as Responder) are open bids. They have a wide points range and/or a high upper points limit. In either case the possibility of a Game contract can usually not be ruled out.

Bids of a new suit are therefore always forcing for 1 round (but see Bidding by a Passed Hand), and the bidding must continue until a limit bid is reached.

  1. Most bidding sequences commence with one or more open bids (usually bids of new suits)

  2. until a limit bid is made. This is the defining point of the auction.

  3. After the limit bid
    • either a final bid is reached quickly,
    • or the limit bid is followed by one or more fine tuning bids (invitation bids, convention bids, give preference bids, etc.) before the final contract bid is made.

It is most important to recognise the limit bid in the bidding sequence, as (barring opposition bidding) the bidding must continue at least until a limit bid has been made.

There are three types of limit bids.

  1. the first NT bid in the bidding sequence (unless it is preceded by an earlier limit bid), or

  2. the second time a suit is bid, either as a rebid or as a raise.
    Exception : the jump raise by Responder of 1 in a suit to 3 in the same suit (1♠ - 3♠), which is an open bid promising 13+ pts.

  3. All Responses by a Passed hand
    A player who passes at his turn to open the bidding shows he has 12 points or less. After his Partner opens the bidding, all his responses have an upper limit of 12 points (at the most) and are therefore limit bids. Even his response of a new suit (which in all other cases is forcing for 1 round).

Here are some typical bidding sequence examples.
All bids by the Opener are shown in blue lined boxes.


The fine tuning bids are :

  • Example 1 : 2NT = Invitation bid. Opener bids Pass with 16 pts or 3NT with 17-18 pts.

  • Example 2 : 3♥ = Forcing to Game. Opener bids 4♥ with three Hearts or 3NT with a Heart doubleton (see Lesson 8).

  • Example 3 : 3♠ = Invitation bid. Responder bids Pass with 6-7 pts or 4♠ with 8-10 pts.

  • Example 5 : 4NT = Blackwood Convention. Opener's 5♠ reply shows 3 Aces.

  • Example 7 : 3♥ = Invitation bid. Responder bids Pass with 6-7 pts or 4♥ with 8-10 pts.

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BR 7.5 - Bidding two-suited Hands

When you hold a hand with two biddable suits, bid them in the following way.

  1. 4-4 : two (or three) 4 card suits
    Bid your suits up the line, cheapest one first.

  2. 5-4 two suiter
    Bid your 5 card suit first. If possible bid your 4 card suit second time around, but don't do a reverse bid with a weak hand.

  3. 5-5 two suiter
    Bid the higher ranking suit first, the lower ranking one second, and the lower ranking one again if required.

  4. 6-5 two suiter
    Bid your longest suit first, the shorter one second, and the shorter one again if required.
    If the 6 card suit is the lower ranking one, your bidding will clearly show a 6-5 distribution.
    If your 6 card suit is the higher ranking one it shows 5-5 or a possible 6-5.

  5. 6-4 two suiter
    Bid your 6 card suit first, your 4 card suit second, and then your 6 card suit again if required. This clearly shows a 6-4 distribution.

  6. 6-6 two suiter
    Bid your higher ranking suit first, your lower ranking one second, and again and then once more if required.

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BR 7.6 - Deals 13 to 16

Deals 13 to 16 cover bidding and play dealt with in this lesson.

BR 7.7 - Quiz 7 - Answers - Review 7 - Review 7a

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Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.