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Intermediate Bridge
LESSON 7
Finding the 3-5 trump fit : Opener's options

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IBR 7.1 - The 3-5 trump fit

The 5-card majors system was designed to quickly reveal a 4-4 trump fit or a 5-3 trump fit, where the 5-card suit is held by the Opener.

But when it is the Responder who holds the 5-card suit the situation is often not immediately clear.
(Opener's bids are underlined)

1. After Opener's 1♠ a 2♥ reply by Responder clearly shows a 5-card Hearts suit

2. Likewise in the sequence 1♣ - 1♠ - 1NT - 2♦   Responder shows 5 Spades, because he did not bid his Spades suit "up the line", but skipped the Diamonds suit with his first bid.

3. And after an Overcall by an Opponent of (1♥) a 1♠ bid by Responder (assuming he plays the "Negative Double") also reveals a 5-card major suit, as with only a 4-card suit he would have doubled instead.

4. With a weak hand of 6-10 points Responder has only few options and often his only choice is to rebid his 5-card suit.
(With 11+ pts hands Responder should not rebid his 5-card suit, but jump rebid his 6-card suit.)
But what about the following sequence :   1♦ - 1♥ - 2♦ - 2♠

It looks very similar to case "b" above, but it is not. Here Responder did bid his two suits "up the line".   It is therefore not clear whether Responder holds 5 Hearts or only 4.
To solve this riddle you must understand and follow the principle of delayed support.

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IBR 7.2 - The Principle of Delayed Support

Say you hold the following hand :

♠ - A 10     ♥ - K 9 2     ♦ - A Q J 7 6 3     ♣ - 7 3

You opened the bidding which went like this :   1♦ - 1♥ - 2♦ - 2♠ -   what now ?

The answer is simple : by bidding 2♦ after Responder's 1♥ bid, you denied having 4-card support in his Hearts suit. Therefore when you support him on the second time around he will know that you hold not 4 but only 3 cards in his suit.   This is the fundamental principle of delayed support.

Therefore with above hand you bid :   1♦ - 1♥ - 2♦ - 2♠ - 3♥ ! !

Of course you still don't really know whether Partner actually holds 5 Hearts or 4.
But that does not matter, because your Partner will now know the exact card holding of the Hearts suit in the combined hands and act accordingly.

1. If Responder indeed holds 5 hearts himself, he will realise you have a trump fit and raise Hearts to the 3 or 4 level (depending on his strength).

2. If on the other hand Rersponder holds only 4 hearts himself, he will know that there is no trump fit in hearts and bid something else, most likely 2NT or 3NT.

Here follow two typical examples :

 Case A Opener (W) ♠ - K 8 4 ♥ - A Q 10 8 5 ♦ - A 8 ♣ - J 7 4 Responder (E) ♠ - A Q 9 7 2 ♥ - 9 4 ♦ - K 6 3 ♣ - Q 9 8 5 Comment After East's raise to 2NT, West must give delayed support in Spades. East holding indeed a 5-card Spade suite raises to 4 Spades. Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 1♠ - 1NT - 2NT - 3♠ - 4♠

 Case B Opener (W) ♠ - K 8 4 ♥ - A Q 10 8 5 ♦ - A 8 ♣ - J 7 4 Responder (E) ♠ - A Q 9 7 ♥ - 9 4 ♦ - K J 6 3 ♣ - Q 9 8 5 Comment After East's raise to 2NT, West must give delayed support in Spades. East holding in this case only 4 spades bids 3NT. Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 1♠ - 1NT - 2NT - 3♠ - 3NT

Delayed support for Responder's possible 5-card suit promises 3-card support.

Likewise delayed support for Responder's known 5-card suit promises 2-card support.
For exaple :

 Case C Opener (W) ♠ - A Q 10 8 5 3 ♥ - K 8 ♦ - A 8 ♣ - J 7 4 Responder (E) ♠ - 7 ♥ - A Q J 9 4 ♦ - K J 6 3 ♣ - Q 9 5 Comment After East's bid of 3♦, West gives delayed 2-card support in Hearts. East holding in this case only 5 hearts bids 3NT. Bidding : (W) 1♠ - 2♥ - 2♠ - 3♦ - 3♥ - 3NT

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IBR 7.3 - Responder's perspective

When Responder holds a weak response hand of 6-10 points his rebid choices are limited. With no other options he will rebid his 5-card suit, solving Opener's dilemma.

With all 11+ points hands Responders should at all cost avoid rebidding his 5-card suit. It is not necessary, as it is Opener's responsibility to give delayed support when he holds 3-card support. But Responder may jump rebid his 6-card suit.

In all other cases where Responder holds a 5-card major, he should find a second bid in another suit or bid 2NT, to give Opener the opportunity to show delayed support.

 Example 1 Responder ♠ - 9 ♥ - A Q 8 5 3 ♦ - 10 9 4 ♣ - K Q 9 6 Bidding : (N) 1♦ - 1♥ - 2♦ - 3♣ - ? Comment : If Opener shows delayed support for your Hearts, raise to 4♥.   If not, Opener will be aware of your unbalanced hand shape and bid 3NT only if he has the Spades covered.

 Example 2 Responder ♠ - K Q 10 9 4 ♥ - 8 3 ♦ - J 10 4 ♣ - K Q 9 Bidding : (N) 1♦ - 1♠ - 1NT - 2♣ - ? Comment : Opener is unlikely to raise your Clubs, so bidding it as a "false suit" (containing only 3 cards) and showing your stoppers is a good option. It provides Opener with an opportunity to show delayed support. Raise Opener's 2♠ to 3, or his 2NT to 3NT. See Lesson 10 for the Crowhurst 2♣ convention after Opener's 1NT rebid. This is a most useful convention.

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IBR 7.4 - Bidding a "false" suit

Bidding a false suit is the bid of a new suit with only 3 cards in that suit. You make such a bid

1. to show a stopper for a possible No Trump contract

2. to give Partner a bidding opportunity to show delayed support (for your 5-card suit)

3. or you hold 10-12 points and can not raise Partner's suit (for which you have trump support) immediately as a first bid.

Always select a false suit which Partner is unlikely to raise, such as a new minor suit (as in Example 2 of the previous chapter).
You can also select a suit of which Partner previously has denied having 4 cards in. Such as in Example 3 below.

 Example 3 Responder ♠ - K Q 9 ♥ - A K 10 9 4 ♦ - 7 4 ♣ - 9 8 4 Bidding : (N) 1♦ - 1♥ - 1NT - 2♠ - ? Comment : Opener can not raise your Spades bid. For by responding with 1NT after your Heart bid he has denied holding 4 spades. You can therefore safely bid your "false" Spade suit, showing you hold a stopper there.   Raise Opener's 3♥ to 4, or his 2NT to 3NT.

Note : You did not show a 5-card Hearts suit in above example, because you could have been bidding your 4-card suits naturally "up the line" !
Also your Spade bid alerts Partner to the fact that you don't hold a Club stopper (if you had both Clubs and Spades stopped you would have rebid 2NT instead of 2♠), in case he is looking for 3NT.

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IBR 7.5 - Opener's "Support Double"   (and Support Redouble)

The so-called Support Double is another way for the Opener to show 3-card support for Responder's major suit.

 After an Overcall by an Opponent over Responder's bid of 1♥ or 1♠, a Double by Opener shows 3-card trump support exactly! All suit raises show 4-card support. After a Take-out Double by an Opponent over Responder's bid of 1♥ or 1♠, a Redouble by Opener also shows 3-card trump support exactly!   A Pass denies 3-card support. The Support Double only applies when the Doubler (or Redoubler) can make a 2-level single raise instead.

The Opener can make a Support Double after Responder's major suit has been overcalled :

N E S W N Meaning
a. 1♦ - 1♠ (2♣) DBL = exactly 3-card support, any Opening strength!
b. 1♦ - 1♠ (DBL) RDBL = exactly 3-card support, any Opening strength!
c. 1♦ - 1♠ (DBL) 2♦ = no 3-card support, 5+ Diamonds, 13-15 points
d. 1♦ - 1♠ (2♣) 2♠ = 4-card support, 13-15 points
e. 1♦ - 1♠ (2♣) 3♠ = 4-card support, 16-18 points
f. 1♥ - 1♠ (2♣) 2♦ = no support, 13+ points
g. 1♦ 1♥ (1♠) 1NT = no support, stopper, 13-15 points

The Support Double in above scenario therefore replaces the delayed support bid, the Opener otherwise would have made on his next turn to bid. So Opponent's Overcall provides the opportunity for the Opener to show his 3-card support straight away.

The Responder may of course have bid only a 4-card suit anyway, but in that case Responder will either Pass Opponent's next bid, or bid another suit or NT (with an Enemy suit stopper).

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IBR 7.6 - Deals 45 - 56

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