Main Page - Lessons - Previous - Next Intermediate Bridge LESSON 8Finding the 3-5 trump fit : Responder's options

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IBR 8.1 - 4th suit forcing bid by the Responder

You (S) are responder with the following hand.

♠ A 8     ♥ K 9 8 5 3     ♦ 7 4 3     ♣ A 8 4

The bidding so far has gone (all Opener's bids are underlined) : (N) 1♣ - you 1♥ - 1♠ - you ?

1. With 11-12 points you are too strong to rebid 2♥ (showing 6-10 points)
2. Neither should you jump rebid 3♥ as that shows a 6-card suit
3. Your best bet would normally be 2NT, but that is risky without a Diamond stopper.

The fourth suit forcing convention provides a solution to such type of problems.
With a strong response hand (11+ points) where a Game contract might be on, but no clear rebid is available, Responder bids the 4th (as yet unbid) suit.

Holding the above hand respond therefore : (N) 1♣ - 1♥ - 1♠ - you 2♦

After the 4th suit, Opener must reply. He also must bid again after Responder's next bid, if Responder bids below Game. The Responder however may pass after an initial weak reply by the Opener.

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IBR 8.2 - Responder holding a genuine 4th suit

The 4th suit forcing applies in all cases except in natural progressions like :   1♣ - 1♦ - 1♥ - 1♠
Here the 1♠ bid is natural, showing a 4+ card spades suit and 6+ points.

If you do wish to make a fourth suit forcing bid in such case, bid 2S instead :   1♣ - 1♦ - 1♥ - 2♠

In rare cases you may actually hold a 4-card or 5-card 4th suit.
With 4 cards in the 4th suit (or with 2 or 3 cards including a stopper), don't bid that suit but bid 2NT (with 11-12 points) or 3NT (with 13+ points).   For example :

♠ A 8     ♥ K 9 8 5 3     ♦ A 10 7 4     ♣ J 4

Partner opens the bidding : 1♣ - 1♥ - 1♠ - you 2NT

Note that Opener will bid 3♥ over your 2NT, if he has delayed 3-card support for your Hearts suit.

With a 5-5 or 6-5 suit holding, jump bid your second suit (so in fact jumping 1 level over the 4th suit forcing bid).   For example :

♠ A 8     ♥ K 9 8 5 3     ♦ A J 7 4 3     ♣ 4

Partner opens the bidding : 1♣ - 1♥ - 1♠ - you 3♦

Note that with 3-card support for either your Hearts or Diamonds Opener with raise that suit. If Opener does not do that he must have a good holding in Clubs and bid 3NT.

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IBR 8.3 - Replies by the Opener to 4th suit forcing

After Responder's 4th bid forcing bid Opener has the following reply options. In order of their priority :

1. Show delayed 3-card support for Responder's (likely) 5-card major suit.

2. Bid NT with at least one stopper in the 4th suit

3. Show delayed 3-card support for Responder's (likely) 5-card minor suit.

4. Raise the 4th suit.
a - If Opener could genuinely hold the 4th suit, his raise shows a 4 card holding in the 4th suit.
b - If Opener earlier denied holding the 4th suit, he is showing a strong hand (16+ points) but with no stopper in the 4th suit.

5. Failing any of the above, he rebids his own 5-card suit

Note that Opener's reply of NT (Option 2) takes priority over showing delayed support for Pesponder's minor suit (Option 3).

 Example 1 Opener (N) ♠ - K Q 7 2 ♥ - 6 4 ♦ - A 9 ♣ - K Q 9 6 3 Responder (S) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - K 9 8 5 3 ♦ - 7 4 3 ♣ - A 8 4 Comment After Opener's weak reply of 2NT, Responder is not strong enough to bid 3NT. Bidding : (N) 1C - 1H : 1S - 2D : 2NT - Pass

 Example 2 Opener (N) ♠ - K Q 7 2 ♥ - 6 4 ♦ - A J 10 ♣ - K Q 9 6 Responder (S) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - K 9 8 5 3 ♦ - 7 4 3 ♣ - A 8 4 Comment With 15½ points and the heart suit well stopped Opener has the strength to bid confidently to Game. Bidding : (N) 1C - 1H : 1S - 2D : 3NT - Pass

 Example 3 Opener (N) ♠ - K Q 7 2 ♥ - A 6 4 ♦ - 9 ♣ - K Q 9 6 3 Responder (S) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - K 9 8 5 3 ♦ - 7 4 3 ♣ - A 8 4 Comment With good 3-card trump support for Responder's Heart suit and the singleton Diamond, Opener bids straight to Game. Bidding : (N) 1C - 1H : 1S - 2D : 4H - Pass

 Example 4 Opener (N) ♠ - K Q 7 2 ♥ - J 6 4 ♦ - 9 ♣ - K Q J 9 6 3 Responder (S) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - A K 9 8 5 ♦ - 7 4 3 ♣ - A 8 4 Comment With 3-card trump support Opener can reply in Hearts but is too weak to bid Game. Responder however has the values to do that. Bidding : (N) 1C - 1H : 1S - 2D : 3H - 4H : Pass

 Example 5 Opener (N) ♠ - K Q J 2 ♥ - 6 4 ♦ - 10 9 ♣ - K Q J 9 3 Responder (S) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - K 9 8 5 3 ♦ - 7 4 3 ♣ - A 8 4 Comment With no 3-card trump support for Responder's Heart suit and no stopper in Diamonds Opener rebids his Club suit. Bidding : (N) 1C - 1H : 1S - 2D : 3C - Pass

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IBR 8.4 - Fourth suit forcing bid by the Opener

When Opener rebids the suit he opened with and Responder changes suit, Opener has also the opportunity to make a 4th suit forcing bid. There is no need to be strong, Opener can make such bid with a minimum Opening hand (12+ points).   He holds for example the hand shown below, and the bidding goes : 1♦ - 1♠ - 2♦ - 2♥ - ?

♠ K 5     ♥ Q 6     ♦ A K 10 9 4 3     ♣ 7 4 2

A 4th suit forcing bid is very useful here 1♦ - 1♠ - 2♦ - 2♥ - 3♣ !
If Responder replies NT, showing the Clubs stopped, 3NT is likely. If he replies with Diamonds Opener can always bid 3 Spades, as a 5-2 fit with his useful Spade King will probably be worth a try for Game.

Here another 4th suit opportunity for the Opener. This time it is the Responder who has bid the same suit twice. Opener holds the strong hand below, while the bidding goes : 1♦ - 1♥ : 3♣ - 3♥ - ?

♠ 9 5 2     ♥ K     ♦ A Q J 8 2     ♣ A K Q 4

By bidding : 1♦ - 1♥ - 3♣ - 3♥ - 3♠ Opener denies support for partner's Hearts and also denies a stopper in Spades.

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IBR 8.5 - Reply by the Responder

Responder's replies to a 4th suit forcing bid are similar to those of the Opener's replies.

1. Bid NT with a stopper in the 4th suit

2. Give delayed support for Opener's suit with 3-card support,
or support with 2-card support (!) if Opener has shown a 5-card major suit.
(With a strong hand jump bid Opener's suit, showing interest in Slam)

3. Rebid Responder's own suit if he holds neither of the above

 Example 6 Opener (N) ♠ - K 5 ♥ - Q 6 ♦ - A K 10 9 4 3 ♣ - 7 4 2 Responder (S) ♠ - Q J 10 7 2 ♥ - K 10 8 4 ♦ - 8 ♣ - A J 9 Comment With the Club stoppers South bids 3NT Bidding : (N) 1D - 1S : 2D - 2H : 3C - 3NT

 Example 7 Opener (N) ♠ - K 5 ♥ - Q 6 ♦ - A K 10 9 4 3 ♣ - 7 4 2 Responder (S) ♠ - Q J 10 7 2 ♥ - A K 10 4 ♦ - Q J 5 ♣ - Comment As a second bid S prefers to show his Hearts rather than his 3- card Diamond support, hoping a NT contract might be on. After N's 4th suit bid, South is sure a Diamond Slam is on. Bidding : (N) 1D - 1S : 2D - 2H : 3C - 6D

Lateral thinking !
With his 4th suit forcing bid, North denies a Club stopper, he also can hold only 7 points at the most in his Diamond suit (South holds the other 3 points). Therefore North must hold at least 5 or more in the majors. This convinces South that Small Slam is a good bet. Declarer would probably raise to 7 with a strong, rather than minimum hand.

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IBR 8.6 - Cue bidding the Enemy suit (later in the auction)

Cue bidding the Enemy suit later in the auction but before a trump suit agreement has been reached is and artificial bid and is usually forcing to Game. It is showing a strong hand but with no clear bid available.
For example :

♠ - A Q 10 5 4     ♥ - 8 4 2     ♦ - K 6     ♣ - A J 9

Partner opened the bidding which went :   1♦ - (1♥) - you 1♠ - (Pass) - 2♣ - you ? ?

Simply bid the Enemy suit :   1♦ - (1♥) - you 1♠ - (Pass) - 2♣ - you 2♥ !

Replies to the Enemy Cue bid are very similar to the replies to a 4th suit forcing bid :

1. Give delayed support for Partner's major suit

2. Bid NT with at least one good stopper in the Enemy suit

3. Give delayed support for Partner's minor suit

4. Rebid own 5-card suit, or do the best you can if unable to do any of the above

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IBR 8.7 - Deal 57 - 68

Deals 57 - 68 are examples of bidding as outlined in this lesson.

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