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Bidding Conventions
LESSON 36
The Bergen Raises

 The Bergen Raises Jacoby 2NT with 4+card trump support Jacoby 2NT with 3+card trump support Bidding after Enemy interference Deals 197 - 204 Bidding Guide : supBG-4 - supBG-4a

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BR 36.1 - The Bergen Raises

In recent years competitive bridge players have become increasingly aware of the superior trick taking potential with a 5-4 (9 card) super trump fit compared to the standard 5-3 (8 card) trump fit.
Although this advantage exists at all combined strength levels, it is especially significant when both sides hold in the vicinity of 20 points and compete for a Part score contract.

In such situation the Law of Total Tricks holds sway, which predicts that

1. when a side holds an 8-card trump fit they are likely to make 8 tricks in their designated trump contract

2. when a side holds a 9-card trump fit they are likely to make 9 tricks in their designated trump suit

The Bergen Raises (created by the American bridge player Matty Bergen) are specifically designed to distinguish between a 5-3 and a 5-4 trump fit after Partner opened 1♥ or 1♠ (showing a 5+card major suit).
The Bergen Raises are :

1. 1♥ - 3♥ (or 1♠ - 3♠) = 4+ trump support and 2-6 HCP

2. 1♥ or 1♠ - 3♣ = 4+ trump support and 7-9 HCP

3. 1♥ or 1♠ - 3♦ = 4+ trump support and 10-12 HCP

Note that after a 3♣ or 3♦ response
Opener with only 12-13 points can still sign off in three of his major suit,
and that Opener's rebid of 3NT can be used as RKC Blackwood.
But whatever Opener decides, Responder's bid at the 3-level makes it hard for the Opponents to get into the auction.

The above three responses complement the already existing 5-4 super trump fit responses of :

1. 1♥ - 4♥ (1♠ - 4♠) = Pre-emptive raise : 4+ trump support, 6-10 HCP and singleton or void

2. 1♥ (1♠) - 4♣ = Splinter : 4+ support, 11+ HCP and singleton or void in the suit bid

 Ex. 1 Opener (W) ♠ A 8 ♥ K J 8 5 3 ♦ A 9 5 ♣ Q 9 2 Responder (E) ♠ 9 7 5 4 ♥ Q 9 7 3 ♦ 8 7 4 ♣ J 6 Comment Opener's 3♥ shows 4-card support and 2-6 HCP. Opener passes.With only 17 HCP between them the contract will probably go down, but Opponents would have made a sure contract at the 2-level, and are likely to go down themselves if the bid over 3♥. Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 3♥ - Pass

 Ex. 2 Opener (W) ♠ A 8 ♥ K J 8 5 3 ♦ A 9 5 ♣ Q 9 2 Responder (E) ♠ K 8 5 ♥ Q 10 7 4 ♦ K 9 7 3 ♣ 6 2 Comment With a minimum Opener signs off in 3♥. Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 3♣ - 3♥ - Pass

 Ex. 3 Opener (W) ♠ A 8 ♥ K J 8 5 3 ♦ A 9 5 ♣ Q 9 2 Responder (E) ♠ K 8 5 ♥ A Q 9 7 ♦ K 9 7 3 ♣ 6 2 Comment Opener knows there is enough strength for 4♥. Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 3♦ - 4♥ - Pass

 Ex. 4 Opener (W) ♠ A 8 ♥ K 10 8 5 3 ♦ A 9 ♣ A K 5 2 Responder (E) ♠ K Q 5 ♥ A Q 9 7 2 ♦ 8 7 4 ♣ 8 6 Comment 3NT is RKC Blackwood. Responder shows 1 Ace and must therefore have 6-8 points in other Honours. So Opener decides to go the Slam.(Opener's next bid of 4♠ would ask for the trump Queen.) Bidding : (W) 1♥ - 3♦ - 3NT - 4♦ - 6♥ - Pass

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BR 36.2 - Jacoby 2NT with 4+card trump support

The Jacoby 2NT convention is commonly used in conjunction with the Bergen Raises.
In its standard form it covers all Game force Responder hands which contain 13+ points and 4+card trump support. When Splinter raises are also used, the 2NT response also denies holding a void or singleton.

Response hands with only 3-card trump support and 10+ points bid a new suit first, then raise Opener's major.
Here is a list of the entire range of 3-card and 4+card trump support responses.

With 3-card trump support

1. 1♥ - Pass = 3-card trump support and 0-5 HCP

2. 1♥ - 2♥ = 3-card trump support and 6-10 HCP

3. 1♥ - 2♣ - next time single raise : 2♥ = 3-card trump support and 10-12 HCP *

4. 1♥ - 2♣ - next time raise to Game : 4♥ = 3-card trump support and 13-15 HCP

5. 1♥ - 2♣ - next time jump raise : 3♥ = 3-card trump support and 16+ HCP (Slam interest)
* = But note that after 1♥ - 1♠ a rebid of 2♥ by the Responder would only show 6- 10 points.
So in this case you need to jump to 3♥ with 10-12 points (and Game raise to 4♥ with 13+).

With 4+card trump support

1. 1♥ - 3♥ = Pre-emptive raise : 4+card trump support and 2-6 HCP

2. 1♥ - 3♣ = Bergen raise : 4+card trump support and 7-9 HCP

3. 1♥ - 3♦ = Bergen raise : 4+card trump support and 10-12 HCP

4. 1♥ - 2NT = Jacoby : 4+card support, 13+ points and no singleton or void

5. 1♥ - 4♥ = Pre-emptive raise : 4+card support, 6-10 HCP and singleton or void

6. 1♥ - 4♣ = Splinter : 4+card support, 11+ HCP and singleton or void in the suit bid

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BR 36.3 - Simple Jacoby 2NT with 3+card trump support

When the Responder holds 13+ points, the possibility of a Part-score dog fight with the Opponents has receded and the bidding strategy should instead be clearly focused on keeping the bidding low in order to investigating a Game or Slam contract.   As a consequence the pre-emptive use of the 5-4 trump fit has become superfluous, although its superior strength compared to a 5-3 fit of course remains.

With this in mind I personally recommend the use of the Jacoby 2NT response as an all purpose Game force showing 13+ points and 3+card (rather than 4+card) trump support.
Also after the Jacoby 2NT it is the Opener's task to describe his hand, putting the Responder in charge of the investigation, and of course it is the Responder who knows whether the partnership holds a 5-4 or a 5-3 trump fit !

Using the Jacoby 2NT response in this way, greatly simplifies the bidding with response hands of 10+ points, and it avoids any possible ambiguity after Responder's first bid of a new suit.

Responses with 3-card trump support now become :

1. 1♥ - Pass = 3-card trump support and 0-5 HCP

2. 1♥ - 2♥ = 3-card trump support and 6-10 HCP

3. 1♥ - 2♣ - next time jump raise : 3♥ = 3-card trump support and 10-12 HCP

4. 1♥ - 2NT = 3+card trump support and 13+ HCP
The two sets of responses are shown below.

And remember : 3NT after any Bergen raise is Roman Keycard Blackwood !!

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BR 36.4 - Bidding after Enemy interference

After an Enemy Take-out Double all Bergen raises, Jacoby 2NT responses and Splinter bids remain intact unchanged. Other responses are natural.

After an Enemy Overcall responses change according to the diagram below.

All other responses are natural.

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BR 36.5 - Deal 197 - 204

Deals 197 - 204 are examples of bidding as outlined in this lesson.

Where used the Jacoby 2NT response shows 3+card trump support and any shape.

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