Quick summary

If partner bid a new suit, you must rebid.

With < 16 HCP, your main choices are:

Don't break your barrier!

The main way to tell your partner if you have more than 16 HCP is to break your barrier! So don't. Yes, you need to have thought about your rebid at the time you made your first bid.

A single raise by you to one short of game, after partner supports your suit, has 2 different meanings:


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal

«  0051  »

Openers rebid. Unbalanced, You are weak

Keep describing your hand. Always bid if forced.

You've got 12-15 HCP. That's at the weak end of things.

Even still, unless your partner has simply given you weak support for your suit, or replied in NT, you will need to bid again.

Your main choices are:

  1. keep bidding (or not) after partner supported your suit
  2. rebid your first suit, even though partner suggested something new
  3. support partner's new Major suit with 4-cards, sometimes with 3
  4. bid a new suit at the lowest level, ignoring partner's new suggestion

First though. . .

Unless you plan to support your partner's new suit, don't break your barrier! If you do break your barrier as you change suit, then your partner will rightly conclude that you must have 16 HCP or more. So don't break it.

Yes, you need to have thought about your rebid at the time you made your first bid.

Anyway, now to your 4 options. . .

1 Partner has supported your suit

The bid level (2,3,4 etc) your partner used to support you will tell you how many points he has, to within a couple of points. So you'll now be able to add your combined strength and evaluate your ability to reach game. Don't forget to add points for shape, which you must now do because you have trump suit "agreement' (sometimes this is called a suit "match", or an 8-card suit fit).

If some doubt remains, you can "invite" to game, by bidding at one level lower than that needed for game (you need 4heart or spade to get to game). If your partner is at the top of their range, they will "accept" the invitation and raise your bid to game.

In addition, you can use the Losing Trick Count to help you decide how high to bid.

There are some more advanced techniques to find a game when you don't quite have enough points, such as "trial bids" with Major suit agreement, or "show me your stopper" if you have suit agreement in a minor (and hope to end up in No Trumps). Having received support from your partner, then if for any reason you now change suit on your rebid (and there are several reasons, including needing to show special shape), then your bid is forcing.

If your partner has jump supported your minor suit (bidding 3 after your 1), then a bid from you of 4 in a different suit is very strong and shows interest in a Slam and is asking for a cue bid.

Beware:More advanced bidders sometimes used "Inverted Minor Raises", where a raise to 3 after your opening of 1 in a minor shows weakness, whereas a raise to 2 shows strength.

2 Rebid your first suit

Re-bidding a suit tells your partner that you've got a 6-card suit, and that you don't have an alternative suit with 4- or 5-cards. If he's got 2-card support for your re-bid suit, he'll now be able to support you on his rebid. Of course if he doesn't, well then you may not have an 8-card fit, and you'll probably end up terminating the auction.

With 6-cards, you should rebid your suit at a level just one higher than your original bid. Any higher and your partner will misread your 12-15 HCP strength, and put you with 16-19.

3 Support partner's new Major suit

If partner bid a different suit from you, then you are forced to bid. If he was obliged to bid at the two level then he's also quite strong, must have 10 HCP, and must have 5-cards if it was a Major that he bid. If he was able to bid at the one level, he might also be quite strong. . .it's just that at this stage he can't tell you. (The rare exception to this is if he his both very long and very strong) .

Anyway, if he bid a new Major at the one level, he might have 5 but he's only promising 4 cards. At the two level he really does have 5.

Remember you want to support Majors more than minors. So if you can see that you have an 8-card Major fit, then you should support it.

If you only have 3-cards in his new Major that was bid at the one-level then, because a 7-card fit can sometimes put you in trouble, it's generally best not to support it immediately, but to carry on describing your hand and keep up the hunt for the right contract. And delayed support (supporting it next time) will tell your partner that you have precisely 3-card support.

What level? Since you are in the 12-15 HCP range, don't jump support, or your innocent partner will think you are stronger than you really are. Bid at the lowest level possible given your relatively weak opening hand.

At this exact stage though, don't forget to now add points for any shortages, which you must now do because you have trump suit agreement. You might in effect no longer be in the weaker 12-15 points range, and now's the time to raise your bidding level to tell your partner about this. Obviously with 16-18 you can jump support his suit. With 19+ you can be confident of Major game, whether he responded at the one level or he two level.

And given an 8-card fit, those that like it can use now use Losing Trick Count analysis to help you decide how high to bid.

(More advanced bidders can keep in mind another option: After this rebid of yours, an option for your partner's next and second bid will be for him to ask you to describe your hand even further using something called Fourth Suit Forcing).

Of course, knowing all the above (!), your partner will know how to calculate what to do next.

4 Bid a new suit at the lowest level

If you can't support your partner's suggestion, you may be able to bid a second suit provided it has 4-cards.But beware ! By bidding a second suit, you are also telling your partner that you have five of the first suit that you bid. Your initial bid guaranteed only four of your first suit, so this second bid is refining your first bid in more ways than one, and is designed to help your partner to indicate his preference.

Again, it is important not to go through your barrier, to ensure that your partner will also know that you have 12-15 HCP, not 16+.

It's not forcing. Since you didn't break your barrier, then your partner is allowed to pass your new bid, even though it was a new suit. In so doing, i.e. passing, your partner is in effect indicating a preference for the second suit.

For example, if the bidding went 1heart-1spade-2diamond, your partner (the responder) might only have 6 HCP, two cards in Hearts and four each in Spades and Diamonds. He knows you can only have 15 HCP at the very best, so there's no point him bidding any further. Bidding beyond 2diamond when your combined strength could also be as low as 18 HCP is unduly risky.

However, if he does pass, your partner will have kept in mind the possibility that game could still be on. For example, with the same 1heart-1spade-2diamond bidding sequence, he might have 12 HCP, 4 Spades, 5 diamonds and a club shortage. If you had 15HCP then he'd be wrong to pass, as 5 diamonds could be on.

6-4 distribution

If you have two biddable suits with a 6-4 distribution, you're in luck. "Six and four, bid some more" as the famous song goes. In general, bid the long suit first, then the 4-card suit, then the 6-card suit again if you get the chance.



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