A reader writes:
My partner and I play long suit game tries after a major suit opening is raised to the two level. Too often we miss a good four of a major contract, or we go down in three when we overbid. This is getting frustrating. How can we improve our bidding after game trials?
I sympathize. It feels lousy to watch partner decline your game try and then fail at the three level. It feels worse to pass the raise only to make game when partner tables a good-fitting maximum. Major suit raise auctions can be improved, but surprisingly advanced game trials techniques are only a small part of the solution. After an auction begins 1
98% of the time the hand belongs either in game or in partscore.
Suppose you knew in advance whether the hand belonged in game or partscore. How would you bid? When the hand belongs in game, the best strategy would be to jump directly to game. Other calls expose information that help opponents to defend. When the hand belongs in partscore, the best strategy would to pass. Playing three spades offers no bonus over two spades and increases the chance you will go minus. So if opener knew in advance whether the hand belonged in game or partscore, he would never make a game trial. Let’s call this bidding approach, the ideal strategy, since it can only occur in an ideal world where we have foreknowledge of partner’s hand.
Unfortunately, in the real world, we can’t apply the ideal strategy. When a single raise might include anywhere from 6-10 points and 3-5 trumps, abandoning game trials would lead to many disastrous over- and underbids. Is there a way that we can get closer, so we are required to game try less often?
Perhaps if our single raise was more narrowly limited, that would help our problem. If the raise to two of a major was more narrowly defined, opener would often know the correct level simply by hearing the raise.
We need two ways to raise: one to show 5-7 and another to show 8-10. This bidding style is known as constructive major suit raises. The constructive raise style requires that you play 5-card major suit openings and a forcing 1NT response.
A constructive raise is defined as a single raise to two of a major and shows a good 8 to a bad 10 points plus three or more trumps. Examples:
A weak raise is shown by bidding 1NT and later taking preference to two of a major. This sequence serves double duty and shows either 5-to-7 HCP and three trumps or 6-to-9 and a doubleton in trumps.
Pass 1NT Pass
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