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Do not let Opponents play at the 2 level if they have found a fit.
Nearly all players learn relatively early to bid their 25-26 point games and 33 point slams. You are not likely losing many match points by failing to bid games and slams when you have the points to do so.
But, you ARE losing match points by permitting Opponents to play at the 2 level if they have found a fit. You need to put a stop to that (and reap the benefits).
What is wrong with permitting the opponents to play at the 2 level if they have a fit?
1. They generally make their bid.
2. Your actual opponents (players sitting the same direction) are often not permitting it.
3. Your loss will likely be less than 110 or 140.
4. You may miss the opportunity to push them high enough to get a positive score.
I am speaking for the most part about not letting the Opponent s play 2 Spades or 2 Hearts; I believe 2 of a Minor is a bit different. How can I prevent it?
You will bid in the balancing (pass-out) seat to tell Partner to bid. Your basic choices are:
1. Bid a 5 card suit.
2. Double.
3. Bid 2 NT.
“Nice people do not make good bridge players.” – Mike Lawrence.
Here is a simplified list of the possible point distribution the Opponents will have:
12-15 opposite 6
12-15 opposite 7
12-15 opposite 8
12-15 opposite 9
12-15 opposite 6-9 Responder will “never” have 10. c.f. QJ5 QJ5 QJ7 J654.
When did you last see that Dummy? 5 years ago? 5 months ago? Doesn’t matter. Do not build your bridge game around a once or twice a year problem.
Are there potential problems? Sure! You could go for (much) more than their partial score. (You could go for 200, 500 or more.) You could also make your bid but that is not the goal.
However, you give the Opponents 3 choices:
-Double you for penalty
-Bid to the 3 level
-Pass and let you play
Choosing their best option is not always clear. Your problem becomes their problem.

In general, if they have a fit, YOU have a fit. They found theirs, find yours!

If the Opponents are bidding Hearts, in the pass-out seat,
Dbl. = 4 Spades and a tolerance for both minors
2NT = both minors and fewer than 4 Spades
2S/3C/D = a 5-card suit (to an honor?).
Partner will have a good idea how many Hearts you have.
Example: 1 Heart-Pass-2 Hearts- Pass-Pass-???
K J 9 4
10 7
J 8 6
K 5 4 3
A 3 2
4 3
Q J 4 3
A 9 8 2
8 7 6
Q 10 9 8
5 4 3 2
Q 10 6 2
x x
x x x x x
x x x x x
Double Double or Bid 2NT
Pass? 2 NT? Bid 2 NT(!)

What is going on with hands C & D? Answer: Where are the points? Opener has less than 16, Responder has less than 10 so 24 (15 + 9) is their combined maximum total; Partner has 16(+) in D. How could Partner pass with 16+ points? Because she TRUSTS you! (to reopen). Don’t let her down.

Reopen in the Pass-out seat unless you have a reasonable chance of setting the contract.


The theory and reasoning are the same, the bids similar.If the Opponents are bidding Spades, in the pass-out seat:

Dbl. = 4 Hearts and a tolerance for both Minors
2NT = Both Minors and fewer than 4 Hearts
3C/D/H = a 5-card suit (to an honor?).

  J 10 7 5
K J 9 4
J 8
K 5 4
7 3 2
A 7 4 3
4 3
A 9 8 2
Q 10 9 8
8 7 6
Q 10 5 4
8 6 2
x x
x x x x x
x x x x x
Double Bid 2NT
Pass Bid 2 NT(!)

What is going on with hands C & D? Answer: Same as above D. WHAT HAPPENS IF I PUSH?
Here are some possible consequences of your aggressive “pushiness”:

a) If you let them play at the two-level   110, 140 or 170
b) If you bid at the 2 or 3 level and make it 110  
c) If you bid at the 3 level and go down   50 or 100
d) If THEY bid to the three level and go down 50 or 100  
e) If they bid 3 and make it   140
f) If they double you at 3 level   100, 200, 500

Most of the time, it is right to not let them play a contract at the 2 level and bid and make their contract.

-You will be AHEAD 60% of the time (b, c and d).
-You will BREAK EVEN 20% of the time: (e)
-You will SUFFER 20% of the time (f). This is the least likely result; most of the time you will not be doubled. Keep in mind that at Pairs (match points) it is about how often not how much.

E. WHEN IS IT NOT APPROPRIATE TO BALANCE?-When they do not have a trump fit.

West North East South
1 Pass 1NT Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
Pass ?    

-When they are in their third suit:

West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
Pass ?    

BTW, what do you lead against this type of bidding?


  K Q 10
10 9 7
K 9 8
A 9 6 3
8 6
K J 3 2
A J 7 4 2
K 7
  A 9 3
Q 8 6 4
6 5 3
Q 10 4
  J 7 5 4 2
A 5
Q 10
J 8 5 2
West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass Pass 2


  K J 6 5 4
A K 6 4
Q 8 7
J 10 8 3
9 7 6 5 4
J 10 2
  9 8 3
9 2
K Q 8 2
A K 5 3
  Q 10 7 2
Q 7 5
A 10 3
9 6 4
West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass Pass 2NT 3
The End      


-Only applies after 1-P- raise to 2.
-Bid directly over Responder with a hand you would balance with if you were in the pass-out seat.
-You will make aggressive overcalls in this seat.
-Partner must not get excited, i.e., over bid.
-Bid at the 2 level on almost any decent 5-card suit (unless you have good reason not to)*.
-If you have a better hand, you should bid almost any 5-card suit.
-Particularly if you are short in a higher suit and do not want Partner to balance in that suit.
-Be aggressive in this fourth seat when Responder makes a non-forcing bid.
-Caution! Opener has not limited his hand.
* Can reasonably expect to set the contract.

With: 43  AJT87  KJ42  32:

After 1-P-2, bid 2 if not Vul. You do not want partner to bid 2 or pass.

With: AK642  A842  963, pre-balance with 2 at any Vul.