Have You Discussed? – Passed Hand Bidding by Barry Rigal

David Stern, Barry Rigal y Brent Manley

Source: Gold Coast Congress Bulletin 3

It stands to reason that bidding by a passed hand must be different to action by an unpassed hand. Have you discussed the following positions?

1. Do you play Drury – and what are the continuations?

2. When are new suits (or jumps) in response to an opening bid or overcall by a passed hand different in meaning from those bids by an unpassed hand?

3. If you don’t overcall at your first turn, what do subsequent bids mean?

4. When do no-trump bids become unusual not natural?

1. In response to a major-suit opening in third or fourth seat Drury is designed to keep the partnership low when appropriate. Let’s assume you play Reverse Drury – when opener’s rebid of his major denies any game interest. If so you need to consider the following questions.

a. When Drury is doubled which is weaker, passing or reversion to the major? (I vote for rebidding the major to suggest a (sub-)minimum with five trumps, passing tending to suggest a minimum hand with a four-card major).

b. After a 1 opening is 2 forcing over a Drury enquiry, or weak with both majors? (Natural and weak for me.)

c. Do ALL game tries go through 2? (I say yes; direct actions in response to a Drury 2 enquiry higher than your own suit should be slam-tries).

d. Do you use long and short suit game tries as after a major suit is raised? (If you play a method such as long and short-suit slam tries after a simple raise of a major you should do so here, in the Drury sequences, too. The scheme proposed by George Rosenkranz is to use the first step to show any shortsuit trial bid, and the next three calls as long-suit trial bids; this method is called Reverse Romex trialbids). Short suits are singletons, long-suits should be help-suits, ideally three or four cards to one honour.)

e. Do you use splinters – (and if not, why not?)

f. Is a 2NT rebid by opener (directly or after a 2 waiting bid) forcing?

g. How does responder continue if he wants to move on over the 2 waiting bid, or the two major sign-off by his partner? (Again if you use Reverse Romex trial bids this would work fine here).

2. If we have a relatively free-wheeling approach to pre-emption (as I believe everyone in this country does!) then you can reasonably assume that passing denies the ability to pre-empt as well as a pulse. Thus subsequent jumps or even high-level non-jump new suit actions shouldn’t be natural – or you would have bid already. They must either be two-suited or fit-showing.

Consider the following auction:

West North East South
Pass Pass 1 2

If this is natural it should depending on style be a moderate hand with a poor suit (but then why not a simple overcall?) or more likely a flawed pre-empt because of side-suit pattern.

Perhaps QJxx AJ10xxx xxx —. What about this one:

West North East South
Pass Pass 3 Double

In my book this is a raise to 4 asking for a heart lead – in just the same way that it would be without your Right Hand Opponent’s double.

3. We all know what an overcall looks like; it is worth discussing what actions by a hand that has failed to overcall look like. A sequence such as:

West North East South
1 Pass 1 2
2 3

Must sensibly be a heart raise with a lead-director in clubs. If you could not bid 2 over 1 you cannot want to bid them now unless you have heart tolerance.

More difficult is to determine what actions by a passing hand if any (especially delayed doubles) show length in opener’s suit.

Most but by no means all experts play the following doubles as penalty based on length in RHO’s suit; do you?


And what about the following:

West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Double

Presumably this is take out of clubs with length in diamonds. But what does it say about spades? I’d assume the auction suggested the red-suits.

Conversely there is no mainstream agreement about what the following double shows. Is it take-out for the unbid suits with protective values, or opening values – Or is it three-suited take-out with opening values, short in the bid and raised suit?

West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Double

4. The same problem applies to unusual no-trump actions. What about a call of 2NT in the last-quoted auction? In my book that is the minors with better diamonds or you would have overcalled directly, and NOT clubs and hearts – where you would have bid directly.

As a passed hand you frequently have the luxury of being able to choose between a double or no-trump bid to show the unbid suits. Have you agreed what the difference is between:

West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1

Double or 1NT or 2NT

I’d guess the mainstream position would be that double was a maximum pass 5-4 pattern, 1NT was 5-5 and 2NT at least 11 cards in the unbid suits.

Passed hand bidding of 2NT as unusual comes up in more positions than you’d expect. For example

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

This surely cannot be natural, and you can’t hold hearts or you would double to start with. So it must be the minors – and yet you can’t have four diamonds or you would have raised initially. Maybe a hand such as: Jxx xx Q10x KQxxx Is possible?

Equally, whenever both you and your partner have passed at your first turn to speak you can’t sensibly want to declare 2NT. Consider:

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

This sounds like take-out oriented to the minors. Why not: Qxx Kx Kxxxx Qxx or even a hand 4-4 in the minors in case the doubler is a little off shape. By the way this prohibition on natural 2NTs when you failed to bid no-trumps at an earlier opportunity extends to sequences such as:

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

Again, your failure to bid no-trump at your first turn suggests you must have the minors.