Paul Lavings

Responding to 1 and 1 Opening Bids

Try this quiz at nil vulnerable. Playing Bergen raises, what do you respond to 1 holding:

1 (Pass) ?

1. 98, K72, Q875, 9863

2. 987, 3, K1085, Q8753

3. Q10853, 6, J82, Q764

4. 753, 8, KJ108632, J8

5. Q102, 876, Q872, Q75

6. K10652, KJ6, 872, J10

7. Q1076, Q974, QJ63, 2

8. K832, AJ43, KQ43, 5

9. 3, K9862, J76, Q1064

10. K97652, KJ954, 92,

1. Pass. If you respond 2 you have a poor hand for the remainder of the auction. Also, if opener tries for game, or bids game, the fi nal contract will most likely fail. If you pass 1, you suddenly have a great hand, and can compete accurately to the correct level. Opener needs to stay in the auction with extra points or shape, if RHO reopens in fourth seat.

2. Pass. You may find a better strain than hearts if you respond 1NT, but partner may also rebid 2, 3, or even 4, or maybe 2NT or 3NT. You are better off to hope 1 makes, or is a close contest. One-level contracts are difficult to defend (1 is the toughest contract to play or defend), not to speak of the problems you give the opponent in fourth seat. And if the opponents do re-open, you have a good defensive hand, and will likely be on the offensive. It’s worth stressing again, that opener should not retreat from the bidding just because you passed their opening bid.

3. 1. With the other major the temptation to respond at the one-level is too strong to resist. 1NT may well be a better spot than 1, and you may also fi nd a spade fit, and even bid successfully to 4.

4. 1NT. Partner might jump to 3 or 4, but in most scenarios you will be able to sign off in diamonds. Playing in 2 or 3 would obviously be a significant improvement to playing in 1, and it is well worth the risk to try and improve the contract. Then again sometimes you get to play in 1NT, which has a far greater upside than 1.

5. 1NT. Prefer pass to 2. You do have three-card heart support, but with 4-3-3-3 shape you have no shortages, so no ruffs in your hand. You may well end up in a heart contract, but for the moment you want to put your foot firmly on the brakes.

6. 2. You are only allowed one trump suit, and you know that it is hearts. If you respond 1, and then give preference to hearts, opener will never play you for three-card support. Also, 2 takes more space from the opponents, and prevents them from coming in with a 2 or 2 overcall.

7. 3. With a good trump fit, here at least 5-4, shortages can be gold. If the opener has four clubs your four trumps and singleton club may create three extra tricks. And keep in mind opener still needs extras to bid 4 over 3. So upgrade from 3= 6-10, to a limit raise of 3= 10-12.

8. 2NT. Jacoby 2NT = game force with 4+ trumps. This hand is too strong for a 4 splinter, which is best played as 9-12, with something like three useful high cards. On this hand, you could make a slam opposite many sound minimums, so you need space to sort out how your cards fit.

9. 4. With 0-6 HCP, five trumps and a singleton, the recommended bid is a jump to game. True, it won’t always be the most accurate bid, but you will need to bid quickly to game in the majority of cases. This is one of many situations where you are simply going with the odds, so you will lose out from time to time.

10. 2NT. With at least a 5-5 trump, a void, and a strong six-card side suit, your hand has way too much potential for anything but a Jacoby 2NT Game Force.After all, slam is virtually cold opposite, say, Q3, A10754, AQ4, J54. The 2NT response should give you space to assess how your shortages and controls mesh together. Maybe slam is cold, and then again, even just making 10 tricks may be a battle.
Paul Lavings
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