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Vu-Bridge Beginner's Corner

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Bidding Conventions
 
 
  THE THREE C's

Once a partnership has a clear understanding about the elementary bids and responses and their defensive signals, it is time to consider adding a few conventional bids.  There are many artificial bids available that can either help or harm your overall game.  The advice from this quarter is to use only conventions that are crystal clear to both partners and instantly recognizable each time they are used.

     A successful bridge game requires little more than concentration, count and communication. Work hard on your concentration, playing the hand you are holding and not an earlier one, on the bidding, on partner's signals, in visualizing the opponent's card holding and in deciding which cards to play which will provide optimum results. Try to count everything, each trump, every card, every play.  This will take some practice; begin with the trump suit, then the others.  Finally, try and make your bids as clear and meaningful to your partner as you possibly can.  The art of communications with partner is the ultimate key in the outcome of each competition. 

  STAYMAN

Stayman is the most widely used bridge convention.  Its purpose is to locate a 4-4 major suit fit after partner has opened either 1NT or 2NT.  This bid is totally artificial and simply asks, "partner, do you have a 4 card major?"  If the answer is 'yes', the NT opener bids 2H or 2S--a 2H response does not deny 4 spades.  A 2D reply denies both 4 hearts and 4 spades.


1NT-P-2C is Stayman                2NT-P-3C is Stayman


Requirements for a Stayman response to 1NT:

         At least one four card major.

         At least 8 HCPs.

         At least one short side suit (2 cards or less).

Note:  Do not bid Stayman with 4-3-3-3 distribution.  Even with a 4-4 fit, it is better to play the contract in 2NT (8-9) or 3NT (10-15) with no short suit to trump.


Examples:                 Opener                            Responder

                                  1NT                              2C (Stayman)

                                  2S                                4S (4+spades, 10+ 


           1NT                               2C
                                  2D (none)                      2NT (8-9 HCPs)                  

                                   2NT                              3C (Stayman)
                                   3H                                3NT (5-6 HCPs, 4+S)*

*Opener can correct to 4S if also holding 4 spades; if not, play 3NT.


                                                                  Garbage Stayman

If you hold 4441, 4351 or 4450 distribution and have minimal points, with partnership agreement you can bid 2C and pass whatever opener responds.  Since partner must bid either 2D, 2H or 2S, your pass will provide a better contract than 1NT.

          Example:   You hold    9872 3842 K863 2.  Bid 2C and pass the response.

  JACOBY TRANSFERS
  The Jacoby Transfer convention was developed to allow the strong hand to play the contract.  Itapplies after your partner has opened 1NT (15-17) or 2NT (20-21).  This convention is played in conjunction with Stayman.  After your partner has opened the bidding (1NT or 2NT), you transfer by bidding the suit below your 5+card major suit.  Opener must accept the transfer, i.e., 2D/3D is a transfer to hearts and 2H/3H is a transfer to spades.  This is commonly referred to as RST (red suit transfers).  Note: Since responder's bid is artificial, the convention must be marked on the convention card and the Opener must announce "transfer."

Requirement to use Jacoby Transfers:
     0+ points.  You do not need points....just shape.
     Holding one 5+card major suit (and not 4 in the other major).
     Holding 5-5 or 5-6 in the majors.

Note:  With 5-4, 6-4 or 7-4 in the majors, use Stayman.

Five example auctions using Jacoby Transfers:

                   Opener                        Responder
                     1NT                              2D*
                     2H                                3NT**

*Transfer to hearts                      **5 hearts only and game values.

                  Opener                         Responder
                     1NT                              2H*
                     2S                                 4S**

*Transfer to spades                     **6+spades and game values.

                  Opener                         Responder
                     1NT                              2D*
                     2H                                Pass**

*Transfer to hearts                      **5+hearts with a weak hand.

                 Opener                          Responder
                    1NT                               2D*
                    2H                                 2NT**

*Transfer to hearts                      **5 hearts, 8 or 9 points.

                 Opener                         Responder
                    2NT                               3H*
                    3S                                  3NT**

*Transfer to spades                     **5 spades, 5-6 points, no void/singleton.
  ASKING FOR ACES
There are two common conventions in use to ask partner how many aces he/she holds, Gerber and Blackwood.  Two caveats apply in using either of the two:
     a.  be sure where you intend to play the final contract (suit or NT).
     b.  don't use either one if you have a void.

Gerber 

It is recommended that you use a JUMP bid of 4C when the FIRST or LAST bid has been 1NT or 2NT.

Responses to Gerber:

           4C                 4D = 0 or 4 aces
                                4H = 1 ace
                                4S = 2 aces
                              4NT = 3 aces
If your side has four aces, 5C asks for kings.
           5C                5D = 0 or 4 kings
                               5H = 1 king
                               5S = 2 kings
                             5NT = 3 kings

Blackwood

When you or partner has opened the bidding with a suit bid, 4NT asks for aces.

           4NT               5C = 0 or 4 aces
                               5D = 1 ace
                               5H = 2 aces
                               5S = 3 aces
If you have the four aces, 5NT asks for kings.
           5NT               6C = 0 or 4 kings
                               6D = 1 king
                               6H = 2 kings
                               6S = 3 kings

          Roman Keycard

     After you have mastered the Gerber and Blackwood methods above, you may want to consider using the modern day refinement of Blackwood, known as Roman Keycard.  It includes 5 cards to report, the 4 aces plus the King of trump. (If the trump suit has not been clearly established, it should be understood that the King of the last bid suit will be reported.)  With this system, you might also tell partner about the Queen of trumps.  Keycard blackwood uses 2 signal systems (pick one and note on your convention card), 1430 and 3014.  By and large, 1430 predominates in the U.S. while 3014 is the European standard.
     Following a 4NT bid by partner, 1430 responses are:
   5C - 1 or 4 keycards.
   5D - 0 or 3 keycards.
   5H - 2 or 5 keycards w/o the Queen of trumps.
   5S - 2 or 5 keycards with the Queen of trumps.
     If using the 3014 system:
   5C - 0 or 3 keycards.
   5D - 1 or 4 keycards.
   5H & 5S are same as 1430.


  TAKEOUT DOUBLES
A double is for TAKE-OUT when:
        1.  Opponents have opened with a suit bid.
        2.  Neither you nor partner have yet bid (other than Pass).
        3.  The auction is still below game level.

     Requirements for a T-O Double:
        1.  11+ distribution points.
        2.  Shortage in Opponent's suit (2 or less).
        3.  Tolerance for all unbid suits with emphasis on the majors.
        4.  Exception:  With 17+points and a good suit of your own, your hand may have any distribution.  (Doubling and then bidding your suit promises a BIG hand.)

     Responses to a T-O double (no interference):
        1.  0-8      Bid your best (longest) suit at the lowest possible level.
        2. 9-10     Jump one level in your best suit.
        3. 11-12   Jump to one level below game.
        4. 13+      Jump to game OR cue-bid opponent's suit.
        5. 1NT     6-9 HCPs with stopper(s) in opponent's suit,
        6. 2NT     10-12 "       "        "           "      "           "
        7. 3NT     13-15 "       "        "           "      "           "

     Doubler's 2nd bid:
        1.  Add your values to those shown by partner and take appropriate action.
        2.  If there is no chance for game, pass.  If there are game values, bid it.
        3.  If there might be values for game, invite partner to bid game (or pass).

                          Examples of T-O Double hands
Opponent opens 1D           You              Bid                Comments
                      1)  J532 KQ74 8 AJT9       X     Should have both majors, 4/4+
                      2)  KQJ KQ74 95 Q842      X      If 4-3 in majors, 3cd suit strong
                      3)  KQJ5 95432 - J653       X     Ideal!
                      4)  AKQ98 43 AJ3 QJ2      X      Big hand! Bid 2S on rebid
                      5)  A43 AKQ QT J6432   Pass    Wrong shape. Wait!
  NEGATIVE DOUBLES
     A Negative Double (negative meaning NOT a PENALTY) is a TAKE-OUT double by the RESPONDER.  It only applies when your partner opens a suit bid and RHO overcalls with a suit bid.  If so, a double by you promises 4 (no more) cards in the other unbid suits.  Negative doubles are forcing for one round.  Partnermust bid.

   1.  If one major has been bid, you promise the other major and a minor.
   2.  If neither major has been bid, you promise both majors (4/4+).
   3.  If both majors have been bid, you promise both minors. (4/4+).

   HCPs required:
     1 Level  - 6+
     2 Level  - 8+
     3 Level  - 11+

Negative Doubles apply until the bidding has reached the 2 spade or 3 spade level (partnership agreement).  3 spade level is recommended.

                                Negative Double Examples

Partner opens 1C.  RHO bids 1S.
            You                    Bid                Comment
xx AKJx Qxxx xxx             X                 Perfect for a 1S or 2S overcall.
xxx AJxx AKxx Qx            X                 Perfect for a 1S, 2S or 3S overcall.
xxx KQJxx xx Jxx              X                 Less than 10 pts. Don't bid 2H.
AJx Kx xxxx Jxxx            1NT              6-10 HCPs with a spade stopper.
xx KQJxx Axx Kxx            2H               10+ HCPs, 5+ hearts.
xxxx Kxxx x Jxxx           X/Pass            With 4 HCP, 4 hearts, a singleton and 4cd club support, suggest X.
                                                           Conservative players may pass.

Partner opens 1D.  RHO bids 1H.
              You                  Bid                           Comment
KJxx xx AKxx Kxx            X                  Perfect for a 1H, 2H or 3H overcall.
QJxxx xxx xx Axx             1S                 Promises 5+ spades, 6+ HCPs.
Jxx Kxx xxxx Axx             2D                Promises 4+ diamonds, 6-9 HCPs.

  NEW MINOR FORCING
   Many good players value this convention where responder holds an invitational type hand (11+ HCPs) and is looking for a major suit fit after opener's rebid of 1NT following an initial first bid of either 1C or 1D.  Ex:
           Opener                                         Responder
  Kxx Jx AJxxx KQx                            Axxxx KQxx Qx Jx
             1D                        -P-                         1S
            1NT (13-15)           -P-                         2C* (artificial & alertable)
             2S**                     -P-                         4S

*NMF (the other minor)      **3 spades, no 4 card major
Note:  If opener has 4 hearts, the response is 2H and 4H becomes the final contract.  Having neither 4H or 3S. opener bids NT or rebids diamonds.  Play this convention OFF with interference.