1.     A simple overcall at the 1-level should always show a 5+ card suit.
It is vital to the total trumps principle that you know, as accurately as possible how many trumps you hold between you.

Remember the total trumps principle? On hands where your side holds the minority of points or the points are balanced between the partnerships, use the number of trumps held by your partnership to guide you to the correct number of tricks for which you should be contracting.

2.     The point range for a simple overcall at the 1-level is 7-17 points.

It will usually be in the 9-12 points range but there are times when you should choose a simple overcall on a very strong hand because every other bid would be less descriptive. Because a take out double promises shortage in the opponentÕs suit and at least three card support for the other three suits you should prefer the overcall to the double on single suited hands especially those containing a 5 card major because otherwise you may miss the 5-3 fit.

3.     Be keen to enter the auction with a spade overcall on sub minimum hands particularly at the 1-level as this forces opposition to the 2-level to introduce a new suit.

4.     An overcall at the 1-level is a safe way to compete. You will never (well hardly ever!) be doubled for penalties.

An overcall at the 2-level is dangerous. They are completely different bids.

5.     The requirement for a simple overcall at the 2-level is an opening hand with at least a 5 card suit.

You have to be strong because now you are offering players a relatively simple opportunity to penalise you. Compromise as much as you want at the 1-level but never at the 2-level, especially when your LHO has not passed and particularly when your partner has already passed.

Coming in at the 2-level is dangerous enough but entering it when you are in the ŌsandwichÕ position (when there is an opening bid and a change of suit response) is even more gruesome:

West      E/W Vul.                                                      N         E          S         W
S K8                                                                            1S        NB      2C       ?
H AK853
D Q76                                                              DonÕt do it! DonÕt even think about it!
C 942

Overcalling here when you are vulnerable is madness. You are not obstructing the opponentÕs bidding. All you are doing by overcalling is helping the opposition who may:

double you for an obscenely large penalty OR
bid to their normal contract and now know the distribution and position of the high cards OR
bid a game that they would never have found because you have helped them to value heir combined holdings correctly.


From The Bidding Battle by Paul Mendelson