One call that comes up frequently during the auction is the overcall. Suppose the player on your right opens the bidding 1♦ and it’s your turn. The guidelines for making an overcall are straightforward:
At the one level - 7-17 points and a good five-card or longer suit.
At the two level - 12-17 points and a good six-card or longer suit.
This advice should be easy to implement. Some experts suggest 8 – 17 at the one level, and 13-17 at the two level but the idea is the same. You don’t need opening bid values to overcall at the one level and you need to be careful at the two level.
Let’s try a four question Quick Quiz:
East opens 1♦. You’re sitting South and it's your turn.
1. The hand has a five-card spade suit with two of the top three honors. There are a total of 8 high card points. 1♠ is the textbook bid.
2. With 13 points, East would open 1♣ with this hand, however, to overcall at the two level with 2♣, you need a better and a longer club suit. Pass is the suggested call.
3. There are 19 high-card points and the limit is 17 high-card points for making an overcall. 1♥ would show fewer points. The double is used first. Then you bid hearts. This sequence of bidding describes the point-count range and the length of the heart suit.
4. You might not have discussed this with your partner before the game. There are several ideas. This looks a lot like a weak two bid: a good six-card suit and a weak hand with 6-10 high-card points. Many, even most players, would make a weak 2♠jump overcall. It describes a hand with a good six-card suit but little else. It’s like a weak 2♠ preemptive opening bid.
Examples like these help refine your overcalling skills and put you in a position to handle unfamiliar or undiscussed situations.
Suppose you’re playing with a new partner and like the experience. You’d like to play again. After the person on your right opens 1♦, you have this hand.
Once you’ve spent time refining your overcalling - and the subsequent auction - skills, you can feel confident about the decision you make with a hand like this. This four-card heart suit ‘feels’ like a five-card suit. It’s reasonable to overcall 1♥. If partner’s on lead, you’ve given a suggestion about what suit to lead, and that’s one of the three reasons for overcalling. You might make the contract; you might get in the way of the opponents getting to the best contract; you can suggest an opening lead.
At the one level - 7-17 points and a good five-card or longer suit. ..........
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