ACBL10C – Bidding: Understanding Overcalls     Ward Trumbull

                                                                                                         May 1, 2011

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What is an Overcall?


       After the opponents have opened the bidding, a suit bid by you or your

partner is called an OVERCALL.  It indicates that you have a 5+ card suit

with 2-or-more honors (10 thru ace), but not as weak as just a 10 and jack.

Think of it as a suit you would like your partner to lead if your left hand

opponent (LHO) is declarer and your partner is on lead.


Point Count Requirements


      You should overcall at the one level with 6-12 HCP.

      You should overcall at the two level with 8-12 HCP.

      You should double (Takeout Double) with 13+ HCP.  (Takes 1 year to

                                                                                           learn this.)


Partner’s Options


      An overcall is not a request for partner to bid.  If partner has 2 cards in that suit he/she can pass when it is his/her turn to bid.  With 3+ cards in that suit, he/she may make a support bid in that suit or pass.  If partner bids another suit, he/she is implying that he/she has a singleton or void in your overcall suit.


Overcalls Differ from Opening Bids


      If you open the bidding and your partner responds, (with few exceptions) you must bid again.


      If you overcall, you are not obligated to bid again.  So if your partner bids a different suit, you can pass.  Even with a void in his/her bid suit, you

can pass.  Note I did not say must pass.  But remember his/her bid says

he/she can’t live with your suit either.




        ACBL10C – Bidding: Understanding Overcalls      May 1, 2011

                                                                                                                   Page 2 of 2


What Problems Occur?


       1.  Many bridge players overcall with as many as 17+ HCP, which is

            not what I teach.  So to them it is a Takeout Overcall.  They do

            expect their partners to bid, even a different suit.  To them, naming

            their suit is more important than telling partner their HCP range.


       2.  Many such players treat all partner overcalls as Takeout Overcalls,

            and they will respond in different suits, even though they may have

            support in the overcall suit.


       3.  The overcaller is later on lead against the opponents contract and

            makes a bad lead in that suit because partner never supported the

            overcall suit.  Partner may not have supported because:


                  a. He/she had only 2 cards in that suit.

                  b. He/she didn’t have many HCP.

                  c. The vulnerability was un favorable.

                  d. The opponents had raised the bid too high to respond.


            The good leads of an unsupported overcall suit would be:


                  a. Top of a sequence, such as, ace from AK, king from KQ or

                      queen from QJ.


            The bad leads of an unsupported overcall suit would be:


                  a. The ace without the king, king without the queen or queen

                      without the jack.

                  b. Under leading an ace, king, queen or jack by leading a spot

                      card (2 thru 10).


            Note: If you overcall a suit and then make an opening lead in

                     another suit, you are indicating you don’t have touching

                     honors at the top and want partner to lead the suit when

                     he/she gets on lead.