ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game               Ward Trumbull                                                                    

                                                                                                                  Oct 5, 2011

                                                                                                                  Page 1 of 6

Bidding Conversation


      Bidding is a conversation between two bridge partners.  Each of them is trying to tell the other about their suit distributions and point counts, which sometimes is only high card points (HCP) and other times is HCP and distribution points (below referred to as POINTS).  Note that you only indicate POINTS when a suit has been agreed upon.


      All partnership bids are telling something (even passes); but some are also asking something.  Your ability to recognize asking bids and what is being asked is an accurate indication of your level of bridge skills.


Obvious Asking Bids


      Most common bidding convention bids are asking bids:


            1. Stayman                              Asking if partner has a 4-card major

            2. Gerber/Blackwood               Asking the number of partner’s aces

                                                            or controls with Roman Key Card

            3. Ogust                                  Asking partner for his HCP range

                                                            and status of the top 3 honors in his

                                                            weak 2 suit

            4. Drury                                   Asking if partner’s hand is weak

                                                            when he opened in third position

            5. 5/5 Major Transfer               Asking 1 notrump partner to pick

                                                            one of the major suits

            6. 5/5 Minor Transfer               Asking 1 notrump partner to pick a

                                                            minor suit for a possible minor suit


            7. Limit Raise (majors)             Asking partner to bid game with 14+


            8. 2 notrump over 1 notrump   Asking the opener to bid 3 notrump

                                                            with 17-18 HCP


      These asking bids should be obvious to all who play and use these conventions.

             ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game                 Oct 5, 2011

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Obvious Asking Bids (continued)


      Note that Jacoby Transfer, Minor Transfer and Texas Transfer bids are

not asking bids.  They are telling/demanding bids – telling partner to bid the next higher suit.    


Not-So Obvious Asking Bids


      There are however, many bids that are asking something, and good  

players must be able to recognize these too.  These type bids have two

inherent problems:


      1. The player making the asking bid:


           a. Doesn’t know that he is making an asking bid.

           b. Doesn’t know what he is asking.

           c. Doesn’t have the correct hand to be making that asking bid.


      2. The responding player:


           a. Doesn’t know it is an asking bid.

           b. Doesn’t know what is being asked.


Example 1:          Opener       LHO      Partner      RHO

                            ----------      -------      ----------     -------

                            1 club        pass       1 heart      pass

                            3 hearts     pass            ?


       Is the opener just telling “We’ve got 8+ hearts.”, or is he also asking something?


           a. If he is asking (i.e. inviting to game), he must have 16-17

               POINTS.  He is asking partner if he has 8/9+ POINTS to bid 4

               hearts.  With 18+ POINTS he should bid game himself.

           b. If not 16-17 HCP, take him out behind the woodshed and read

               this handout to him.



             ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game                 Oct 5, 2011

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Not-So Obvious Asking Bids

Example 1 (continued)  


      If opener doesn’t have 16-17 POINTS, he should just bid 2 hearts.

Now partner has these options:


           a. With 6-9 POINTS, pass.

           b. With 10-11 POINTS, bid 3 hearts asking the opener to bid game

                                                 with 14-15 POINTS.

           c. With 12+ POINTS, bid 4 hearts.


      When the opponents get into the bidding, it takes more bidding skills to make asking bids.


Example 2:          Opener          LHO         Partner          RHO

                            -----------      -----------      -----------     -------------

                            1 heart       1 spade       2 hearts      2 spades

                            3 hearts      pass                 ?


       Is the opener just competing to play in 3 hearts, or is he making the

same asking bid as in example 1 above?  Partner has no way of knowing.

There is a way the opener can ask.  Any bid other than 3 hearts by the

opener should be treated as an asking bid inviting partner to bid game with

the requested 8/9+ POINTS.  With 6-7 POINTS, partner should just bid three hearts.  In the example above, instead of bidding 3 hearts, the opener could have asked/invited by bidding:


       1. Double - you don’t double two contracts for penalty; so that must be

                          an asking bid.


       2. Two Notrump - you don’t switch to a notrump contract once you

                         have a suit fit; so that must be an asking bid.


       3. Three Clubs - Why switch suits?  It must be an asking bid.

       4. Three Diamonds - The same.

             ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game                 Oct 5, 2011

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Different Type Asking Bids

      1. Asking for Help


         In the Example 2 explanation, the 3-of-a-minor bid was a point count

         query.  Here is an example where a suit switch asks a different



         Example 3:   Opener          LHO         Partner          RHO

                              -----------      -----------      -----------     -------------

                              1 heart          pass         2 hearts        pass

                              3 clubs          pass              ?


         In Example 3 the opener is telling partner they appear to have

         enough points for game, but he has a weak club suit.  Can partner

         help him in clubs with some high club honors or possibly a singleton

         or void in clubs?  Again, partner has the option to bid either 3 or 4



    2. Offering a Choice


         Example 4:   Opener          LHO         Partner          RHO

                              -----------      -----------      -----------     -------------

                              1 heart          pass         1 spade        pass

                              1 notrump     pass         3 spades



         Partner’s skip to 3 spades tells opener that he has a fifth spade and

         that they also have enough HCP for game.  He gives the opener the

         choice to:


              a. Bid 4 spades if opener has 3 spades (he already has denied 4),


              b. Bid 3 notrump.




             ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game                 Oct 5, 2011

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Different Type Asking Bids

    2. Offering a Choice (continued)


         Other partner options with 5+ spades would be:


              a. With 6-9 HCP bid 2 spades.  This is not an asking bid.


              b. With 10-11 HCP bid 2 notrump.  The point count invite to 3

                  notump is more important than the 5th card in that suit.


              c. With 10+ HCP and a 6+ card major, partner should bid 4 of

                  his major.


Misunderstood Asking Bids


      Three key phrases to good bidding are Pay Attention, Pay Attention and Pay Attention.  Would you get the following example right?


Example 5:          Opener          LHO         Partner          RHO

                            -----------      -----------      -----------     -------------

                            1 club           pass          1 heart          pass

                            1 spade        pass          2 notrump     pass



      Is that skip to 2 notrump the standard 12-15 HCP hand?  Absolutely not!  With 12+ HCP and no major fit partner would have bid 3 notrump.

So the 2 notrump bid is a 10-11 HCP asking/inviting bid for a 3 notrump game.  With 14-15 HCP, opener should bid the game.  With less, he should pass.


Asking Bids to an Overcall


      When you overcall, you indicate 5+ cards in that suit, hopefully two of

the top four honors and 6-12 HCP (at 1 level) or 8-12 HCP (at 2 level).  If

partner makes a supporting bid; he is confirming that the pair has 8+ cards

in that suit.


             ACBL42 – Bidding: Inviting to Game                 Oct 5, 2011

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Asking Bids to an Overcall (continued)


      A single raise can be made with very few HCP.  If so, it is a nuisance

bid.  However, a jump raise of an overcalled major suit is a game invitation.  The supporting partner should have 12+ POINTS.  The overcaller should now recount his hand and with 12+ POINTS, bid game.


      When you make an immediate overcall of a one notrump opening bid by the opponents, the same texture is required; but now the HCP range is

8-14 HCP.  For example, 1 notrump followed by two spades.


      a. If the overcalled suit is a major, and

      b, LHO passes, and

      c. Partner bids 3 of that major  (10+ POINTS).

      d. It is an asking game invite in that major.

      e. If the overcall hand now has 14+ POINTS, he bids game.


Example 6:          Opener          LHO         NT Partner          RHO

                            -----------      -----------      ---------------     -------------

                            1 notrump   2 hearts        pass              3 hearts       

                            pass                 ?    


      This is a game invite.


Note that if the notrumper’s partner makes a bid, overcaller’s partner’s 3 level support bid is not a game invite,


Example 7:            Opener        LHO         NT Partner          RHO

                            -------------    -----------      ---------------     -------------

                            1 notrump   2 hearts       2 notrump       3 hearts       


      This is not a game invite.  Partner is just competing.  Note the HCP

count to this point.  It is one notrump (15), plus 2 hearts (8) and plus 2 notrump (8) for a total of 31 HCP.   The most partner could have is 9 HCP.  Every HCP the overcaller has more than 8 means that many less for partner.