What should I bid? (January 2015)


What should I bid? (January 2015)

The best submission for January came from Sid Reynolds. He wins a voucher of $30 funded by TBIB, toward any purchase made at the Bridge Shop or Paul Lavings Bridge Books.

I have two problem hands about Negative Free Bids (NFB):



Sitting as East, the auction goes:

W        N         E          S
1       1        ?

What to bid?

If I make a negative double, then I may miss a 5-3 heart fit if South bids 2 or 3. If I Dbl-then-bid-hearts later, that would be game forcing. If I bid 2 (NFB), partner may think I’m weaker. I can’t bid 3 as that would show at least six hearts. What should I do?



Sitting as East again, the auction goes:

W        N         E          S
1       2       ?

What to bid?

If I Dbl, that would show both majors (or 4-3 majors if I must). I can’t bid 2 (NFB), and I can’t bid 2NT as I have no club stopper. I also can’t bid 3 as that is a cue raise. What should I do?


Hi Sid,

For your first hand, I would prefer to bid 2. Negative Free Bids aren’t always very weak, I would say they are around 5-9(10) points, so I would consider 2 here as a maximum. Not all is lost, because if 2 doesn’t end the auction, you can still come back in with a double announcing that you have a maximum hand that wants to compete.

You can also try a negative double if you want, but when you face a competitive auction such as this (especially when your opponents have spades), it is more important to get your suit (length) across than to “describe your points” (strength). The main reason is because if the next opponent does bid (say) 2, you would be better placed had you shown the length of your suit rather than a murky negative double.

On the second hand: This is one of those tricky auctions. Textbook tells us that a negative double here ‘promises’ both majors, but as we can see, we can’t always have everything. If the auction was 1-(1)-X this definitely shows both majors, but 1-(2)-X, often people play this just as “values”. Typically, you will either have (a) a normal hand with both majors, or (b) a hand with only one major suit but also with diamond support (so if opener chooses your other major, you can still correct this back to his diamonds).

Hope that helps.

Thanks Andy.


On a related note, someone on the internet said that in an auction of 1-(2)-?, a 2 bid by responder now is best used as an artificial bid, and not a weak raise (which can be done by jumping to 3 instead, not too hard if you play inverted minors).

So how about:

W         N          E
1        2        ?

To keep NFB, and GF 5+suits, and not overloading the Double, bids by responder here are:

2 = NFB, 6-10pts, 6 or good 5
3 = GF 13+pts, 5+ (in case N was wanting to raise/sacrifice)
3 = cue-raise = 10+pts, fit
3 = weak raise (like in inverted minors)
X = old both majors
2* = 11+pts, 4+major (not both, else X)

1        1        ?

To make it compatible with the above

2, 3, 3, cue-raise unchanged
X = old 4+, 6+pts
2* = 11-12pts, 5+ (not 4, else X)

1        2        ?

Similar but

2 = raise
X = 8+pts, 4+ (if 5 then 11-12pts)


Cheers, Sid


Hi Sid,

As it always is, to incorporate some artificiality, you will need to give up something and have to weigh the pros and the cons.

What you mentioned is certainly something that is playable, but of course it is at the cost of the single raise. It is up to you and your partner to decide whether you think it’s worth it or not. I can’t claim what is 100% the best methods, but I can analyse some of the points for you.

The method of giving up the 2 simple raise, you have already outlined the pros as it gains you another bid to accurately show other hand types. I will now let you in on what the cons of giving up the 2 simple raise are:

After 1-(2)-?  or 1-(1)-?

Giving up the 2 bid can be dangerous. I’m not talking about the 2 in itself, but the problem you may have if you can’t bid 2 and instead have to ‘needlessly’ jump to 3 with 6-9 points with support. Sure it might be no problem if you have a 2254 or 3145 distribution or the like, but what will you do with the ordinary 3244 or 3343 balanced shapes? Also, when you are vulnerable, it seems risky to jump to 3 even if you have a maximum of 9 points. Down 2 vulnerable of -200 can be quite costly, even in IMPs scoring with your table -200 and your teammates -90 which is already 7 IMPs. If it’s matchpoints, -200 is also known as the “kiss of death”. Maybe on some hands you might decide to pass rather than take the risk to jump to 3, but now if you have some values say 7-8 points and you are constrained to pass, partner (opener) may be in danger of subsequent bidding (or the lack of it) as you might have nothing for your pass.

Maybe you think that at not-vulnerable, you can jump to 3 with some of those balanced hands. Now imagine you are at favourable vulnerability (not vul vs. vul opps) and your partner jumps to 3. As the opener, you may now feel uncomfortable not knowing if you want to sacrifice against the opponent’s vulnerable game because partner could be a balanced 2344 shape, or partner could have an unbalanced 3154 shape etc., essentially, you will end up guessing a lot.

Another danger (although of less importance, but still important nonetheless) is that the artificial 2 bid may be prone to forgetfulness as it looks natural. One of my big beliefs is that if either partner is not a systems-person where one might have a >20% chance to forget, then you are better off not playing the gadget as it is not worth the chance that someone will forget. (I’ve been there before where my partner had forgotten twice in one tournament!)

Now, I’m not saying your proposed methods are bad, I’m just trying to give you the whole picture of what you might be giving up and allow you to weigh the benefits vs. costs. It is always about trade-offs, and it is up to you and your partner to see what trade-off you are willing to make.



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