Mike’s Bidding Quiz


What do you need to double when the opponents have opened and raised?

Is it dangerous to enter the auction in such cases?

You will often find yourself in fourth seat with a decent hand after an opponent has opened and his partner has raised his suit to the two level.

Before discussing what to do, I would like to note that this bidding situation should be viewed much as a bull views a red flag. If you have any excuse to enter the auction, you should do so.

Let’s see some examples applied to the following auction:

West North East South
1 Pass 2 ?

1. ♠ A Q 10 7 6   8 7 2   3   ♣ K 10 7 5

See Mike's Advice

Bid 2♠. You know a lot more on this bidding sequence than you do on many others. To wit:

East has a weak hand. They have a fit. Partner is short in hearts (maybe even a singleton). You can bid at the two level.

RULE: When they bid and raise a suit, you should try hard to compete if you can bid at the two level or if you can make a takeout double. If you have to bid a suit at the three level, use
extreme caution. You are a trick higher — and there are other dangers. Be aggressive about two-level overcalls, but cautious at the three level.

By bidding 2♠, you help your partner with the lead, and if he has a better-than-normal hand for spades he will bid something. Your partner should recognize that you are being aggressive, so he should give your bids a little less respect than normal.

2. ♠ Q 8 7 3   9   A K 6 2   ♣ J 9 8 7

See Mike's Advice

Double. This is not a full opening bid, and if your right-hand opponent had opened 1, you would pass. The reason you can double 2 is that their auction tells you that bidding is likely to be a very good idea. Your side usually has a fit. Doubling will find it.

Very important: If you pass, it is possible that they will pass it out in 2. I assure you that if your opponents find a fit and you let them play at the two level, you will get a bad result. That is guaranteed. As you gain experience, you will recognize that some auctions suggest you come into the bidding, others that you remain silent. This auction is a siren calling you to enter. Listen to it.

3. ♠ 7 6 3   Q 8   K Q 7   ♣ A J 8 6 3

See Mike's Advice

Pass. Remember, when they bid and raise, you should look for any sane excuse to double or to bid at the two level. Bidding at the three level is dangerous. This hand has bad distribution and a poor suit. If your club suit was the spade suit, you could bid 2♠. Bidding 3♣ is terribly dangerous.

4. ♠ 6 2   3   A J 8 7 3   ♣ K Q 8 7 3
See Mike's Advice

Bid 2NT, unusual, showing at least 5–5 in the minors and a fair hand. You should not bid 2NT with a poor hand because you are not immune from a penalty double.

5. ♠ A 7 3   7 3   K Q 8 3   ♣ K J 8 5
See Mike's Advice

Double. You have only three spades, which is a flaw. Some books say you need four cards in the unbid major or majors to make a takeout double. This is close to the truth but is not correct as written. These books really meant to say that you would like to have four cards in the unbid major or majors. If you have only three, a double should be considered. You have a full opening bid, so doubling 2 is correct. Who knows? Your partner may bid a minor suit. He may have five spades. What often happens is that your double gets them to the three level, which is better for you than letting them play at the two level. More good things can happen than bad things.

6. ♠ K Q J 8 7 3   3   A Q 5 2   ♣ K 7
See Mike's Advice

Bid 3♠. This is a bidding trick you may not know: do not use weak jump overcalls when they raise a suit. It is better to play that a jump shows a hand worth around 17–19 points with a good six-card suit. The idea is that your 3♠ bid shows extra length and good values. Partner, knowing you have a six-card or longer suit, will be well informed about what his hand is worth.

Note: If you double and then bid a suit, you promise a similarly good hand, but only a five-card suit.

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