BASIC BIDDING SUMMARY after 1 of a suit

I. What Is Your Objective?

One of the primary objectives of bidding is to find an eight card major suit fit to play in. The other main objective is to determine how many points the partnership has. These are the two questions you should ask yourself every time it is your turn to bid:

  1. Do we have an 8 card or longer major suit fit ?
  2. Do we have the 26 points needed for a game ?

Once either partner knows that there cannot be 26 points, it is that player’s job to stop in a makable contract. This usually means passing, or making the cheapest bid in a previously bid suit. Conversely, if you know your side has enough points for a game, do not make a bid that your partner can pass!

II. Opening the Bidding at the One Level

To open the bidding at the one level you must hold 13-21 points. With fewer points you pass, and with more you open at the 2 level. Here is the basic set of questions to ask yourself when deciding what to open:

1) Do I have 15-17 points in a balanced hand?

  • Open One Notrump..

2) Do I have a five card or longer suit?

  • Open your longest suit, with equal length suits open the higher ranking

3) Do I have a four card minor?

  • Open your highest ranking four card minor.

4) Do I have three clubs?

  • Open One Club. This is a convenient lie that partner knows you can use.

5) Then I must have a 4432 pattern (4? 4? 3? and 2? )

  • Open One Diamond, note that this is the only time that you bid One Diamond with fewer than four cards in the suit.

A four card holding is the normal minimum suit length for a biddable suit at Bridge.

III. Responding to One of a Suit

Remember our objective? The first question to ask yourself, if partner opens one of a major is “Do we have an eight card or longer major suit fit?” If so, you will be raising your partner right away and you need to recount your points using short suit distributional values (dummy points) rather than long suit points.

Otherwise the next question is “Do I have at least 6 points?” If the answer is yes, then you must respond to partner’s opening bid, because game is possible if partner is maximum. As responder, you need to categorize your hand by points, in order to determine what you can bid. Here is a chart that shows these point range categories:


Point Range


Game Prospects











When you have an eight card fit, raise your partner immediately and show your point range at the same time:


Point Range


Raise to the



2 level



3 level





What if you cannot raise partner’s major? Here are responder’s choices, in order:

1) Bid a new (major) suit at the 1 level. This says nothing about points yet:

  • Bid your longest suit first, unless you are minimum in points. Remember, minimums are too weak to bid new suits at the 2 level. If your longest suit requires a 2 level bid see section 3 below.
  • With two 5 card or longer suits, bid the higher ranking.
  • With only 4 card suits, bid up the line (nearest). Since partner can also bid 4 card suits, it will be easy to find your fit at a low level.

2) Raise partner’s minor with 5 card support

  • Minimum raises to 2,
  • Medium to 3,
  • Maximum has to get to game. So you respond 2NT, if balanced, otherwise you bid a new suit.

3) Otherwise:

  • A minimum hand that cannot bid a new suit at the one level or raise, bids the catch all 1NT bid (6-10 points any distribution therefore not necessarily balanced)
  • Jump to 2NT with 13-15 balanced
  • Jump to 3NT with 16-18 balanced
  • With 11+ bid a new suit at the 2 level, minors can be as few as 4 cards but majors must be 5 or more cards.

IV. OPENER’S REBIDS after the response to a one of a suit opening

Remember the objectives when deciding what to do over your partner’s response. What do you know about your possible major suit fits and your partnership points? If you know that the partnership cannot have 26 points, you want to pass or make a sign off bid. If you have found an eight card major fit, that’s the suit you want to have for a trump suit. Here is a chart showing the three categories to divide your opening hand into:


Point Range


opposite a minimum raise

When raising responder




2 level




3 level







1) Is there an 8 card major suit fit? The priorities in order are: raise partner’s major, bid a new major at the one level, or raise yourself . With four card support for partner’s suit or a six card suit of your own:

  • Raise to 2 with a minimum
  • Raise to 3 with a medium strength hand
  • Raise to game with a maximum. When raising a minor this can mean bidding 3NT.

2) Is your hand balanced? If so then:

  • With a minimum (13-14), rebid the cheapest number of NT or pass partner’s NT response.
  • With 18-19, jump in NT or raise partner’s NT bid 1 level.

3) Your hand must be unbalanced, therefore bid a new suit if possible

  • A minimum hand can only bid a new suit when it can be bid below 2 of the suit that was opened. Therefore sometimes a minimum hand has to rebid a 5 card suit, usually this will be a minor.
  • A medium hand makes its natural rebid of its second suit. Note that a reverse, (bidding a new suit higher than 2 of the suit opened, for example 1? 1? 2?) promises at least medium strength values.
  • A maximum hand needs to force to game. Therefore a maximum must either jump in a new suit (strong jump shift) or reverse and then follow with another strong bid or game.


VII. RESPONDER’S REBIDS in an auction that started with one of a suit

By the fourth bid of the auction, it is usually possible to place the contract or make a bid that lets partner place it. Responder first figures out what point range Opener has shown.




Point Range

Hand Category




A new suit


Minimum or Medium






Medium or Maximum

Jump in an old suit



Jump in a new suit



Responder then adds the minimum and maximum points for Opener to their own point count. This determines whether game is possible, and therefore what to do next.

Note that when opener has rebid 1NT, responder’s bids are similar to the bids after a 1NT opener. That is to say, suits at the 2 level are to play and jumps to the 3 level in new suits are forcing, while 2NT and jumps in old suits are invitational.

When Opener bids a third suit or rebids her first suit, then responder asks the following questions before making a rebid:

  1. Not enough points for game?Then look for a safe place to play:
    • Pass partner’s last bid
    • Make the minimum bid in an old suit
    • Do not bid 1NT with less than 8 points. It won’t be a good spot to play.
  2. Maybe there is a game?
    • If minimum(8-10) keep the auction open with a descriptive bid:
      • Raise partner’s last bid with a fit
      • Bid the minimum number of an old suit
      • Bid 1NT with the unbid suit(s) stopped
    • With a medium hand make an invitational bid:
      • Jump raise partner’s major with a fit.
      • Bid a new major at the one level ( 1? – 1? – 1? – 1?)
      • Jump in a previously bid suit
      • Otherwise bid 2NT, If partner did not bid NT this promises stoppers in the unbid suit(s). This is invitational even when it is not a jump.
  3. Game is certain? Then either bid a game or make a forcing bid:
    • Bid game in a known eight card major suit fit.
    • Bid a four card major that has not yet been bid.
    • Bid game in NT with the unbid suit(s) well stopped.
    • Otherwise, the only forcing bid is a new suit. Bid a new suit even with only three cards in it, when you don’t know what game to play in. Responders new suits are always forcing unless Opener’s last bid was 1NT.

73 thoughts on “BASIC BIDDING SUMMARY after 1 of a suit

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      As Eric said …
      Also do not look for excuses NOT to open! More hands get promoted to 13 than demoted to less 🙂 That being said, I did pass a 13 point hand once that re-evaluated to about 10 points. Once in the last 40 years!

  1. Harold Minus

    When do you support responders bid of one of a major after one of a minor with three and an unbalanced hand ? Do you use 2nt as an asking bid ? If you do what are the responses ? Thank you

  2. Morris

    As south I open one diamond with 14points and 3 3 4 3 distribution. West bids one heart. North and east pass. Can I bid notation with a heart stopper?

  3. Kitty Cooper Post author

    No you cannot. Bidding 1NT in pass-out seat shows a 2NT rebid,18-19. So your choices are making a take-out double or passing it out. Since partner passed, either they have a poorish hand or a penalty double of 1 so look at your hand and judge whether to reopen or let West play there.
    If partner had responded 1 and East had bid 1 then you could bid 1NT with 14 or a good 13 and a spade stopper.

    1. kitty cooper

      I am not understanding your question. Opening bidder needs more like 13 points to open. Do you mean a preempt? Then he needs more than 5 cards. I cannot think of what auction you are asking about so try again.

  4. Sally Bollingsworth

    Hi Kitty

    Can responder mention a major suit at the 1 level with only 4 cards in the major?

    Or does “playing 5 card majors” mean that to mention a major suit you always need 5 cards in the suit, whether responder or opener? (apart from calling stayman or a take out double where you might only have 4 cards – or 3 in the case of a take out double).

    Thanks so much

  5. kitty cooper

    Sally –
    Of course responder will mention a 4 card major at the one level. How else would you find your 4-4 fits?

    To quote what it says above about responder’s first bid – at the one level “With only 4 card suits, bid up the line (nearest). Since partner can also bid 4 card suits, it will be easy to find your fit at a low level.”

  6. Kitty Cooper

    Pat – it depends. probably one spade. You do not say if the 12 points are 10 high card points plus 2 for the long spades or twelve points in just high cards. If the latter, definitely one spade. If the former, it depends on he hand structure as to whether to open one spade or a weak two bid.
    Use losing trick count to decide. 7 losers is a one bid.

  7. Louise O'Reilly

    Your opponent opens one of a suit and our partner doubles. third person doubles, are is it a demand for you to bid even if you have a bust hand?

  8. Kitty Cooper

    Yes it is a demand.
    Think of it this way, if you pass they will be playing their contract doubled which is not a good thing.
    The only time you would pass is with a long and strong holdiing in their suit like KQJ109z

  9. Guy Germer

    On a separate topic, there is not much comment on the internet regarding opener’s rebid following an overcall by RHO. For example, opener bids 1D, P, 1S by partner, 2H by RHO. If opener now rebids 3C, what does that show?
    Extra distribution or shape? A big hand? A standard rebid if there had been no overcall? Is the 3C rebid forcing for one round or to game, etc. I’m assuming Double is 3-card support for spades. Also assuming Pass is either nothing to show or hearts hoping for a reopening double by responder.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      Guy –
      Bidding at the three level always shows extras, shape or high cards. Not forcing just highly invitational to game.

      More advanced players use a convention called good bad 2NT here to distinguish between a hand that just wants to compete in something (bids 2NT) as opposed to a real three level bid but that is above the level of this site which is for beginners and teachers.

      Check out for more advanced thoughts on bidding or for convention listings

  10. Nancy

    Opener bids 1 diamond.
    Responder bids 1 heart
    Opener bids 2 diamonds.
    What does responder say with 12 points, 5 hearts, and no diamond fit?

  11. Kitty Cooper

    If Responder has a second suit at least 4 cards long, he would bid it otherwise either 2nt to invite game or more likely 3nt if the hand wants to be in game. 12 points plus a five card suit makes 13 points.
    However if responder is missing a black suit stopper, he can bid the other black suit to let partner bid 3NT. Notice that since opener rebid diamonds he has denied 4 spades so responder can bid spades with just a stopper and less than 4 of them.

  12. Jane Frick

    Opener bids l club with three clubs, 3 diamonds (KQx) 4 spades, 4 hearts with just 13 points. Opponent doubles, partner bids 1 diamond. What does Opener bid now? Should Opener bid one of a major suit with only 4? Should Opener pass? Should Opener support diamonds, not knowing how many points partner has as partner was forced to bid?

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      No, with less than 6 points responder passes. With a touch more, responder can bid 1NT which says nothing about being balanced, it just denies the values to bid at the two level. Later (if there is a later), responder bids her suit.

  13. Kitty Cooper Post author

    That’s 14 cards … so only two diamonds or only one four card major?
    This is clearly covered above by “The priorities in order are: raise partner’s major, bid a new major at the one level, …” Perhaps the issue was not realizing that bidding a new major only guarantees four cards ?

  14. Kitty Cooper

    Responder always needs 5 cards the first time he mentions a suit at the 2 level.
    Over that 2 bid, double is usually used for takeout with that 4 card suit and either spades as well or some support for s

  15. Ron

    Bidding, East Pass, South opens 1 heart, responder bids 1 spade, opener then bids 1NT – back to responder who now bids 2c – Is 2 clubs forcing after the 1NT by opener or is it a preference bid meaning two suits no interest in game?

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      In basic beginning bridge 2 is not forcing because the notrump bidder has limited their hand, so responder has to jump in a new suit to create a force.

      More advanced players use new minor forcing after 1NT to ask for three card support in which case 2 is artificial and forcing one round. If opner had opened 1 then responder would use 2 instead to ask for 4 or 3 (opener responds up the line). For more about this convention try

  16. Raju

    Partner bids 1 diamond. I have 4 spades A J 9 4 , 5 Hearts k 10 7 5 4 2 and total 10 points, which should be my response

  17. Sue Cold

    I opened 1 diamond with 19 points and a pretty balanced hand. My partner responded 1 heart. I had 4 card heart support so jumped to 4 hearts, figuring that 19+6 points would make game. My partner passed with 14 points, saying that mybid was a shutout. Is that true? Should I have bid 2 NT first? Thank you!

    1. Kitty Cooper

      With 10 points (actually 12 if you count 2 for the six card suit) you have enough to bid on the 2 level, so you would usually show your longest suit first by bidding 2
      However if you already gave yourself 2 points for your long suit, then you can choose to consider it too weak for that action and bid 1 instead
      bridge is not a game of absolutes so look at the hand, and either upgrade or downgrade. A void in partner’s suit is a definite downgrade while high catprds I your long suits are an upgrade.

  18. Maureen

    Opening 1diamond with 5d 3c 2h and 3 s partner responds 1h. What should my next bid be. Total points 13
    I assume 1nt would be incorrect as I would be showing 15-16 points.

    1. Kitty Cooper

      Maureen –
      A 1NT rebid Is correct. This rebid shows a minimum opening hand not the 15-17 that an opening 1NT bid shows. Do not confuse an opening NT bid with the rebid in NT.

  19. Joan

    Played bridge today – I opened 1 D, other player bid 2 S, my partner bid 3 Clubs, my hand was not great so I passed, then find out that her response of 3 C was meant to indicate a preemptive bid, but she would have to bid 3 of any suit because the bid of 2 spades precluded anything else. How should she have indicated to me that the club bid was preemptive?

    1. Kitty Cooper

      when your opponent bid 2 they were preempting which serves the purpose of taking away your room. Your partner would have had to jump to 4 to show a preemptive hand.e
      As you know when she bid a new suit, it was forcing. In other words, you were not supposed to pass it.

    1. Kitty Cooper

      If you are playing strong two bids, then yes you must bid. Some systems have a special bid in response to show a bust.

  20. Flora Samuels

    My husband tells me I MUST re-bid if he bids a new suit.
    If I have 6 points … I responded to his opening with my best suit. If he re-bids and we have no match, am I bound to respond …. perhaps with NT?

  21. Kitty Cooper

    You never have to do anything your husband says 🙂 I don’t!
    In all seriousness, unless he jumps in a new suit, his bid is not forcing on you and Pass is fine with 6-7 points and a preference for his new suit. Else you can go back to his first suit or rebid your own 5+ card suit.

    Please show him the section on Responder’s rebids above which starts with “Not enough points for game?Then look for a safe place to play:
    Pass partner’s last bid
    Make the minimum bid in an old suit
    Do not bid 1NT with less than 8 points. It won’t be a good spot to play.”

    1. Kitty Cooper

      That is not enough information Desai. It depends on the auction. If I thought 3NT was the right game for us to play, I would not be deterred by having a singleton.





  23. Kitty Cooper

    Your partner’s bid is in response to your bid BUT the requirements change when there is an intervening bid. He is no longer required to respond with 6+ points because you will get another bid. Therefore his 1NT shows a stopper and about 8-10 points. His suit bids are unchanged but he does not have to strain to bid one.

  24. Kitty Cooper

    Probably only 2H … It depends on the hand. If there are any “upgrades” bid 3H but if a balanced nothing special 15 then just 2H

  25. Rick

    If yours is not the opening bid but you wish to bid what is the minimum hand you need ? I understand you need at least 5 cards in the same suite and 6 points. Is that correct ?

  26. Barbara

    If opener bids 1 spade and responder bids 2 hearts, is that promising 4 or 5 hearts? (assuming no intervening bid) Thanks!

  27. Keith Turnbull

    Hi Kitty. I open 1♣️. Opposition over calls 1♦️. My partner calls 2♠️. My partner has 17 points!!
    Should she jump shift or go slower??
    ( I left her in 2♠️ as I thought she was calling a weak jump overcall.)
    What’s your view please

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      Hi Keith –
      It is standard to play this jump as weak in competition. Many prefer to always play it weak but that would have to be the partnership agreement

  28. Stephen Feld

    Hi. If I iopen in 4th position one club and partner has four diamonds and four hearts and ten points, does he respond one diamond or one heart, knowing I could pass?

  29. Donald Helmich

    Hi KItty:

    I was told that if partner opens one club and that if I have 5 points or less that I should bid one diamond which shows a ‘bust’ hand.

    Have you every heard of this convention??


    Don H

  30. Kitty Cooper

    No that is not a normal convention.
    However, many players bid 1 with a poor hand 6-7 points and no major to bid and at least 3 diamonds. The idea being that the hand is too weak to bid 1NT and you plan to pass partner’s next bid unless they force to game.

    1. Donald Helmich


      Thanks for your response on the one diamond response to partner’s opening one bid.

      So this diamond bid does indicate 6-7 points and not 5 points or less as someone explained to me. Your answer makes sense to me.


  31. Donald Helmich


    I was discussing a l NT opener with a bridge player and he will bid l NT with 15-17 with only three suits stopped. (I prefer 16-18, but that is another issue)

    That 1 NT bid without all suits stopped has got me in trouble. Responder may bid 2 NT or 3 NT (game) or other bidding may arrive at 3 NT (game) and then I go down because opponents lead and re-lead the non-stopped suit to take bunch of tricks off the top.

    What is you thinking on bidding 1 NT as opener without all suits stopped ? ( I play stopper in a given suit is A or Kx or Qxx or Jxxx.)


  32. Kitty Cooper

    Hi Donald,
    Sorry for the delayed response. I do not worry about stoppers so much. It is important to get across the balanced nature of your hand with better than minimum high card strenght.
    However I do subsribe to the double flaw theory, so never two unstopped suits or a small doubleton with a 5 card major or 6 card minor or a 54 pattern.

  33. Barrie Upton

    I open the bidding with one of a suit, say 1D, the left hand opposition bids one of a suit, say 1S and my partner responds 1NT. We are playing weak nt (12-14). What can I assume his point count to be please.

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      Barrie –
      Traditionally a response of 1NT in competition is 8-11 points with a stopper in the opponents suit. Modern players tend to cap that at 10 points and jump to 2NT with 11-12.

  34. John

    Partner opens with one club,RHO bids one diamond, I have 10 points,square hand, no diamond stopper, can I bid one no trump, or does that imply a diamond stopper.

  35. Roy Andrews

    If an opening bid is 1NT, what are the partner’s proper responces at different strength levels?

    Thank you for your anticipated reply.


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