I. Definition of the Word BALANCING
The term balancing means taking a bid other than Pass after two preceding passes. In other words, balancing is an attempt to prevent the opponents from playing the hand. For example,
1 Pass Pass and it is your bid
Saying Pass here would be the final decision of the auction, while bidding means there have to be at least 3 more bids. You’d better be right to pass!
I. Competing over 1NT only requires weak 2-bid strength
What are your side’s chances of making a game when an opponent opens 1NT? Well, there are only 24 high card points left, so even if your side has all of them, which is unlikely, some distribution points will be required to get your side up to the 26 points needed for game.
So if you bid over their 1NT, it is because you want to contest the part-score.
When the opponents open 1NT and everyone passes, your chances of getting a good score are not likely. If you can make 110 your way in a major and they go down one or make it, then you are wrong to let them play it. If they are making and you are down one non-vulnerable, you are also wrong to pass it out.
When it is their hand for game, you take away their ability to bid Stayman or transfer by bidding. Also if they double you, frequently the penalty they collect is smaller than the plus score they would get for their game.
Another recent question was …
Does a negative double of 1♦ after partner opens 1 show both majors?
The standard treatment is that a negative double of 1♦ after partner opens 1 shows both majors, usually 4-4. Longer and unequal lengths such as 5-4 or 4-5 are possible with a weak hand.
Here is why the double needs to be both majors: Due to the way Bridge scoring works, it is extremely important to find your eight-card major suit fits. In a competitive auction you need to do this as quickly as possible. This means that if you have only one major, even if it is only four-cards long, you must bid it right away so partner knows which one you have. When the opponents overcall 1♥, you can use a negative double to show four spades and bid 1 ♠ to show five because, unlike after a 1♦ overcall, there is no ambiguity as to which major your side holds.
One of the most effective strategies in competitive bidding is the preempt. When you have a long strong suit and not many points you can start the bidding at the 3 level with a 7-card suit and at the four level with an 8-card suit. This makes life very difficult for the opponents since they have lost the space needed in the bidding to find their own correct contract and most of the time doubling you will not be profitable enough.
Using the 2 level for pre-empting as well, makes it even harder on the opponents and only gives up bidding space on those very strong (22+) one suited hands that you almost never get. The bid of 2 clubs is used for all your hands of 22+ (except 21-22 balanced which are opened 2NT).
I. Getting the Strong Notrump Hand to Declare the Major
One of the primary objectives of bidding is to find an eight card major suit fit and play in it at the appropriate level. Jacoby transfer bids make it easier to describe hands with five and six card major suits when partner opens 1NT.
This is how it works, you bid the suit below your long major suit:
||“I have 5+ hearts”
||“I have 5+ spades”
Now partner bids your suit, 2 or 2 . This has transferred the declaring of the major to partner’s stronger hand. It is an advantage to have the hand with more high cards make the last play at trick one.
. When the Opponents Open
Annoying, isn’t it? You had just decided that you were going to open the bidding with 1, when your opponent opens 1 in front of you. What to do?
When both sides are bidding, your objective is to get the best score possible. Game is unlikely, unless there is a good distributional fit. Finding an eight card major suit fit is still very important, since playing in a major will usually produce the best score.
Having a hand you would have opened is no reason to bid now. Your strategy has changed. There are only four reasons to bid once the opponents have opened:
- Balance of the Power. Our side might have most of the strength.
- Lead Direction. It could be important to tell partner what to lead.
- Sacrifice. We may have a good sacrifice versus their game, slam, or partscore.
- Obstruction. Our bidding may make it hard for them to get to the right spot.
The tools at our disposal for competing once the opponents have bid a suit are:
- The no-trump overcall
- The simple suit overcall
- The take-out double
- The jump overcall
- Various 2 suited bids
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:
- Do we have an 8 card or longer major suit fit ?
- 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!
In Albuquerque, NM, we started a Bridge lessons in the schools program in the Fall of 2002 with five schools, three middle schools and two high schools. So far, it appears to be easier to get into the middle schools. They need after-school programs and can give us an hour and a half every week, while high schools seem to have more trouble fitting it in. One of our schools gets 30 minutes, the other 50 minutes but low attendance.
Anne Kanapilly, the “boss” of After School Initiative for the city of Albuquerque, visited Felix Reid’s middle school class. She was most impressed and has since put her thoughts in writing. Here is a quote from that:
“Eight eager learners sat around a card table learning the complex game of Bridge. The American Bridge Association provides enthusiastic teachers and is beginning to infiltrate the middle schools. The students were totally engaged in learning the game and with time not only will develop strategies for winning but are as well potentially acquiring a lifelong pastime.”
Read on for the step-by-step action plan we used.