Mike’s Bidding Quiz


1. A 14-point hand is very good. Why can’t you double and bid notrump with that hand if you have a stopper in the suit that was opened?
2. What are the dangers regarding partner’s possible responses?

You may survive a bad bidding decision — for example, making a takeout double with 14 high-card points and then bidding notrump — but that doesn’t make it a good auction. In fact, coming out of a bad auction without a disaster is even worse than being punished for your sins. You may not realize you have done wrong.

Here are a couple of examples to make my point.

1. ♠ A J 9 2  10 4   A 10   ♣ K Q 5 4 3

WEst North East South
1 Dbl
3 3 Pass 3NT
All Pass

Would you make any of the calls that South made? Do you expect to make 3NT? What kind of hand do you expect North to have? Write down an example of a 3 bid by North.

See Mike's Advice

South has bid miserably on this hand. His double was bad because he does not have heart support. It would have been better for South to bid 2♣ and possibly to bid spades later.

When North bid 3, South had the usual decision to make — leave partner in a bad contract or bid something that also rated to be bad.

North does not promise much for his 3 bid. He needs around 8 support points to bid 3. Here is an example hand that he might have:

♠ K 8 3  Q J 8 7 3   8 2  ♣ J 9 7

North is expecting South to have some heart support, and if he has it, the North hand is worth around 9 points in support of hearts. If South bids 3NT, North will tend to pass it, and that contract will go down a lot. The defenders will lead diamonds and take four diamond tricks (at least) plus the ♣A and the top two hearts. 3NT will go down at least three tricks.

This is one bad auction you won’t survive. A lot of time you will be doubled in the bargain.

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

WEst North East South
1 ?

Here are five important questions. Do you double 1? Do you bid 1NT? If you double, what do you bid if partner bids 1? If you double, what do you bid if partner bids 1♠? If you double, what do you bid if your partner bids 2♣?

See Mike's Advice

This hand is a genuine trap. If you double and your partner bids a major, you are happy. If you double and your partner bids notrump, you are happy. If you double and your partner bids clubs, you are unhappy. The question is whether enough good things can happen to make up for the occasional bad things. Let’s continue for a moment.

A 1NT overcall is not a bad call. You have the needed points and you have a balanced hand and you have two diamond stoppers. There is nothing inherently wrong with a 1NT bid. The bad side of the bid is that your partner may have four cards in a major and choose to pass 1NT. It may be that your side can make a few tricks in a major suit but cannot make 1NT.

The point of the answers to the first two questions is that nothing is perfect. The best laid plans can go astray if you make reasonable bids at unlucky moments.

If partner bids 1 or 1♠, you are home. You have found a fit, and that is always good. You have just enough to raise to the two level.

When partner bids 2♣, is not a good moment. The correct action is to pass. Your partner did not bid a major suit, so there is a fair chance that he has five clubs. Pass 2♣ and hope that the result is only mildly bad. Of particular note is that if you bid over 2♣, things will get worse. If you bid 2 or 2♠, you will be showing a longer suit and a much better hand.

If you bid 2NT, you will be showing at least 2 or 3 additional high-card points. Your partner might put you in game with 7 points and you know that game won’t make.

You can see that this hand offers temptations, and whatever you do can work. Just be aware that the world is not perfect. If you double and get to a bad contract, just chalk it up to bad luck. If you bid 1NT and miss a major-suit partscore, just chalk it up to bad luck. Your luck won’t always be bad.