Lesson 1: Major Suit Raises

Raising partner’s major suit is a priority, because…
• 4♥ and 4♠ are excellent game contracts, often safer than 3NT, 5♣ or 5♦.
• Once the partnership has agreed where to play, the focus can be on how high: partscore, game, or slam.
• When there’s a trump suit, the trick-taking potential increases.

When responder has three+cards in opener’s major, show support. ‘Support with support’. If the opening bid is 1♥ or 1♠, the partnership is off to a good start. Responder knows opener has 13-20 points, and a five-card or longer suit. Responder’s role is to describe the strength and distribution
Decide what category the hand represents.
Good features of hands:
(1) Aces and kings, rather than queens and jacks. (Ace – 4; King – 3; Queen – 2; Jack – 1). But many feel that aces are undervalued and queens and jacks overvalued.
(2) High cards concentrated in long suits
(3) 10’s and 9’s to fill the suits
(4) Extra trumps
(5) Shortages in side suits
Apply your own judgement, and make a bid to reflect it.
Let’s compare two hands after partner has opened 1♥. They are both valued as 10 high-card points, yet the second hand is stronger.

Hand 1. ♠Q74 ♥J63 ♦KJ72 ♣QJ2

Hand 2. ♠942 ♥AT9 ♦863 ♣KQJT

Hand 1 has 10 points, but the trump support is poor, the hand is balanced, and the high cards are mostly queens and jacks.

Hand 2 also has 10 points, but the trump support is excellent. The high cards include an ace and king, and the club honours are together.
Dummy Points  Extra tricks are available when declarer can trump losers in the dummy. To accomplish this, dummy needs trumps and a short side suit. The more trumps in dummy, and the shorter the side suit, the better the hand for taking tricks.

Responder decides into which of four main categories the hand belongs:
 Preemptive Raise. Weak hands with good trump support (0 – 6 pts and five trumps) fall into this category. Responder’s raise (e.g. 1♥ p 4 ♥) is designed to make it more difficult for the opponents to enter the auction.
• Single Raise. (1♥ p 2♥) (6 – 9/or a bad 10 pts). Opener needs extra strength or distribution to be interested in anything other than a partscore.
• Limit – Invitational – Raise. (e.g. 1♥ p 3♥) (10 – 12 pts) Opener needs very little extra to be in a game contract.
 Forcing Raise (e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p etc…) (13+ pts). The partnership is headed for at least game, and slam is a possibility.