Lesson 2: Responder’s Role

Responder’s decision must be whether the partnership will:

  • Bid constructively, trying to find the best contract, or
  • Bid preemptively, trying to stop the opponents finding their best contract.

Responding After a 1NT Opening
Bid constructively. With 0 – 7, be satisfied with the best partscore. With 8-9, move towards game. With 10-15, insist on game. Stayman and Transfers are helpful.

Responding after a Major-Suit Opening with Support 
With a fit, decide which category the hand belongs in:

  • single raise (6 – 9)
  • limit raise (10 – 12)
  • forcing raise (13+)
  • preemptive raise (0 – 6)

Use judgement when deciding which raise to make, and although normally a single raise is 6 – 9 points, you might have a poor 10, and treat it as a single raise, or a good 10, and make a limit raise, eg ♠Q763 ♥J84 ♦QJ9 ♣KJ3 If partner opens 1♠, you might raise this to 2♠ only, because this 10 count is not a good one. It's aceless, a boring shape, and has Q's and J's.  

The modern style is to consider your trumps in partner’s suit as to which raise you make. The better the trump fit, the more aggressive the partnership can be in deciding how high to bid or whether to compete.
Jump raises show four or more trumps. Here partner opens 1♥ and you would bid 3♥, showing four card support, and 11 total points, 8 in high cards, and three for the diamond singleton ♠K863 ♥Q975 ♦4 ♣KT75 If partner opens 1♥, you would make a limit raise to 3♥ with this hand, showing four trumps.  This hand, more points, but only three-card support, should start with 1♠ over 1♥, and raise hearts later: ♠KJ76 ♥A94 ♦842 ♣K53

Forcing Raise
These also distinguish between three and four card support: ♠KQ83 ♥952 ♦AJ75 ♣K3. Partner opens 1♠.  Your response would be 2NT (Jacoby) showing a forcing raise and four trumps.

♠Q93 ♥K762 ♦4 ♣AQ875. This time you hold three spades and 11 high card points and again partner opens 1♠
This is a forcing raise as well, but with only three-card support you should start with 2♣ and raise spades later.

Responding after a Preemptive Opening
Focus on the number of tricks and the number of trumps.
(1) Count the sure tricks, and if enough for game, bid it. The weak two bidder will have around five tricks. A weak three – six tricks.
(2) If there are not enough tricks for game, bid to the level of combined trumps. (Law of Total Tricks), e.g.♠QT643 ♥KT52 ♦9 ♣J86

Your partner opens 2♥ showing 6 -9 points and six hearts. Jump immediately to 4♥ on this hand. The opponents will be able to make a slam in either minor here, and you might keep them out of the auction with the preemptive jump.

Responder’s Role after a Takeout Double – with Support
A jump to the three or four level should be preemptive and weak, showing four or five trumps.
With a good hand and support, either redouble or bid 2NT to show four card or longer, support.
It’s the same idea after an overcall, show the number of trumps you hold. If you’re weak, jump a level or two, but if stronger (limit raise or better), bid the opponent’s overcall – cue raise.
After an overcall without support, make a double, called a negative double It generally shows support for the unbid suits, and denies a fit for partner e.g. You hold ♠32 ♥KJ84 ♦AQ652 ♣T8, and partner opens 1♣. The next hand preempts with 2♠. Your best response is to X, showing the other major, and enough points to bid at that level. It also denies both a club fit, and a stopper for no trumps. If opener held ♠A4 ♥AT95 ♦K4 ♣KQJ64, they would then bid 3/4♥.

Tips for Responding

  1. Decide whether it is a constructive or obstructive auction
  2. Consider the Competitive Guideline (Law of Total Tricks) when the auction becomes competitive
  3. Be ready to use the responder’s double – the negative double – when an opponent overcalls