Overcalls: A Wrap Up

Lesson Notes

Overcalls: A Wrap Up 

While it's a wonderful idea to enter the auction when the opponents have started, the bid you make should describe your hand clearly so that partner knows what to do next. 

A "normal" overcall shows around 7 - 17 points, with a five card suit or longer. You might have a good hand with defensive values in other suits, but the suit you overcall in good, with some of the top honours. So you start at the lowest level, then bid at the next level if your hand is good enough to bid again etc. This would show something like:

♠ AK10954          West   North  East     You
♥ J4                                             1♥       1♠
♦ AK7                    2♥     Pass     Pass    2♠

Whereas a preemptive (jump overcall) would look nothing like the hand above, and partner would know the difference when they hear you jump a level or two in the first place. This would show something like: 

♠ AKJ10954          West   North  East     You
♥ 4                                              1♥         3♠
♦ 10873                

Two -Suited overcalls are great, so don't disappoint partner by having the wrong hand. If you say you've got two suits, you need 5-5 shape or even better. Michaels cue bids are popular these days and would show something like:

♠ AJ1094              West   North  East     You
♥ AJ864                                       1♦        2♦
♦ 73                
♣7                         A Michaels Cuebid, shows both majors.

Getting in over their 1NT openings is also terrific, and you need a convention to show a single-suited hand, two-suited hands and a strong hand which would make a penalty double. There are many conventions dealing with this, and Cappelletti is as good as any. You need around 10 points to come into the bidding after 1NT, and you can relax those requirements a bit if you are in the balancing seat. For example: 

♠ AJ1094              West   North  East     You
♥ AJ864                1NT     Pass    Pass    2♦
♦ 73                
♣7                         Playing Capelletti, shows both majors

What does partner do when they hear your overcall? They will assess what you've told them, and make the most effective bid possible. They might make a single raise, or a preemptive jump raise, or prefer one of the two suits you've shown. The number of trumps they hold is very important as to how far they bid, and the vulnerability needs to be considered too. 

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