Major Suit Raises: Single Raises
Responder plays an extremely important role in the bidding at any time, but particularly when partner has opened in a major. Responder’s role is to describe two features of the hand: the strength and distribution. After the opening bid, responder makes a decision about exactly what their hand is worth for partner. When they have a fit in a major (three+ cards because partner is known to have five+ to open 1♥/♠), it's generally a good idea to show the fit straight away. Their main decision is whether to make a "single" raise or a "limit" raise, or perhaps a game forcing raise.
These are known as constructive raises, because opener will now decide whether to try for game based on the information they've just been given, and they will expect to make it if shape and points work together. The opposite of a constructive raise is a preemptive raise, where responder holds a weak hand with a lot of trumps. Then they will bid to a high level (usually game) when the deal might belong to the opponents, and they are trying to stop the opponents from finding their best contract.
Single Raise. (6 – 10). Such a raise is made on hands with trump support but minimal values, where opener will need extra strength or shape to be interested in anything but a partscore. Responder is showing three or four trumps. The flatter the hand, the more you will need plenty of points in opener's hand to bid any more.
Opener will view a single raise as a weak hand with trump support, and they will need a strong hand to take the bidding higher. If they bid three of their suit (e.g. 1♥ p 2♥ p 3♥) this often shows a hand with six trumps rather than five. Responder will go to game only if they have a 8-10 rather than 6-7 points.
If opener goes straight to game they will have at least 18 points and can add their points to responder's 6 -10), and know there are at least 25 combined points.
Responder should look at shape as well as points when deciding what bid to make. e.g. Partner opens 1♠ to you.
♠ Q 7 6 3
♥ K J 4
♦ Q J 9
♣ J 32
This hand has four-card support and 10 high-card points, but it would be better to downgrade this hand, and make a single raise to 2♠. The 4-3-3-3 distribution means there's no shortage to use the four card trump suit for trumping anything in dummy, and there are too many queens and jacks, rather than aces.
♠ Q 10 9 3
♥ 10 9 5
♦ K 6
♣ A J 10 4
This hand has 10 high-card points plus 1 (dummy) shortage point for the doubleton diamond. This hand is worth a limit raise of 3♠. The ace and king are a plus value, and the 10’s and 9’s are working together. The ♣AJ104 is a strong combination. And there's a doubleton, giving you the chance for an extra trick by trumping in dummy.
Length of the Trump Suit
The better the trump fit, the more aggressive the partnership can be in deciding how high to bid or compete. Responder tries to describe the exact length of the support. Single raises usually don't have many trumps or shape.
Shortage (Dummy) Points (doubletons, singletons and voids).
Extra tricks are available when declarer can trump losers in dummy - provided dummy has a shortage in a side suit. The more trumps in dummy, and the shorter the side suit, the better the trick-taking potential of the hand.
The Important Difference between Length and Shortage Points:
Count length points from the very beginning when you pick up your hand but don't count shortage points until you know there's a fit! Also, once both partners know there's a fit, don't count both length and shortage points, because shortages are really based on the fact that there is a long suit (the trump suit) anyway.
Test your knowledge
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