Inverted Minor Raises
When partner opens in a minor suit, responding is different to major suit openings. For one thing, responder is not sure how many cards opener is showing in the minor. 1♦ will show four or more diamonds, but 1♣ may show two cards in clubs. (Most of the time, but not always, it shows four or more clubs). So responder will bid their own suit (especially a major), or no trumps, before raising partner’s minor. For more on this topic, check out an earlier lesson in the Judgement module: Minor Suits Exist Too!
But there are times when responder has a good fit for partner’s minor opening, and NO major to show.
The standard approach is:
1♦ p 2♦ = 6 - 10 points, no four+ card major, and at least four diamonds
1♣ p 2♣ = 6 - 10 points, no four+ card major, and at least five clubs
And for stronger hands,
1♦ p 3♦ = 11 - 12 points, no four+ card major, and at least four diamonds
1♣ p 3♣ = 11 - 12 points, no four+ card major, and at least five clubs
But playing this way, with a good hand and a minor fit, we’ve just wasted a lot of bidding space by jumping to 3♣/♦, let alone having to jump to 3NT for even better hands without a major. And the options of playing 3NT or 5♦/♣ may be a guess, because we can’t make a more informed decision. On a good day, we’ll make 3NT, but on a bad day, the opponents will lead their suit, beat our 3NT and we wish we’d been playing in 5♣/♦.
SO…a great answer to this is to play Inverted Minors Raises
This (simply swapping the meaning of two bids) allows us to find the correct no trump contract or the correct minor suit contract. It’s called “inverted” because you “invert” the meaning of two bids.
1♣/♦ p 2♣/♦ is no longer 6 – 10 points, but it becomes the stronger raise, and in fact is unlimited (11+). It’s mostly forcing to game (occasionally to 3 of the minor) as it defines one of 2 possible hands. I prefer it to be a force to game, showing a fit for the minor, no four card major, and 11+ points.
And 1♣/♦ p 3♣/♦ becomes the weaker, preemptive 6-10 point raise.
North opens 1♣ and South bids 2♣! North would now bid 2NT, guaranteeing a stopper in both majors.
If, on another hand, North didn’t have a stopper in both majors, they bid the major where they do have a stopper, e.g. 1♣ p 2♣ p 2♥ would show a heart stopper but not a spade stopper, and 1♣ p 2♣ p 2♠ would show a spade stopper but not a heart stopper. As above, if both majors are stopped, North would bid 2NT.
NB: Important to remember!
Partner will NOT think you have a major suit when you bid the major here, because the responder has already denied interest in either major when they made their first bid, raising the minor.
Now playing Inverted minors, when North opens 1♣ South will respond 3♣ showing a weak, preemptive hand without a major suit, and not wanting to go any further. It’s not forcing.
What constitutes a major suit stopper? Any holding of J10xx or QJx are the minimum values for showing a stopper. Anything better is safer of. So, when the bidding goes e.g. 1♣ p 2♣ p 2♥, you’ve promised a stopper in hearts (good enough to guarantee that the opponents will not be able to take a lot of tricks in that suit, if they lead it). And it would deny a spade stopper. Opener would look at their spade holding, and bid no trumps if they had a stopper there, but avoid no trumps if not, and return to the minor.
When you don’t have an unbalanced hand with a fit in partner’s minor, and you don’t have a four card or longer major to show, respond 1NT (6 - 10, no major) or sometimes 2NT (11-12, no major). NB: For better hands with no major and enough for game, we used to bid 1♣/♦ p 3NT (13 - 15), but with any fit in the minor, it works so much better to use Inverted minors (1♣/♦ p 2♣/♦) than to waste all your space.
Inverted minors are very popular. They improve this difficult area of minor raises, and give the partnership the necessary space to investigate good minor hands which may even make slam.
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