By Steve Turner
Has this ever happened to you? Partner opens 1, your convention card indicates limit raises in the minors , & you hold 82 972 KQJ65 AQJ. Hmmmmm…..what now?
Or, your convention card indicates forcing jump raises in the minors, and you hold 82 972 AK652 KJ2. Different scenario, but the same painful dilemma……what now?
Do you see where we’re headed? In both examples, any bid you make is a distortion, a gamble, and a little luck is needed to land on your feet.
Enter “Inverted Minors” to solve this problem, whereby a raise to 2 of partner’s opening minor expresses a hand which is a limit raise (or better). Now, all we need is a small tool kit to describe follow-up bids by opener and responder to help us land consistently in the right spot. Is that not our objective in this game?
This approach involves 2 basic changes in our minor suit raise structure:
1. A simple raise shows at least a limit raise with partner (but “Off” in direct competition).
2. A jump raise shows a weak (preemptive) hand, in the neighborhood of
6-9 support points (and still “On” in direct competition).
First, when responder has a good hand, the bidding level is kept at a low level. This allows for more room to explore game-going possibilities.
Second, with weak hands, we preempt the enemy quickly. This can be very effective in either “buying” the contract against their potential major suit fit, or disrupting their ability to find their best place to play. Make ‘em guess at the 3-level. So, you ask “Why not raise to 2 with 6-9 points, and then raise to 3 if we have to?” OK….do you think, at matchpoints, that the enemy will allow you to play there? Don’t count on it, folks….it gets messy out there. Very few 2-level auctions, when the opponents have found a fit, are safe from competition. So…….if you’re going to compete to the 3-level anyway (when they balance in), create the action now and make it tough for them to make the right decision.
Here’s a rule for you: In competition, bid as high as you are willing to go.
Stated another way, as the late Barry Crane once said to one of his partners, Dr. John Fisher: “John, In competition, we must bid all of our values at once”.
1: 2! Invitational (or better) values, 10+HCP. Off in competition.
1: 2! 4+ card support (preferably 5+)
No 4-card Major
Not suitable for a 2NT or 3NT direct response (refer to the
nuisance hands at the beginning of this lesson plan)
Note: this bid is forcing for one round
1: 3! Preemptive (no more than 7 HCP). On in competition. With 8 or 9
1: 3! HCP, you should bid 1NT.
5+ card support (or rarely, with 4 good cards)
About 6-9 support points (add 1 point for a doubleton, 3 points for
a singleton, as many points as you have suit length with a Void).
No 4-card Major
At least a doubleton in a side suit
Hand in hand with these bids, are the following suggested NT responses:
1/1:1NT 6-10 HCP, no 4-card Major
:2NT 11-12 HCP, no 4-card major
:3NT 13-15 HCP, no 4-card major
We still have available a 1NT response, instead of a jump raise, with hands that are in the 6-10 point range; i.e. nothing is engraved in stone. Let’s face it: there are those times when a hand does not fit nicely into either a single raise or double raise. Generally, 1NT is the preferred bid in these cases….better to keep the bidding at a low level, at 1NT, especially with hands that are at the top of the point count range. You might hold 4 (or even 5-card) support for partner, but the hand could produce an inferior result in a minor, versus 1NT. Here, judgement often prevails.
One quick example, to illustrate this:
Partner opens 1, and you pick up J2 K102 J10432 Q102…..isn’t 1NT preferable to a 3 jump? First, your fit is hidden and you’ve just preempted the enemy with 1NT….they might be nervous about balancing into partner’s potential major holdings; also, a 3 raise (inverted raise) might easily place the contract unnecessarily too high on such a balanced hand, when 7 tricks in NT are likely (or, if not, it’s quite likely that the opponents have 110 or 140 their way).
Opener’s rebid after a single raise:
2NT= Balanced minimum, decent control of the majors
3 of the minor= Unbalanced minimum (5+ length or stiff major)
New suit bid= Shows a stopper (does not promise a 4-card suit)
Stoppers are shown up-the-line….bypassing a suit
denies a stopper in that suit.
Shows one of 2 types of hands:
Either a hand unsuitable for a 2NT rebid, or
A hand with enough extra for game (or better) opposite a
limit raise, temporizing. If responder next signs off in 2NT
or 3 of the minor, opener will insist on at least game.
3NT= Shows a balanced, 18-19 HCP
Further bidding by responder:
If opener rebids 2NT or 3 of the minor (minimums), responder (with limit raise strength only) may:
Correct to 3 of the minor over 2NT if unbalanced, This is a sign-off.
With at least game going values, responder may:
Bid game (usually 3NT or 5 of the minor)
Bid a new suit (stopper) to investigate 3NT or slam
If opener rebids a new suit, responder may:
Bid 2NT with appropriate unbid suit stoppers and invitational values
Bid 3 of the minor without the appropriate stoppers, invitational values
Bid 3NT with appropriate stoppers and an opening hand
Bid a new suit to show a stopper, still investigating game or higher
Consider this: If responder knows where the final contract should be….Bid it!!!
Example: Partner opens 1, you raise to 2, and partner rebids 2. You hold….. AQ J2 Q1032 KJ432. Bid 3NT right now! If you bid 2, and end up in 3NT by partner, the contract may be in jeopardy with a spade lead thru your AQ. In fact (another day, another lesson), some partnerships play that a 2 bid here suggests that you want partner to have the lead coming into his/her hand. Other partnerships suggest that 2 tends to show the Ace only, needing help in the suit (by contrast, the NT should be bid by the hand holding a protected King in that suit). Some radical partnerships even deny any stopper in the spade suit in this auction….really weird!!! Here’s the point: you have double stops and don’t want to suggest only one stop, so bid and play it from your side.
You and your partner can have many great results with this approach and, hopefully, improve on your competitive results. Enjoy!