By Larry Matheny



You passed at your first opportunity to bid and now you must respond to your partnerís opening bid.The most important thing to remember is that without special agreements, your partner may now pass any natural bid you make.This means you must change your action with many hands.For example, holding:††† S9765HK32DQ87 CK732,is it safe to respond 1S when it may be passed by a partner who has opened light?To answer this and other similar questions, letís first take a look at opening light in third or fourth seats.Then we will set some rules for responder and opener.




Experience has shown that active players get better results than passive players.An effective tactic is to open in third seat with hands not strong enough to open in first or second seat.You may benefit from this by (1) obstructing the opponents, (2) making an effective lead-directing bid, or (3) buying the contract for a plus score.Your objective when opening light in fourth chair is to make a plus score for otherwise you could simply pass and go to the next hand.Letís set some rules for these light openers.




  1. Third seat openers can be very light according to partnership agreements.
  2. If light, opener should not open unless he is prepared to pass partnerís response.
  3. If you want to open but are afraid partner may get you too high, consider a weak-two bid.
  4. A weak-two in third seat can by very undisciplined and your partner must show restraint.†††




  1. A one over one response is not forcing on opener.
  2. A 1NT response shows six to ten instead of six to nine.
  3. A two over one shows a five-card (or longer) suit and is not forcing.
  4. A 2NT response shows eleven or twelve points.
  5. A limit raise shows eleven or twelve points.With ten, make a single raise.







  1. If opener passes responderís one-level response in a new suit, he shows a tolerance for partnerís suit.This will usually be three small or better, but in a pinch can be AX, KX, or QX.(Again, this is partnership agreement.)
  2. If opener passes responderís two-level response, he does not promise a tolerance.A singleton in partnerís suit is possible.
  3. If opener rebids any number of notrump, he promises full values.
  4. If opener raises, he promises full values.
  5. If opener bids a new suit, he suggests, but does not promise, full values.




Opener will not open bad hands in fourth seat.When you open in fourth seat, you should expect a plus score.Itís also good to hold the spade suit to reduce the chances of being outbid.Weak twoís in fourth seat are more constructive than in any other seat.Responder can count on opener having a good hand in the ten to thirteen range.




Responderís bids show the same values as when responding to a third seat opening bid.The one change is that responder can bid more aggressively because opener should have decent values.




Openerís rebids are about the same as after having opened in third seat.One important distinction is that when opener passes a one over one or two over one response, he still has a fair hand.





The jump shift in response to a third or fourth seat opener may be used in at least four different ways.Pick the one your partner agrees to and stick with it.


  1. The most common is to show a maximum passed hand with a five-card suit.This probably isnít necessary for if game is possible, opener will generally rebid over your normal response.
  2. A more specific jump shift makes sense.It is worthwhile to use it to show a hand with a good suit, a super fit, and a maximum hand.
  3. You may also use the jump shift as preemptive.
  4. The jump shift may also be used to show a singleton, a super fit, and a maximum passed hand.




When partner opens one of a major in third or fourth seat, a new suit bid by you may be passed so you must raise with support for openerís major.The simple raise to the two-level remains the same but a difficulty emerges when you have a hand with 10-12 points in support of the major.Without a helpful convention or other agreement, the answer is that you must jump to the three-level.This means you may be often be too high if partner has opened light and the two hands donít fit well.Here is an easy convention to solve this problem:


DRURY Ė This convention is used after a third or fourth seat major-suit opening bid.An artificial response of 2C shows 10-12 support points and asks partner if he opened light.In the most commonly used version, opener will rebid two of his major to show a light opener.I highly recommend using this convention.The only downsides are the loss of a natural 2C response along with the need to remember the convention.Take a look at these hands:



†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† S1032†† HAQ103†† DKQ54†† C98


††††††††††††††††† OPENER A†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† OPENER B

†††††† SAK987†† HKJ2†† DJ7CKQ3††††††††††††††††††† †††† SKQ876†† H87†† DJ9†† CAJ76


As responder you pass with the above hand and your partner opens 1S in third seat.If you must jump to 3S to show your strength you better hope your partner holds hand A rather than hand B.Using Drury, you respond 2C and opener will jump to game with A and sign off in 2S with B.As with many conventions, the 2C bid and responses must be Alerted.



Now letís look at some examples of the material weíve covered:




††† P††††††† P†††††† ??††††



1.SAKQ87†† H1094†† D764†† CJ10†††† Open 1S and pass any natural response by partner.Some partnerships allow a weak 2S bid with this hand.


2.SQ1063†† HKJ4†† DJ98†† CA109†††† Open 1C and pass any natural response by partner.


3.SQ6HKJ†† DJ982†† CKJ876††††††† Pass.You have no good rebid over one of a major plus itís likely the opponents will outbid you.





†† P†††††† P†††††† 1S††††††† P




1.SKJ3†† HKJ†† DK10986†† C876†††† Bid 3S.Remember partner can pass a two- level response.This is a good hand for the Drury convention.


2.SK4†† HA98†† DQ8743†† CJ76†††††† Bid 1NT.Your partner may pass a two-level bid and your diamond suit is not good enough to play opposite a weak holding.


3.SQ943†† H82†† D9†† CAQJ872††††† Bid 3C if you use fit-showing jumps.Otherwise bid 3S or use Drury.Remember you canít bid a natural 2C because partner can pass.




†† P†††††††† P††††††††† P†††††† ??


1.SAKJ1082†† H1093†† DKJ6†† C2†† Open 2S.You hope to buy the contract and go plus.


2.SJ8†† HQJ86†† DKQ32†† CK65††††††††† ††††† Pass.The opponents may outbid you or you may go minus.