Passion of The Game of Bridge

Bergen Raise Disaster: A Lesson Learnt

Bergen Raise Disaster: A Lesson Learnt

One of the popular (and terrific) convention that better player use is Bergen Raise. But like all others artificial bidding, because of its unnatural nature, the user need to be absolutely memorize it inside out or a disaster is waiting to happen. This is some of the lesson learnt from my own disasters.

Bergen Raise

Bergen Raise is a convention to show prime support (4 cards or more) after partner open in 1 of Major ( Spade or Heart). The fundamental core of Bergen Raise is that with extra trump, you basically will end up usually with 1 extra trick.

Using this convention, you can amazingly differentiate virtually all combination of Major supports, such as:

  1. 3 cards support weak / blocking <6pts
  2. 3 cards support simple raise 6-9 pts
  3. 3 cards support invite 10-11 pts
  4. 3 cards support forcing game 12+pts
  5. 4+ cards support weak / blocking <6pts
  6. 4+ cards support simple raise 6-9pts
  7. 4+ cards support invite 10-11pts
  8. 4+ cards support forcing game (not balance)  12+pts
  9. 3+ cards support forcing game (balance hand : 4333 or even 5332)  12+pts

And yes, all those types above each have difference bidding sequence. And to make it even worse the sequence for Heart  and Spade  will be slightly different, such as:

After 1   Meaning After 1
3H/4H 4cd+ SUPP, Weak 3S/4S
3D 4cd+ SUPP, Invite 3H
3C 4cd+ SUPP, Simple Raise 3D
2S 4cd+ SUPP, Forcing Game 3C
2NT 3cd+ BAL, Forcing Game 2NT
3H 3cd+ SUPP, Weak 3S
1NT//3H 3cd+ SUPP, Invite 1NT//3S
2H 3cd+ SUPP, Simple Raise 3S
2X(4+cd) 3cd+ SUPP, Forcing Game 2X(4+cd)
then 4H then 4S

In particular, see the first 4 rows. The way I remember it (foolproof way) is

3M=weak, 3(M-1)=invite, 3(M-2)=Simple Raise, 3(M-3)= FG

M= Major,  could be Heart or Spade
M-1 = the suit with rank 1 below the Major : if Major is Heart, M-1= Diamond
M-2 = the suit with rank 2 below the Major : if Major is Spare, M-2 = Diamond

But as you get used to bid it, like what happen to me, you simply just want to remember it directly. In this case for some reasons, I remember 3 C is a forcing game. See what happen below.

The Disaster

4H or 7H

This board come up in the GNOT Direct Qualifier in my club. South Pass and I open 1H. My partners reply with 2S which I alert promptly.

South East North West
P 1H P 2S(!)
P 4H All Pass

As “3C is FG” was stuck in my head , I even explain to the opponent that 2S is Bergen Raise with simple raise point (6-9) – meaning 8-9 losers. Forgetting that I have only about 4.5 losers and only 2 trumps outside (I practically just need 2 Kings except club to get at least 6H), I quickly sign-off to 4H.

My partner is actually hearing my wrong explanation and could do something to rectify that. But to his  credit, as we usually practice the high standard of ethics, he just simply pass. Because if he bid say 6H (with the thinking that: he only know 6-9pts and bid Game immediately, must be something good”) then he is acting based on unauthorized information.

If I remember correctly what “2S” means, the bidding will be like this:

South East North West
P 1H P 2S(!)
P 3C(cue) P 3H(wait)
P 3S(cue) P 4D(2nd ctrl)
P 5C** P 5H(1 kc)
P 5NT (GSF) P 7H
** exclusion key card, no of key card outside Club

After 5NT Grand Slam trial, partner know that he only shows Diamond 2nd round control and King of H, hence the extra of KQ Spade and Q of heart will be enough to bid 7H.

So, because of my silly mistake, our team loss the session as the opponent bid 6H easily. Totally my fault!!

Lesson Learnt

A few items to take away from above disaster are:

  1. Artificial convention have to be really memorize inside out or simply do not use it.
  2. The more advance you are as player, a mistake or misunderstanding in a convention will lead to totally different result. (If you are still beginner, probably the impact will be less pronounce – in the example above you probably only think between 4H and 6H and not thinking about 7H as yet)
  3. Foolproof method is more beneficial and fast method
  4. Sportsmanship is better than just winning.

Thank you



  1. Linda /

    In the above deal, why wouldn’t your partner simply respond 2NT (Jacoby) to show 13+ points and 4 card support for your major

    1H 2NT
    2C 2D
    4NT (asking for aces) or whatever system you use to get to slam.

    • Hi Linda,
      Good question, it actually depends of the overall system that you use.
      One of the problem using Jacoby is, what to do with 4-3-3-3 (only 3 card support in major 4 card on minor) and 13+ pts?
      On the above you *could* be better playing in 3NT rather than 4 major. The ability to differentiate between 3 card support and 4 card support is very very significant.
      Just my opinion. Thanks

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