Passion of The Game of Bridge

So You Have A Fit: Make Sure Your Bid Can Communicate These 4 Types of Fit

With 13 cards on each suit, democratically you need to have at least 7 cards to claim “majority” on the suit (4-3, 5-2). But what consider “good fit” will be at least 8 cards fit (4-4, 5-3, 6-2). While of course the more card is  the better when declaring a suit contract, remember that , sometimes, having a double suits fit,  playing 4-4 fit as trump gives you more trick than even 5-4 or 5-3 fit as the 5-3/5-4 suit can be used for discarding losers (while 4-4 become trump). Then the important question. There are 4 important types of support, does your bidding system covers it ?

4 Kinds of Support

To align the understanding: if partner open 1H with at least 5 card Heart 12-19, then at this initial stage you will put partner with 12 HCP and 5 card H – so if you have 3 card of Heart on your hand, that’s a 3 card support : 5-3 fit we say (which is a 8 cards fit).

So, the 4 kinds of support are:

  1. Weak Support: you have more than 8 cards fit but don’t have much high card point (HCP). The HCP count perhaps in 0 – 6 range.
  2. Simple Support: you have at least 8 cards fit and the High Card count is only at part-score. The HCP usually in 6-10 range.
  3. Limit Support: you have at least 8 cards fit and the High Card count is in the borderline between game and part-score. The HCP usually in 11-12 range.
  4. Strong Support: you have at least 8 cards fit and the High Card count already put your side in game zone (or better). The HCP is 12+.

One other important fact: additional card support will usually additional trick (in term of we can use it for ruffing loser or even just reducing opponent trump holding). Example: with 5-3 fit and opponent lead trump as opening, then you can only trump 2 loser maximum. But with 5-4 fits, even the opening lead is the trump, you can still ruff 3 losers giving you 1 extra winning trick.

We will see how important all 4 aspect above and the extra card support can be incorporated into your bidding system to give you a much better result than the crowd.

1 Minor Opening

If you read this opening statistic article, you will know that you will open 1 minor or 1 Major more than 60% all the time. But playing Natural system, the 1 minor opening have several variations, mainly can be divided as two as follows:

  1. Better Minor” or convenient minor and its variant: both 1 Club and 1 Diamond opening guarantee at least 3 cards. (1 Club promises 3 card Club, 1 Diamond promises 3 cards Diamond). Furthermore, if you have 3-3 minor, always open with 1 Club.
  2. Short Club” and its variant: this is where 1 Diamond opening guarantee 4 cards Diamond, so that the 1 Club opening can only promises 2 cards Club (so you need to alert 1 Club opening)

What people do not realize is that there is only 2 kinds of distribution that consist of 3 cards: 4-4-3-2 and 4-3-3-3. To be more precise, the chance that partner has 3 cards Diamond when he open 1 Diamond is only 4%. The chance that partner has 3 cards Club when he opens 1 Club is only 14% (higher compare to 1 Diamond  as if you have 3-3 minor you always open 1C) – see this for more stats.

So, in other word at least 96% of all time, partner will have at least 4 cards Diamond when he opens 1 D and at least 86% off all time he has 4 cards Club when open 1C.

Therefore in designing you bidding system for 1 minor opening, you can assume that partner has 4 cards.

With this assumptions, below is an example:

1♣ Simple/Old Style More Advanced
Weak Raise Pass 3♣/4♣/5♣
Simple Raise 2♣ 2♦
Limit Raise 3♣ 2NT
Strong Raise 2NT 2♣
1♦ Simple/Old Style More Advanced
Weak Raise Pass 3♦/4♦/5♦
Simple Raise 2♦ 3♣
Limit Raise 3♦ 2NT
Strong Raise 2NT 2♦

You can see above than more advanced system seems to be more aggressive, but it actually logical. This is the story.

Say your partner open 1D, your hand consist of 5 card Diamond but only 6 HCP. This used to be simple 1D-2D bid. But guess what ? Opponent got majors and the HCP pretty much split between us and them… So, the auction most likely ended with opponent playing 2H or 2S or even 3 level.

So started from here, the bidding system evolve with what we call “inverted minor”. With strong (13+ HCP), the system will now do 1D-2D or 1C-2C. The justification is that even though opponent got major, with 25+ HCP belong to us, then it is less likely that opponent will jump in to the bidding as often. And on the other hand, the simple raise 1C-3C or 1D-3D will force opponent to compete directly at level 3.

With this thinking, how about if you have 6 card Diamond-void Heart but 2 HCP only. (meaning the opponent could have 40HCP-2 (Yours) – 12 (partner) =26 HCP) – will this be useful with 1c-3C? Of course… it will make opponent have more difficulty getting their best fit (hence their game) at level 3.  Therefore, since then we will see that 1m-3m become the weak version of the support  and 3 om (other minor) or 2 om become the simple raise.

Then, how about hands that is in between strong and simple raise ? (meaning 10-12 HCP hand) This type of hand is quite useful as if partner is not minimum then game would be easy.  So, 2NT bid is assigned to show this.

Please note that in 1 minor opening, when we are talking about “game”, the first priority would be 3NT rather than 5C or 5D. Therefore, after showing fit, the next thing you might want to do is showing stopper.

1 Major Opening

Handling 1 Major opening is easier as it starts already with guarantee 5 cards with partner. (Meaning you will need just 3 card to declare that you have a good fit). Also when aiming for the “game” contract, we usually prefer 4H o 4S rather than 3NT.

Then by experience, we can tell that as long as you have some unbalance hand, having extra trump card on the dummy that can be used to ruff loser is basically additional trick. With this in mind, many player that use 5 card Major system employs what so called “Bergen raise” to differentiate 3 card support and 4+ card support to grab this advantage. (Imagine everybody has 10 tricks, but only bid 2S. Your partnership is the only one on the field bidding 4S because you know that partner have 4 or more support card in trump)

So, in general, using Bergen raise is recommended and will be good for your result in the long term.

Below is an example how you use your bidding system:

1♠ Simple/Old Style 3 cd support 4+cds Support/
Bergen Raise
Weak Raise Pass 3♠/4♠ 3♠/4♠
Simple Raise 2♠ 2♠ 3
Limit Raise 3♠ 1NT rebid 3♠ 3
Strong Raise 2NT 2m/2♥ then ♠ 3♣
1♥ Simple/Old Style 3 cd support 4+cds Support
/ Bergen Raise
Weak Raise Pass 3♥/4♥ 3♥/4♥
Simple Raise 2♥ 2♥ 3♣
Limit Raise 3 1NT rebid 3♥ 3
Strong Raise 2NT 1♠/2m then ♥ 2♠

Please note 1NT on the example above is “Forcing NT” convention which basically ask opener to bid their second suit (usually at least 3 card minor) or rebid the Major if he/she has 6+cards. This is also very useful and competitive convention.

Feeling unease with “how am I suppose to remember all of these” syndrome?
Then try to use mnemonic and notation that will probably help you. For example: you can say 3M-1 (1 bid before 3H or 3S) is invite with 4+cards support and 3M-2 is simple raise with 4+cards support, etc.

Just remember, all of these little advantages will accumulate their benefit over time!

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Bergen Raise

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