Barbara Seagram

Having a Fit

Since the dawn of civilization, superstars have dreamt up conventions that help us locate a major-suit fit: Stayman, Michaels Cuebids, and Negative Doubles among many others.

With this in mind, what will you bid when partner opens 1 and RHO (right-hand opponent) overcalls 1D?


Answer: You should make a negative double, since if you bid 1, your potential heart fit may get lost forever. In other words, if you bid 1 and LHO now bids 3, you are not strong enough to bid 3 if the next two players pass. However, if your hand were stronger (10 or more points), you should bid 1 first, since you could afford to bid hearts later.

Now take a look at this treasure: Partner opens 1, RHO overcalls 1 and you have:


Don’t bid 3, a non-forcing limit raise, promising 10-12 points. To show partner that you have four hearts, you must instead make a negative double — maybe she started life with four hearts also. If partner now bids 2 (your double suggests that you also have clubs), then your next bid should be 3.

Hang in there, we aren’t through yet!
You open 1 on these cards:

Your partner responds 1 (opponents cooperate at last by passing). What is your rebid? Since 1 is forcing, you must bid again if you wish to live through the day,.

The correct rebid is 2. It is a myth that you must have 4-card support to raise responder’s major. True, you would prefer to rebid 1NT but, because you have no heart stopper, you cannot. It is seldom right to rebid a 5-card minor, (there is practically always something better to do in life!) so since you have a useless doubleton in hearts (a ‘ruffing value’), raise to 2. Partner should not bid her spades again with only four of them.
Give partner the following hand: (The auction has gone

You Partner (her hand follows)
East West
1 1
2 3NT


Over your 2 rebid, partner will bid 3NT. If you (East) actually had 4-card spade support, you would now correct to 4. You will practically never get to game on a 4-3 major suit fit.

Give West 3 fewer HCP.

You Partner (her hand follows)
East West
1 1
2 2NT (showing 11-12 HCP)

Once again, if you (East) actually had 4-card spade support, you would now correct to 3 or 4, depending on how many points you have as the opening bidder.


And now for one more test: Partner opens 1:


Well? I would strongly recommend responding 1 with this hand. When you are responding with 10 or more points, always bid your 4-card suits up the line (with a weaker hand, bypass the diamond suit and bid 1 as you’ll only get one kick at the can).

Bidding 1 prepares you perfectly for every eventuality: if partner now bids hearts or spades, you can raise to game. But what if partner bids 1NT instead? Do you bother to mention your spade suit? No, partner does not have four hearts or four spades: she has specifically denied this by bidding 1NT. Raise to 3NT immediately in this scenario.

Playing in an 8-card major-suit fit contract is always safer than playing in notrump. Whenever you miss one, take the time to go over the hand later and determine where you went wrong.

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