Competitive Bidding

        Bidding is competitive if both teams are struggling to find a suit and play a contract. This section discusses a few issues concerning competitive bidding. (Note on "standard" bidding.)


Points vs. Suit Quality

        In a competitive auction, the length of your suit matters much more than the strength of your hand.

        EXAMPLE:    Suppose your partner opens 1 and the opponent makes a takeout double. You hold the following hand:

5    Q642    T974    8542

Without the double, you should probably pass the 1 opening. After the double, however, I recommend jumping to 3!
        Why? Well, you have 4-card heart support, so you and your partner have a nice 9-card fit. Furthermore, your spade singleton suggests that the opponents might have a very nice spade fit. By jumping to 3, you make it very hard for them to compete effectively.

Rules for Competitive Auctions:
        1.    With a known 8-card fit, be sure to raise to the 2-level.
        2.    With a known 9-card fit, consider jumping to the 3-level.
        3.    With a known 10-card fit, consider jumping to the 4-level.


        NOTE:    The jump to 3 is not a limit raise, and you don't have to worry about your partner raising to game. Hopefully, your partner is aware of the following rule:

In a competitive auction, any jump-bid is preemptive.


        EXCEPTIONS:    There are two exceptions to the above rule:
                1.    When your partner makes a takeout double and the next opponent passes, a jump-bid does show some strength:

(1) — Dbl — (Pass) — 2:     4 or 5 spades and 10 or 11 points.

                2.    If the opponents made a preemptive opening, or are otherwise known to be bidding with weak hands, then a jump-bid shows strength:

(2) — 2 — (3) — 4:     Shows 3 spades and enough strength for game.

Note on Standard Bidding

        Unlike the bidding of uncontested auctions, competitive bidding does not seem to have a "standard" approach. Though many players bid as described here, many others follow a more traditional approach where any jump to the 3-level show game-invitational values. In fact, weak jump-rasies after an overcall are classified as an alertable convention by the ACBL!
        If you intend to play bridge with a partner who has not read this document, you should make sure that the two of you are on the same wavelength regarding competitive bidding. For example, whenever I play with someone new I warn them of my style as follows: "I like to jump in competition with a weak hand and good support. If I actually have an invitational hand, I'll either bid a new suit or cuebid to show my values."


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