Competitive Decisions

        Once both teams find a fit, each new bid becomes a question: should we let the opponents have the contract, or should we bid "just one more"?
        The most important rule for such decisions is as follows:

When making a competitive decision, do not consider points at all.
Your decision should be based solely on distribution.


         2 over 2.     If you have an 8-card fit, you should always bid at the 2-level over the opponents. For example, suppose the bidding has been:

(1) — 1 — (2) — ?

Your partner's 1 overcall promised a 5-card suit. Therefore, you should bid 2 with 3-card support.


         3 over 2.     You should always go the the 3-level with a 9-card fit. You should also go to the 3-level with an 8-card fit as long as the opponents also have a fit.


         3 over 3.     This is the most common competitive decision. Suppose the bidding has gone:

(1) — 1 — (2) — 2 — (3) — ?

Should you pass or should you bid 3? The answer is:

With an 8-card fit, you should either pass or make a penalty double.
With a 9-card fit, you should bid 3 over 3.


         4 over 3.     Competing to the 4-level is usually a bad idea. You should only make such a bid if you and your partner have a 9 or 10-card fit.


         Higher Bids.     If your opponents have bid at the 4-level or higher, you should generally stop bidding. In most situations, you should not bid 4 over 4 or higher.
        EXCEPTION:    You may want to sacrifice over 4 or 4 if you have a 10-card fit. (In particular, bidding 4 over 4is often an excellent idea.) The opponents should then penalty double. They should not go to the 5-level under any normal circumstances.


         A balance is a bid which must be made to prevent the opponents from taking the contract. For example, after the sequence:

(1) — Pass — (2) — Pass — (Pass) — ?

The last person has a choice between passing (and hence letting the opponents play 2) and balancing.

         The primary rules for balancing are as follows:

Rules for Balancing
        1.    You should always balance over a contract of 1 or lower.
        2.    You should usually balance over a contract of 2 or lower.

In general, a bid made while balancing promises significantly fewer points than a normal overcall. For example:

        •    A balancing takeout double requires only 9 points.
        •    A balancing bid of 1NT can be made with 10-14 HCP.
        •    A balancing overcall shows a 5-card suit with one honor.
        •    A balancing Unusual 2NT shows only 5-4 in the two lowest suits.