Strong Hands

Very Strong Hands

It is not often that you will come across a very strong hand, but when you do it is important that you know how to bid them. Remember that you get a big bonus to your score if you bid and make game, and an even bigger one for a slam. If these contracts are available you don’t want to risk missing them. 

If you have a strong hand (16-19) you will have to open 1 of a suit and show your strength with your rebid.

If you have 20+ points you have more options for an opening bid. Your choice depends on your point count and the shape of your hand.

Opening 2NT

If you have 20-22 points and a fairly balanced hand then you can open 2NT.

You can open 2NT with a slightly less balanced hand than would open 1NT. This might include 2 doubletons or a 5 card major. This is because opening 1 of your 5 card major will not show partner your strength. If you do not have enough points to open 2♣ (see below), then you need to try and find an opening that will tell partner that you are still strong.

These hands would all open 2NT

Responding to 2NT

If partner opens 2NT, you should respond in a similar way to if they had opened 1NT but 1 level higher.

Transfers – If you have a 5 card major then bid 3/ transfer, whatever your points.

Partner has opened 2NT. Both of these hands would bid 3 as a transfer to hearts.

Once the transfer is complete, if you have 0-5 points then pass (allowing for fit points). 

If you have more than 5 points then rebid 3NT (only go to 4 of your major if you have a 6 card major suit).

The final decision will be up to partner. With 3 card support for your major they will raise to game in that suit. With only 2 of your major they will pass and play in 3NT.

Stayman – If you have a 4 card major and 5+ points then bid 3♣ stayman. Just as at the 1NT opening level you need 11+ points to be interested in game, here you will be at 3NT if you cannot find a trump suit fit so you need game points.

3♣ asks partner to bid their longest suit naturally.

Partner has opened 2NT. Both of these hands would bid 2♣ stayman.

If partner agrees your major suit then rebid game unless absolutely minimum. 

If partner does not agree your suit, then rebid 3NT.

Opening 2♣

If you have 23+ points then you should open 2♣ regardless of the shape of your hand. This is a game forcing opening – if you open 2♣ then your partnership must bid to game (with 1 exception, see below).

Both of these hands would open 2♣ to show 23+ points.

Responding to 2♣

If partner opens 2♣ and you have fewer than 8 points then bid 2. This is a relay bid. All it says is that you have <8 points and waits for more info from partner. Partner will usually then bid their longest suit. You can take things slowly over 2♣ as bidding cannot stop until you reach game.

If partner opens 2♣ and you have 8+ points then you can bid a suit to show your points. You are letting partner know that there is a chance for a slam here.

Opening 2♣ with a balanced hand

If you have 23+ points and a balanced hand then you should open 2♣ and rebid 2NT.

This is the one sequence starting with 2♣ which is allowed to end before game. If you open 2♣ and partner bids 2 and you rebid 2NT then partner can pass with 0-3 points and a very balanced hand.

Slam Bidding

If partner makes a very strong opening then you should be aware of the possibility of a slam.

You want about 33 points between you to comfortably make a slam. If you can count 31 between you then you should investigate further.

If you are sure that you have 33+ between you and have found a suit fit then bid 6 of your suit. For 6NT you want closer to 35. This is to ensure that opps cannot have 2 aces.

If you are not quite sure if you have enough for a slam then you can use one of these options.

If you have agreed a suit

If you know that you have a suit fit with partner, and that you have a combined 31/32 points (including fit points) then you can bid 4NT. This is BLACKWOOD. It asks partner to show you how many aces they have. Partners response shows – 

5♣ – 0/4 aces

5 – 1 ace

5 – 2 aces

5♠ – 3 aces

If you have 3 or more aces between you then you should bid the slam.

If you are missing 2 aces then rebid your suit at the 5 level to conclude the auction.

If partner opens NT

If your partner has opened 2NT then 4NT is quantitative. It asks partner to bid 6NT if they are maximum for their range or 5NT if they are minimum.

For more on slam bidding click the button.