Why do we overcall?

  • There might be a chance of making a game contract
  • You might find a good sacrifice
  • Even if you don’t end up playing the hand it will give partner information for the opening lead and defence

Simple Overcalls

If the opposition open and you have a good suit then you can just call that suit. In order to do this you must have –

  • a 5 card suit with 2 honours in that suit. You can include 10’s for this purpose. Remember that if partner ends up on lead they will lead this suit and will be very disappointed is your quality is poor
  • 8 points to overcall at the 1 level and 10 to overcall at the 2 level 

If you lack either the suit quality or points then you cannot make a simple overcall.

♠ AQ863



♣ 753

Opposition have opened 1 ♣. This is the kind of hand which should overcall 1 ♠. You have a 5 card spade suit with 2 honours and more than 8 points. 

Opposition have opened 1 ♣. This hand has 9 HCP and a 5 card spade suit. However with only the Q in spades the suit is not good enough to call and this hand should just pass.

♠ Q8632



♣ A75

Responding to a simple overcall

  • A raise of partners suit does not promise many points, it only shows the level of the fit
  • If partner overcalls at the 1 level and you have 6+ points and 3 card support raise them to 2, with 4 card support raise to 3
  • With fewer than 3 card support and less than 12 points just pass
  • With 12-18 and 3+ card support use 2NT inquiry
  • With 18+ and support for partner bid game unless you think there is a chance for a slam.
  • With 18+ and no support for partner, bid your own suit if you have one, or think about NT.

Unassuming Cue Bids

So if a raise of partners suit does not show points then how can we know if there is a chance of game? The answer is to use a UCB.

If you have 3+ card support for partner and 12-18 points then you should cue bid the oppositions suit. This will ask partner how good their overcall was.

♠ 86



♣ QJ3

Opposition have opened 1 ♣ and partner has overcalled 1 . You have 13 HCP and good support for partner. If partner also has an opening hand you should be making game. This is a perfect chance to use a 2NT inquiry.

With fewer than 12 points partner will rebid their suit at the lowest possible level. If partner has more than 12 points then they will bid game.

Remember to include fit points in these calculations once you know you have a fit.

Weak Jump Overcalls

Another common variety of overcall is the weak jump overcall. This shows the sort of hand that would have opened pre-emptively. So a WJO at the 2 level promises 5-9 points and a 6 card suit. At the 3 level you are showing a 7 card suit

Responding to a Weak Jump Overcall

  • With less than 16 points and no support just pass
  • With support for partner and less than 16 points bid to the level of the fit
  • With 16+ points and a good 6 card suit of your own, bid that suit
  • With 16-18 points and support for partner bid 2NT to ask how good the WJO was
  • With 19+ points and support bid game

For more information on pre-emptive bidding click here.