How to Respond to Partner's Bid Changing Suits (Lesson 6)

By Joe Andrews
Respond, Partner's Bid, Suits

We continue the topic "Responses to Partner's Opening Bid" with the focus on "Changing Suits." For example, partner has opened the bidding with a major suit call of 1S or 1H. You do not have support for his 5-card suit. However, you do have enough points and/or distributional features to make a responding bid. Here are the prerequisites for showing a new suit (or NT). 1. One over one (non jump)--Your hand may be weak or strong. 2. A jump bid--Your hand is of opening strength. This bid is forcing to Game or perhaps Slam. 3. The big leap!--You have a decent long suit (7 or 8 cards) and distributional features. This is a "shut out" bid.

Changing Suits (Responses)


Sometimes your response can be on the one level, especially if your partner opens 1C or 1D and you have a four or five-card major suit.

Remember, your first response shows a hand of at least 6 HCP. (You could have as many as 18 points, however, your primary duty is to show a suit if you have one.) Don't forget to add DISTRBUTIONAL values (voids, singleton and doubletons) when bidding or responding in any suit.


If partner opens with a major suit and you cannot support that suit, you may have to go to the two level with a minor suit of your own. Your bid on the two level also shows 10+ HCP. If you have a four-card spade suit after partner bids 1H, you should show this feature, a bid of 1S. A raise to 2C or 2D also promises at least five cards in that minor. Another possibility is that partner opens with 1S and you hold five hearts. You can then bid 2H. The opening hand is FORCED to respond to your first bid.


If partner opens with one of a minor suit and you hold opening hand values 13+ HCP AND a good five-card major, you will bid 2H or 2S. This provides encouragement to partner to explore for GAME. If partner opens with one of a major and you hold 13+ HCP and a strong five-card minor, then you must jump to three of that minor. Some players prefer to have a minimum of 16 HCP in order to make a jump response.

Remember, a Game in a major suit requires approximately 26 combined HCP.

SHUT OUT RAISE (Sometimes called a "Leap Takeout")

If partner opens with any suit (usually a minor) on the one level and you hold a seven-card major suit (with some strength in that suit), you should jump to FOUR of your major suit! This shows less than 10 HCP and desire to play the hand at the four level. It also disrupts the communication between your opponents.


If partner opens with one of any suit and you have a somewhat balanced hand, the response of 1NT shows 6 to 10 HCP and denies a four-card major suit. Do not go to the two level with a new suit and less than 10 HCP.


If partner opens with any suit and you have a balanced hand with 13 to 15 HCP (and no support for a major suit opener by partner), you must bid 2NT. This is a JUMP bid and forces to GAME. If you have a hand with 4-3-3-3 shape, NT is probably the best place for your final contract. Game in NT is a final bid of 3NT and you will need a minimum of 25 combined HCP to have play for this contract.


If you hold a balanced hand and 16 to 18 HCP, the bid of 3NT tells partner that you do not have support of any major suit he may have bid. Partner may explore Slam possibilites if his opening bid had a count of at least 16 HCP. He may also pass if his opening bid count was lower. (Slam bidding will be covered in another of my articles.)


Partnerships should always strive for GAME in a major (4H or 4S) or game in NT (3NT). If there is no major suit "fit" (8 or more cards in a combined holding) and there are HCP between the two hands, NT is usually a good alternative. Minor suits games require additional HCP (usually 28 or 29) and score badly in Duplicate events. Furthermore, the five-level bid is much more difficult to make.