New To The Table
Going to game: but which game?
We, the bridge teachers, tell our new players to bid to game when we know we are strong enough to do so. Sometimes, we may be strong enough but we do not know which game we should bid.
As a for instance, we open 1 and partner bids 1. We may hold the following hand:
As we have 19 hcp, we know we are now going to game (our partner will have at least 6 hcp) though we are not sure which game. Any of 3NT, 4,4 or even 5 may be the right game. We have to engage our partner’s help by describing our hand rather than jumping to any game. We jump to 3 (certainly not 2..way too strong) saying our partnership is heading for game (maybe even to slam) and await our partner’s next bid.
Similarly, with 19 hcp and a balanced hand, we know we are going to game once our partner responds. With no 4-card support for our partner, our next bid could be 3NT. This rather limits our partner’s ability to explore for the right game as their hand might not be so balanced. Take the following:
How would South feel if the bidding proceeded
North showing a balanced hand with 19 hcp? South might be a little worried about their holding in both minor suits. Just because their partner opened 1, there is no guarantee why their diamond holding should be particularly strong. 4 may be a better, safer contract though after partner’s 3NT bid, there is no room to explore.
You may suggest that North should jump to 2 and subsequently if able show some heart support. That is possible though we generally advise that such a jump shows a more unbalanced hand than the one North has. It is generally better to show the strength and the balanced nature of the hand first.
Nowadays, we can get over the problem of opener jumping to 3NT as above. After opener bids and partner responds at the 1 level, the following structure applies as opener’s second bid:
We should never have to rebid 3NT with a balanced hand while with less than 15hcp, we would have opened 1NT. After North bids 2NT, South can bid 3 at their second turn enabling North to bid 3 and in this case, the better and certainly safer 4 game contract is reached.
Note that since 2NT shows 18-19 hcp, the subsequent sequence is forcing to game. 3 cannot be passed.
At a more advanced stage, we can learn what are called “Checkback” bids after a 1NT or 2NT second bid, “checking back” for any possible major fits. For now, the bidding above is entirely natural.
On Sunday, we will see how the play should go in both our 3NT and 4 contracts. In 3NT (by North), the lead is Q and in 4 (by South) Q. Plan the play to them both.
Remember, even though you may be going to game, you may need to enlist partner’s help in deciding which should be the best game to bid. In such cases, always make a bid which your partner cannot pass.