Quick summary

Suggest a different 4+ card suit if you can't support your partner's opening suit:

Your change of suit forces opener to rebid - so you'll get another chance later to show if you're very strong.

But with 16 points, jump shift to new suit, provided you have 6 cards.

Plan ahead if you have 2 suits that you could bid: going through your 'responder's barrier' might promise 12+ points. Your barrier is in the same suit as your first bid, at one level higher.

Suit lengths also make a difference


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade J 7 6 5 3
diamond A J 10 5 2
club K 3 2
Example Deal
You: South
Dealer: West
Vuln: none

Thinking ahead to responder's barrier
Go to quiz (& full page) of deal # 126018

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«  0041  »

Responder 1st bids. After 1 Suit, No fit, but alternative suit

Tell your partner you've got 5 or 4 of a new suit, and something about how many points. Here's how:

41. Reply to 1 Suit opening. No fit, but alternative suit
Points 6-9 9 10-15 16+ 16+
The bidding lets you reply at the one level
cards 4 4+ 6
bid 1 of new suit 1 of new suit 2 of new suit
The bidding forces you to reply at the two level
cards 4 5m, 5M 4m, 5M 4m, 5M 6
bid dustbin 1NT 2 of new suit 2 of new suit 2 of new suit 3 of new suit
Add to your customised cribsheet


Fundamental point number 1. Have you spotted that changing suit at the 2 level promises 5-cards if you bid a Major ? It means opener can support your new suggestion with only 3 cards.

Fundamental point number 2: Bid at the lowest level available.

Fundamental point number 3: But if you have to bid at the two level to change suit, then you are promising 10+HCP. You can only break this rule if you have extra good length in your suit, which entitles you to some distribution points. For example, you might be tempted to respond 2club with only 8HCP if you had a 6-card suit, or 9HCP and a 5-card suit. This is known as the "Rule of 14".

Jump shift on 6-16

With 16 points things get interesting. Not only is game certain, but a Slam could be there. So, if you also have lots of cards (6+) tell your partner immediately, by "jump shifting". Change suit, and at the same time jump raise the bidding (so, bid 3 clubs for example, when you could bid 2).

This is code for “Partner darling, we're in the money. I have 16+ points, 6-card suit. Do your arithmetic, and get back to me ! With your 12-19 points, we could be in slam territory here”. 

If you only have a 5-card suit, generally change suit (bid at the lowest level available) and show your impressive 16+ HCP strength to your partner next time round. You will get a chance, because your change of suit was a forcing bid. See "jump shifting" for exceptions.


Suppose you have a wonderful hand with 16+ points and a lovely suit that's not your partner's suit. But suppose you also have 4-card support for the suit your partner opened with. Since you and your partner have 8 cards in this suit of your partner's, and tons of points, should you support your partner's suit?

It might be best not to. Not yet, anyway. That's because supporting your partner's suit is not forcing. He might simply pass. So even though you might (hopefully) at least have raised to game, you could miss a Slam if partner stops bidding. However, shifting to a new suit is forcing. You can go on to support partner's suit next time. Jump-shifting does not deny 4-card support for opener's suit.

Responders reverse

When you have two suits that you could bid, you need to think about your second bid (before you open your big mouth with the first bid !). This is similar in concept to the opener's reverse, and will allow you to be more accurate with the information about the strength of your hand. Your partner will then be better positioned to judge what to bid next.



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