Playing Bridge: Rebidding After Your Limited Response of 1NT

By Eddie Kantar

When you respond 1NT to your partner’s opening bid in bridge, you limit your hand, showing six to ten HCP, and your partner is captain. Nevertheless, developments may force you to make yet another decision. Here are a few of those developments.

Sticking with notrump

Take a look at these cards to see some hands in which your partner’s rebid may invite you to bid again.

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You may still be up to bat after your 1NT response.

For each of the hands above, the bidding has gone as follows:

Opener (Your Partner) Responder (You)
1♠ 1NT
?  

If your partner has a balanced hand and wants to keep the bidding in notrump, she’ll make one of the following bids:

  • Pass: Your partner has no hope for game (has 15 or fewer HCP). You (responder) are off the hook.
  • 2NT: This invitational bid shows 17 HCP with a good five-card suit or 18 HCP. If you like notrump, bid 3NT with eight to ten HCP and pass with six or seven HCP. The ball is back in your court.
  • 3NT: Your partner counts 25 points between the two hands (she must be looking at 19 or more HCP). The one who knows goes! You’re off the hook again.

If your partner invites you to game by bidding 2NT, refuse the invitation by passing with the first two hands. With the third hand, accept and bid 3NT.

Choosing between two of your partner’s suits

After your 1NT response, your partner may choose to bid a second suit. Unless you have a six-card suit of your own, your partner wants to know which of those two suits you prefer.

If you have an equal number of cards in both suits, take your partner back to the first suit. Either she has equal length in both suits or (more likely) the first suit is longer.

These cards show you a hand in which you must choose between two suits that your partner bids.

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Choose carefully between your partner’s suits.

For this hand, the bidding has gone as follows:

Opener (Your Partner) Responder (You)
1♠ 1NT
2♥ 2♠
Pass  

In this bidding sequence, your partner’s opening bid of 1♠ says, “I like this chapter. I get an opening bid on every hand.” Your 1NT response says, “Stop your crowing; I have nothing again.” When your partner rebids 2♥, she asks you, “Which of my suits do you like better?” Your 2♠ response says, “I don’t like either one, but I prefer spades to hearts because I have an equal number of cards in both suits. Besides, Kantar is watching my every move.”

When your partner passes, the unspoken message is, “Thanks for giving me a break and allowing me to play this hand in spades, where we have seven trumps between our two hands, not in hearts, where we have only six.” Obviously, you need to outgun the opponents in the trump suit — not necessarily in terms of the high cards, but more in the numerical department. You must have more trumps than they do, or else bad things can happen — very bad things. Don’t ask.

Ideally, you want to have eight or more trump cards between the two hands every time you play a trump contract. However, in the real world, you don’t always have an eight-card fit. You may have to make do with a seven-card trump fit. If you wind up playing a contract with fewer than seven trump cards between the two hands, the wheels have come off.

So when giving preferences to your partner, make sure you concentrate on playing in the trump suit in which you expect to have the most cards, not the one in which you have the highest cards.

Going with your own long suit

With this hand, you get a second chance to bid your own long suit.

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When the two hands don’t mesh, you may choose to bid your own long suit.

In this hand, the bidding has gone as follows:

Opener (Your Partner) Responder (You)
1♠ 1NT
2♥ 3♣
Pass  

If your bids could talk, they’d be shouting the following messages to each other:

1: “I have five or more spades with 12 or more HCP.”

1NT: “Good for you. I have a weak hand with only six HCP, but I have to respond, or you’ll disown me. I’m not nearly strong enough to bid 2♣ with this particular six-card suit, which would show eleven or more HCP, so I am hedging with 1NT.” (If the club suit were stronger you could bid 2♣ directly with only 10 HCP. AKJxxx, AQJxxx, and AK109xx are examples of suits that would require only 10 HCP to respond 2♣.)

2: “Hey, there. Hearts is my second suit. Which of my two suits do you like better?”

3: “I hate both of your suits, but I have a pretty strong six-card suit of my own, which is clubs.”

Pass: “This is the end of the trail, amigo. You have shown six or more clubs, and we have an eight-card fit, but because you guarantee a weak hand and I have a minimum hand, I know enough to get out of this mess right now.”

When your partner bids two suits, just remember the following points:

  • With an equal number of cards in each suit, take your partner back to her first suit. However, if you have a strong six-card suit of your own without support for either of your partner’s suits, bid it!
  • To raise your partner’s second suit directly, you need four-card support because you should assume that your partner has four cards in a second bid suit, and you’re looking for an eight-card trump fit.