Basic Bidding 14 - Game Tries

By Kitty and Steve Cooper

When partner raises your major to the two level their range is 6‑10 points, a fairly wide range. When you have 19+ points or five losers you know what to do, you bid a game; if you have 13‑15 you know game is very unlikely so you pass with seven or more losers. With either 16‑18 or a six loser hand, you want to ask partner’s opinion. In the beginner system, you passed with 16 and bid three with 17‑18, telling partner to bid game when they had the top of their previous bid, 8‑10. Did you ever notice that there are several other bids available besides just reraising the major? For example, what does 2NT mean? How about three of a new suit?

Balanced Suit Game Tries

When you hold a balanced hand with 16‑17 points bid 2NT as a game try. Remember that when you have a five card major you do not have to open 1NT as long as you have a comfortable rebid. Finding major suit fits is very important in bridge.

Specific Suit Game Tries

You can use three of a suit to ask partner to look at their holding in that suit when making a decision about bidding a game; it shows a side suit in which you need help, usually honor third or fourth (e.g., A54, K654, or Q974 ). Hands which aren’t balanced and don’t have a clear side suit that needs help can bid three of our suit as a general game try.

If you have a good side suit that includes at least two top honors you don't need any help from partner in it, so you can make a game try in a different side suit, perhaps one in which you hold honor third.

Now that you can make a game try in a specific suit, many hands are worth a game try with less than 16 points if they have six losers, Suppose you hold S AQJ54   H K432   D A65   C 2. This hand will make a game if partner has the right heart holding, as will this hand:  S KJ19876   H A432   D 2   C A2. Notice that they are both six loser hands. The key to recognizing this hand type is to look at losers, assuming partner has honor third of trump and honor doubleton in the suit you are making a try in; ask yourself if, in that case, there will be only three real losers.

An aside: Many more advanced players prefer to play that bidding three of the major is not a game try at all but just an attempt to keep the opponents out of the auction and shows six or more cards in the major. This is called a bar bid. It is obviously more useful when you have hearts since the enemy can easily bid 2S. When you have long spades without the values to invite there is no compelling reason to get to the three level unless the opponents push you there.

When Does Responder Accept a Game Try?

All ten point hands accept, as do nine point hands with eight losers. Hands with fewer points or more losers only accept if perfect for the suit in question. For example, partner bids 1S and you raise to 2S holding this nine loser hand S J1054   H A3   D K765   C 543, and partner now bids 3H, asking for help in hearts; do you bid a game? Yes, you have a fine holding in hearts - ace or king doubleton is an excellent holding in partner’s long suit - and since you have four trumps partner will be able to ruff their long hearts (honor third is also a decent holding but three small isn’t). What if partner had bid 3C? Now you would turn partner down. Three small clubs is the worst possible holding for partner. Another thing to consider is loser count. Partner is expected to have six losers for his try so with eight and a suitable hand you accept. With more losers (this hand has nine losers), you look carefully at your holding in the suit he is asking about. Partner’s hand for the three club bid was S AQ432  H K4   D A72   C K754. There are two sure losers in clubs and one in diamonds plus two finesses to take; if both the ace of clubs and the king of spades are unfavorably placed you will go down in 3H! Swap his clubs and hearts so that he would have made a try in hearts and now the game is good.

When partner makes a try in the other major and you have four or more cards in that suit and an accept of the game try, raise the new suit e.g., 1H-2H, 2S-3S. The 4‑4 fit may well take more tricks than the 5‑3, so offer it. When you aren’t sure whether you should accept partner’s game try, with 8‑9 points you can make a counter game try by bidding another suit below three of our major to show where your side strength is.

Responder Can Also Make Game Tries When Opener Raises Responder’s Major 

Consider the auction 1D-1H-2H; responder can bid 2S, 2NT, 3C, or even 3D(which is forcing) as game tries. With 13-14 points opener looks at their holding in that suit to decide whether to bid a game. With six losers or 15 or more points, opener just bids game.

Ed note: Loser count was covered in Basic Bidding 4, on the web at‑trick‑count


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