by: Kitty and Steve Cooper

When deciding what to do over your partner’s response to your opening bid of one of a suit remember your bidding objectives: finding out if there is an eight card or longer major suit fit and if the partnership has the 26 points (or 14 losers) needed for game.

Let’s cover the easiest case first. Suppose you open one of a major and partner gives you a limit raise. Since partner has shown 11-12 support points, conventional wisdom is to bid game with a good 14 or more points and consider slam with about 20 points. Forget that. This is the time when you want to use losing trick count, covered in the previous article in this series, to evaluate. Partner has shown an eight loser hand so bid game with six losers. If you have four losers you should think about slam.

Onward to the tougher cases. What does partner’s response to your opening bid tell you about your possible major suit fits and your partnership points? If you know that the partnership cannot have 26 points or 14 losers, you want to pass or make a sign-off bid. If you have found an eight card major fit, that’s the suit you want to have for a trump suit so raise it. Here is a chart showing the three categories to divide your opening hand into:

Point Range Category Opposite a
Minimum Raise
When Raising
13-15 (6 or 7 losers) Minimum pass two level
16-18 (or 5 losers) Medium invite three level
19-21 (or 4 losers) Maximum game game


  1. Is there an eight card major suit fit? The priorities, in order, are: raise partner’s major, bid a new major at the one level, or “raise” yourself. So with four card support for partner’s suit or a six card or longer suit of your own:
    • • Raise to two with a minimum
    • • Raise to three with a medium strength hand (or a five loser hand)
    • • Raise to game with a maximum. When raising a minor this can mean bidding 3NT.
  2. Is your hand balanced? If so then:
    • • With a minimum rebid the cheapest number of NT or pass partner’s NT response
    • • You will not have a medium hand unless you have a five card major, since you would have opened 1NT. If you did open one of a major with 15 or 16 HCP, then you have to rebid two of a three card minor. Note that if you have a four card minor you are not balanced.
    • • With a maximum, jump in NT or raise partner’s NT bid one level. This can include 17 HCP with a five card major or possibly a six card minor not suitable for a three level jump rebid.
  3. Your hand must be unbalanced, therefore bid a new suit if possible
    • • A minimum hand can only bid a new suit when it can be bid below two of the suit that was opened. Therefore sometimes a minimum hand has to rebid a five card suit, this will usually be a minor.<
    • • A medium hand makes a natural rebid of a second suit. Note that a reverse, (bidding a new suit higher than two of the suit opened, for example 1C-1S-2H) promises at least medium strength values.
    • • A maximum hand needs to force to game. Therefore a maximum must either jump in a new suit (a strong jump shift) or reverse and then follow with another strong bid or bid of game.


Some of this material has been previously published by Kitty Cooper as charts to assist in the schools teaching program on

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