Bidding to game or slam
How can we keep our options for bidding game in bridge open and still keep the bidding low?
Sometimes when we are bidding, we have a feeling that there might be enough strength between the two hands to bid game or slam, but we don't want to push too hard. We don't want to invite partner by bidding higher only to find that we end up too high. How can we keep our options open?
East passes, South passes, West passes, North bids 1♠. I bid 1NT with nine high card points, no spade fit. North bids 2♥. It doesn't matter what system we are playing, 1♠ - 2♥ will show five spades and four hearts. It can't be four of each because North would've either opened up something else or bid no trumps.
How strong can North be in this auction? Well North opened the bidding, so North's going to have at least 12 points. What's the most North can have? Let's just be careful with this. Can North be say 16, could North be 17 points or would North have done something else with 16 or 17? What do you think?
Let's suppose, for example, North had five spades, four hearts, two diamonds and two clubs and 16 points and the bidding has been 1♠ - 1NT. What can North do here with 16? North can't bid 3♥ because jumping in a new suit to the three level here would be forcing to game. And remember South has only shown six to nine. So if South has got six and North has got 16, that's only 22 points between the two hands. So North's not strong enough to bid 3♥ because that would just get the bidding too high.
North could bid 2NT, but maybe still a bit pushy. And the problem here is that North hasn't shown that four card heart suit, so that's not ideal either. So with 16 points or even 17 points with five spades and four hearts North can really only bid two hearts.
So we know that North has five spades, four hearts and 12 to 16 or 17 points. Have we got enough for game? Well, probably not, but maybe. If we don't have enough strength for game, what's the best contract likely to be? We know North's got five spades in four hearts. So we seem to have a seven card spade fit, five in Nrth, two and South and probably a seven card heart fit, four in North, three and south. We've got seven card fit in both majors. Either one could be okay and maybe North's got five spades and five hearts. So two hearts in that case is probably better. The point is we don't really care whether we play in two hearts or two spades here.
But what I will do here is bid 2♠ just to keep the bidding going in case North has a strong hand.
Imagine I had a weaker hand.
This time I would pass, removing North's temptation to bid again.