In the game of bridge theorists, authors, and experts have long debated what significance should be given to the four suit bids on the three level following a 1 No Trump opening by partner. Many suggestions were made and many were adopted. In modern times there is a multitude of such suggestions, and the bridge player should have a certain understanding of the general approaches or response methods and inform himself about individual partnership schemes.

List of Possible Response Methods

Generally speaking many bridge partnerships employ an immediate jump to 3 Clubs as either weak or as a possible slam try, depending on the No Trump values.

South
97
674
Q5
AQ10865
West   North   East   South   Meaning
Pass   1 NT           Balanced distribution and 15-17 range.
        Pass   3   Shows few values and a long Club suit with a minimum of 5 Clubs and several honors. Shows no ambitions for game. However, the No Trump bidder, holding in this example KJ may decide to continue to game in 3 No Trump.

However, other partnerships agree to employ a first response of 3 Clubs as a slam try in Clubs.

South
AJ
K74
Q5
AQ10865
West   North   East   South   Meaning
Pass   1 NT           Balanced distribution and 15-17 range.
        Pass   3   Shows at least game values and a long Club suit with a minimum of 5 Clubs and several honors / working values. Shows ambitions not only for game in No Trump or Clubs, but also strongly suggests a possible slam try in Clubs, if not in No Trump if all suits contain the necessary top honors as first-round controls.

First Things First

Individual partnership agreements have expanded over the years to include only three level first responses in order to show distribution, but also to indicate a weak holding as opposed to a strong holding.

When the partnership employs the conventional method known as Four Suit Transfers, then such three-level first responses are then an extension of this method.It is customary, but not mandatory, to employ the three-level response scheme in association with Four Suit Transfer bids following partner's bid of 1 No Trump as shown below:

2 : Transfer to Hearts.
2 : Transfer to Spades.
2 : Transfer to Clubs.
2 NT: Transfer to Diamonds.

Note: Individual partnership agreements may retain the understanding that a first response of 2 No Trump is natural and not a transfer bid in order to maintain this possibility. This requires then that the partnership can only agree to transfer to Clubs and then the responder can either pass or correct. This method shows weak values, as illustrated in the following example:

2 : Transfer to Hearts.
2 : Transfer to Spades.
2 : Transfer to Clubs.
2 NT: Natural raise of the No Trump bid with 8/9 points.

There are other possible variations on this theme, but the end effect is the same in communicating the pertinent information to partner.

Three Level Responses

As an addition to the conventional method of Four Suit Transfers it became immediately clear and obvious that all first responses on the three-level were idle bids. They were not employed and, as a result, theorists and experts, drafted possible uses, theorized as to how they could more clearly communicate accurate information. Most of the offered suggestions were tried and promoted, but these methods lacked the support of the general bridge community.

This changed dramatically as soon as one bridge player suggested that such three-level first responses show two-suited distribution and at the same time showing either weak values or possible game forcing values.

Parameters of the Concept

The following examples and structure of three-level first responses is one of several solutions to this situation. The reader should first review and consider any and all positive effects of this response scheme. The response scheme is dissected below, but the reader should remember that it is employed by those partnerships, who agree to use four suit transfer bid except for the 2 No Trump first response, which is then natural.

NT Bidder   Opponent   Responder   Meaning
1 NT           The range is generally 15 to 17 points and balanced distribution. (Note: the response structure can, however, be modified for other No Trump ranges.
    Pass   2 NT   The responder promises the normal 8-9 points and semi-flat distribution. This first response is only invitational. With maximum values of the agreed No Trump range, then the No Trump bidder should bid game.
    Pass   3   This first response promises a 5-5 distribution in both Minor suits. The bid promises only weak values. Non-forcing. (Note: this bid may be also considered invitational by the partnership.)
    Pass   3   This first response promises a 5-5 distribution in both Minor suits. The bid promises game values. The partnership can agree as to whether the response is only one-round forcing or whether the bid should be always game forcing.
    Pass   3   This first response promises a 5-5 distribution in both Major suits. The bid promises only weak and/or invitational values.
    Pass   3   This first response promises a 5-5 distribution in both Major suits. The bid promises a game-forcing holding and partner may not pass.

Additional Information

The partnership must discuss possible remedies when there is an immediate interference from the next player in rotation. The partnership should be aware of the agreed definition of any and all bids by the immediate opponent. There are multiple defense methods against an opening bid of 1 No Trump. The general, and perhaps most preferred method of handling any immediate interference is to use the guideline of whether to ignore any interference if the bid has not interfered with the normal response scheme. However, if the interference does disturb any communication between partners, then the partnership should preferably play systems off. This is a matter for individual discussion.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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