Lesson 6: Responding to overcalls

IMG_20141003_112036An overcall can be obstructive on its own but it is far more effective if your partner holds some support and can raise your overcall to a higher level. This uses up vital biding space your opponents would far rather preserve.

Important points about competitive bidding: –

  • If your opponents have an 8 card fit in a suit, then your side will almost always have an 8 card fit in one of the other suits. So it is an extra good time to compete when your opponents have found a fit.
  • When your side holds the majority of the points, you try to reach the best contract for your side, using as much bidding as you require to ascertain the correct biding level and which suit will be trumps
  • When your side holds the minority of points, your aim is to cause as much disruption as possible to your opponents’ biding, sometimes stealing the contract from them at low levels
  • When you do not expect to make the contact you must never lose more than 1 or 2 tricks (particularly when vulnerable) as this could be a worse outcome than the opposition making a part game.

1 In response to partner’s suit overcall: –

  • PASS – weak hand (no fit guaranteed)
  • Single raise: three or more trumps, 7-10 total points, including distribution
  • New suit: at least five cards. Depending on agreements, either forcing one round or simply constructive. Typically 10+pts
  • Jump shift: A good 5/6card suit and opening bid values or better. Forcing for one round.
  • 1NT: 6-11 pts, no fit, stopper(s) in opener’s suit.

2NT: 12-15 pts, no fit, stopper(s) in opponent’s suit.


2 Response to 1NT overcall (no interference): –


  • PASS – less than 8pts and no 5 card major
  • 2S – 8pts, NT hand with no 4 card major
  • 2NT – 9pts, NT hand with no 4 card major
  • 3NT – 10pts, NT hand with no 4 card major
  • 2C – 8+pts and at least one 4 card major (Staymen)
  • 2D – 0+pts and 5 Hearts (Transfer)
  • 2H – 0+pts and 5 Spades (Transfer)


3 Responses to Takeout Double: –


Normally, (assuming the right hand opponent passes) the doubler’s partner should make a descriptive bid indicating a long suit of his own and the high-card strength:

  • A minimal-level bid of a suit indicates a weak hand (normally, below 9 high-card points).
  • A jump bid of a suit shows a long (at least a 5-card) suit and invites the partner to bid on if the double was not minimal. Normally, such bid is made with 10+ points.
  • A bid of 1NT shows 6-10 pts. and balanced hand with at least one stop in the opponent’s suit. A bid of 2NT shows 11-12 pts. and balanced hand with stop(s) in the bid suit
  • The takeout double can be passed for penalties in extreme situations, when the hand has 5-6 or more excellent trumps. By passing, the doubler’s partner is promising at least three trump tricks.
  • If the right hand opponent bids, the doubler’s partner is not forced to make a bid anymore; if one is made, it is a free bid, indicating a certain minimum strength and/or length in the suit bid (e.g. 6-7 points).

4 Responding to 1NT doubled by partner (right hand opponent passes): –

  • Pass – the double is for penalties
  • 5 card suit and very weak (less than 5 points) bid suit
  • Only a 4 card suit and very weak – Pass


Responses to Overcalls (assume no bidding from opener’s partner)


Opening Overcall    Responder’s hand              Responder             Why

Bid                                                                                      Bid

  1. 1S             2D         xx(S),xx(H),QJxx(D),AJxxx(C)


  1. 1H            2D       xx(S),Jxxx(H),KJx(D),KJxx(C)


  1. 1S           2D       AQx(S),Kx(H),Kxx(D),Qxxxx(C)


  1. 1NT     X        xxxx(S),Kxx(H),Jxxx(D),xx(C)


  1. 1D       1NT   xx(S),Qxxxx(H),Jxx(D),xxx(C)


Opening Overcall     Responder’s hand               Responder             Why

Bid                                                                                      Bid


  1. 1H        X    KQxxx(S),xx(H)Ax(D),Qxxx(C)


  1. 1D     X     Qxx(S),Jxxx(H),Kxx(D),Qxx(C)


  1. 1S   1NT  Jxx(S),Axxx(H),Qxxx(D),Qx(C)


  1. 1NT  2D  Ax(S),QJxxx(H),Kx(D),Jxxx(C)


  1. 1H   X     xxx(S),Qxx(H)Jx(D)KJxxx(C)