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Raising an invitational bid


An area that seems to be changing in competitive bidding is that of raising an invitational bid. The older literature makes it clear that once a bid is defined within a narrow range a simple raise is an invitation but modern bidding theory (negative doubles, fit jumps, etc.) seem to have clouded this issue and many, at least of those playing online tournaments, consider some of these bids forcing.

In traditional literature the most common examples of invitational raises are after a 1NT opening bid:

1NT - P - 2NT

Both 1NT and 2NT limited and therefore 2NT is NF. Or:

1N - P - 2C - P

2S - P - 3S

Both 1NT and two spades are limited so the raise to three spades is non forcing.

This applies equally to suit sequences as well as NT bidding

A common example is after a simple rebid:

1H - P - 1S - P

2H - P - 3H

As two hearts is limited three hearts is invitational and non forcing. Albert Morehead advanced this rule: “--- any bid in a suit previously bid (by either partner) is a limited bid.”

With other raises the non forcing aspect is less obvious.

P - P - 1D - P

2H*-P - 3H -P

* fit showing

The original pass limits the 2H call and therefore the Morehead rule would apply making the 3H call invitational but it seems few ever pass.

This hand is from Judgment at bridge by Lawrence

1C - dbl - P - 1S

2C - 2S* -P - 3S

* Many modern players may play 2S as simply competitive but for this article I will stick with this quote: “west raise to two spades shows 16-18 points with four card trump support. East can anticipate making a game if west has the maximum of his 16 to 18 point range. His three spade bid says ‘if you have a maximum, in terms of what you have already shown, then bid four spades. Otherwise pass” - Mike Lawrence.

This hand may also cloud the issue.

1D - 1H - Dbl - P

2S*- P - 3S





*From an article in the ACBL bulletin by Marty Bergen and supported by Steve Robinson in Washington Standard the 2S bid shows 15-16 support points. With Lawrence and Morehead in mind 3 Spades ask opener to evaluate his hand in terms of previous bidding and with a maximum bid again but with a minimum he may pass.

Does this differ from:

1D - 1H - Dbl - P

3C - P - 4C

Keeping in mind that the negative double shows 5-25 HCP, four spades and “support for a minor” - Steve Robinson It seems the same principles apply. Three clubs is limited and therefore the raise is only invitational.

Some sequences are different and may be confusing:

1C - 1H - Dbl - P

1S - P - 2H*- P


*responder bids 2H with invitational values (16-18) or a stronger hand to be defined later in the auction. Since the one spade bidder may hold no HCP‘s and two spades would confirm no interest the three spade bid must be invitational (about 6-8) and can be passed.

With these few samples in mind I would postulate a rule that a raise of a narrowly defined bid is always invitational. Expert and long term partnerships may make exceptions but these will be rare and therefore a memory strain - beware.

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