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What is the Quality of your Overcall?

Excerpt from Finesse Magazine (www.militos.org/finesse)

What is the quality of your overcall?

by Giorgio Duboin

When I was asked to give a bridge tip for the “Finesse” my first thought was to give some insight about card playing. However, this could help only some players depending on their level. Therefore, I would like to illustrate a very simple and easy convention that can be used by everyone. When partner overcalls at the one level, it is standard practice to use a cue bid to show at least a constructive raise in partner’s suit or any strong hand. If partner has a minimum hand, he repeats his suit at the cheapest level. But as the range (especially non-vulnerable) is quite big, which hands do we consider minimum? We could overcall just to pinpoint the lead with KQJ10x xxx xxx xx or with a balanced 13HCP not good enough to make a move. Hence, there is a need for a subtler differentiation of the quality of the overcall. For that reason, I strongly recommend a simple switch that can solve this problem. When the opening is 1 there is not much that you can do but when the opening is 1 or 1 we can switch the meaning of 2 with the meaning of the cue bid.

Practically we have:

  • 1 1 pass: 2 = cue bid | 2 = 5+ F1
  • 1 1 pass: 2 = cue bid | 2 = 5+ F1
  • 1 1 pass: 2 = cue bid | 2 = 5+ F1

After the 2 cue bid we have more space to describe our hand. We can use the artificial 2 response to show a decent overcall but not enough good to bypass the 2 major level and the repetition of the suit to show a very minimum hand.

Let’ see some examples:

  • xx KQJxx xxx xxx
  • Qxxx KQJxx xx xx
  • xx KQJxx xx Qxxx
  • xx KQJxx Qxx Jxx

With these hands after your overcall of 1 on 1 you should rebid 2 on your partner’s 2 showing a super minimum.

  • xx KQJxx xxx Axx
  • Qx KQJxx Jxx Kxx
  • Kx KQJxx xx Qxxx
  • Kxxx KQJxx Qx xx

With these hands after your overcall of 1 on 1 when partner bids 2 you rebid 2 showing a normal overcall.

Using this approach, we can also use the 2 bid with better hand than the ones above but not necessarily forcing to game, then when partner rebids our major we can make another bid to show a mild game try. Over 2 any direct rebid higher than our major at level two becomes forcing to game. After a 1 overcall that features a 4 hearts side suit, we must bid 2 after partner’s 2 relay, not specifying any strength for the moment.

Let’s see the responder’s point of view. With Kxxx Axx A10xx Kx the auction is:

A.

W
N
E
S
1
1
P
2
P
2

or

B.

W
N
E
S
1
1
P
2
P
2

In example A. we can make a move (note that 3NT could be the best contract even with a major fit) while in example B. we have an easy pass. If partner bids anything above of 2, we can make a slam try.

It is possible to codify all the subsequent options, with agreements about later interference and also specifying suit length and suit quality, but I can guarantee that even simple version isa heavy winner!

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