Responding to Partner's Overcall

Overcalls come in a variety of types, anchored by the simple overcall — they open the bidding, you bid something at a minimum level, as in 1 ♥ — 1 ♠. Or, they open the bidding, your partner passes, the next hand responds in some way, and you bid, as in 1 ♥ — Pass — 2 ♥ — 2 ♠. This, too, is a simple overcall.

Requirements for simple overcalls were covered earlier in this chapter. What was not discussed was your responsibilities as the partner of the overcaller, the “advancer” in bridge lingo. What should you do when your partner overcalls?

When your partner overcalls, the more of her trumps you hold, the more aggressive you can be in the bidding, especially if you have shortness in some other suit. If you can bid to a high level immediately in response to your partner's overcall, you rob the opponents of precious bidding space, and you have the protection of lots of trumps between the two hands.

Your action as advancer depends on your hand, and your choices are as follows:

  • With no trump fit for your partner's suit, fewer than 10 high-card points and no good suit of your own to bid, pass.

  • If you would have raised your partner's suit if he had opened the bidding instead of overcalling, do so directly unless third hand has bid and you will have to go to the three level to raise. Your raise to the two level does not promise much.

  • If you have trump support and your hand evaluates to 10 or more support points, make a cuebid in opener's suit. That is, if opener started with 1 ♣ and partner overcalled 1 ♠, a bid of 2 ♣ by you tells your partner that you have trump support and at least 10 support points.

  • With at least four-card trump support and some shape — a singleton or void — and a weak hand, make a jump raise in partner's suit (for example, bid 3 ♠ if partner overcalled 1 ♠). You have a cuebid available to show a forward-going hand, so partner will not misunderstand your jump raise.

  • With no fit for partner but with at least 10 HCP and a stopper in opener's suit, bid 1NT. On rare occasions, you will have enough to bid 2NT (12 — 14).

  • If your partner knows he can rely on you to raise with support after he overcalls, he won't bid his suit again after you pass unless he really has the goods.

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    3. Competitive Bidding, Part 1
    4. Responding to Partner's Overcall
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