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When To Advance The Bid

It is frequently most difficult for a bidder to determine whether he is
justified in advancing his own or his partner's declaration, and when
in doubt it is generally better to err on the side of conservatism.

The continuation of a No-trump without the adverse suit thoroughly
guarded is most dangerous, and should be risked only when the Declarer
is convinced beyond doubt that his holding justifies it, or when the
partner has shown that he can stop the threatening suit.

When the partner, either as Dealer or Second Hand, has declared one
No-trump, the bid has unquestionably been based upon the expectation of
average assistance, and unless able to furnish more, a higher call
should not be made. If, however, the partner bid twice, without aid,
two tricks unquestionably justifies assisting once.

The minimum trick-taking ability with which an original suit
declaration is made being appreciably greater than the number of tricks
contained in a border-line No-trumper, the former should be assisted
with less strength than is required to advance the latter. With two
sure tricks the partner's suit call should be helped once by a player
who has not declared, but whether a No-trump should be aided with just
two tricks and no chance of more is a question depending upon the
judgment of the bidder and upon whether one of the tricks is in the
adverse suit. With two sure high-card tricks and a five-card suit, but
without the adverse suit guarded, the five-card suit is generally the
call, especially if two in it will be sufficient. Three Clubs, however,
should not be declared without due consideration, as that declaration
is recognized as demanding two No-trumps from the partner if he have
the adverse suit stopped.

Being void or holding only a singleton of a suit, especially if it be
the suit declared by the adversary, is to be considered in reckoning
the trick-taking value of a hand which contemplates assisting a
partner's Trump declaration. For example, four small Hearts, the Ace
and three other Clubs, and five small Diamonds, when the partner has
called one Heart, are worth three or four tricks, although the hand
contains but one Ace and no face card. Holding such a combination, a
partner's bid of one Heart should be advanced at least twice.

When a declaration by the dealer is followed by two passes and an
overbid by the right-hand adversary, the dealer is frequently placed in
a doubtful position as to whether he should advance his own bid. Some
authorities contend that with less than six tricks he should wait for
his partner, and while no inflexible rule can be made to cover all such
cases, the follower of this proposition has probably adopted the safest

When the original call has been one No-trump, it is the part of wisdom
with less than six tricks, even if the adverse suit be stopped twice,
to give the partner a chance. If he can furnish more than two tricks,
he will declare, and the Dealer can then, if he so desire, continue the
No-trump, but to bid without first hearing from the partner is
obviously venturesome. If the Dealer have five tricks, that is enough
to save game, but is three tricks short of making two No-trumps.

When the Dealer has declared a strong No-trump with one unprotected
suit and his right-hand adversary calls two in that suit, it is
manifestly unwise to continue the No-trump. Holding six sure tricks in
a higher-valued suit or seven in a lower, it is probably wise to bid
two or three, as the exigencies of the case may require, in that suit.

In close cases, when advancing or declining to advance the partner's
bid, the personal equation should be a most important, if not the
deciding, factor. Some players are noted for their reckless declaring;
with such a partner the bidding must be ultra-conservative. Other
players do not regard conventional rules in their early declarations.
The bids of a partner of this kind should not be increased unless the
hand contain at least one trick more than the number that normally
would justify an advance.

When playing against a bidder who has the habit of overbidding, full
advantage should be taken of his weakness, and whenever possible he
should be forced to a high contract he may be unable to fulfil.

When a dealer who has opened with one Spade, or any other player who
has passed the first round, subsequently enters the bidding, he gives
unmistakable evidence of length but not strength. This is a secondary
declaration, and the maker plainly announces, "I will take many more
tricks with this suit Trump than any other; indeed, I may not win a
trick with any other Trump."

Overbidding a partner's secondary declaration, or counting upon it for
tricks when doubling an adversary who has overcalled it, shows
inexcusable lack of understanding of the modern system of declaring.

Next: When To Overbid The Partner

Previous: Continuation Of The Bidding

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