sequence, do I need 5 hearts to make a "free bid?"
(1D) - X -
(1S) - ?
you are in the "advancer" seat, responding to partner's
Takeout Double. As you mentioned, should you make an optional
bid it's called a "freebid" - one you made based on some extra values.
respond at the lowest level step with 0-8 points, so if
you make a freebid it's reasonable for partner to expect you to have the
upper-half of your range, 5-8 distributional points in this case.
that you can make this bid with 4 Hearts - partner is
promising at least 3 Hearts making the Takeout Double. If you have 5 Hearts,
good for you; add an extra "length" distributional point for the 5 card
players prefer that you must have 5 Hearts to make a
2 level bid - they would prefer you to double Right Hand Opponent's
bid with only 4 Hearts.
play one treatment or the other may be illuminated by
the following auction:
(1C) - X -
(1H) - ?
Would you bid
1S with 4 or 5+ Spades? Most players agree that
1S requires 5+ Spades (using a Negative Double with 4 Spades), while
others (a minority) play that only 4 Spades are necessary to overcall 1S;
those in the later camp would use the Negative Double as a takeout in the
Unfortunately, a few players advocate advancer's Double here is for penalty,
since the Takeout Doubler is promising Hearts! As we can see, partnership
agreements are in order!
Let's look at
the big picture for a moment - the opener should have
12+ points for the opening bid. Partner typically has 12+
distributional points (counting shortage points since the hand will be
Dummy). Responder should have 6+ distributional points to make a suit
call - they too are making a freebid. So everyone expects you to have
but about 5-8 points to make your 2 level bid.
You want to compete in a very
dynamic auction - all four players bidding. Let's digress to some similar
you should have 5 Hearts. In essence, you are ignoring your
Left Hand Opponent's 1D bid. As you've previously learned, you
should have 5+ cards and 10+ points in a suit to make 2 level response (the
"five and dime" bid). While you may not be comfortable bidding 1NT
without a Diamond stopper, you are required to first show your points (1
level with 6-9/10 points). Notice how your 1NT bid takes up the smallest
bidding space, efficiently conserving bidding room. And after
all, you would rather that your partner has Diamonds over
opener's suit bid instead of you, correct?
you could always bid 1H or 1S holding only 4 Hearts and 0-8
points. Bidding 2H or 2S does not promise 5 Hearts
either. It simply shows 9-11 points. On a good day, perhaps you will have 5+
Hearts, but don't hold your breath waiting for those hands.
quite a few players prefer partner to have 5+ cards in the unbid major to
make the call, anticipating the advancer to use a Negative Double with less
than a 5 card suit. Others do not use such a restrictive treatment. While a
few actually use advancer's Double for penalty (obviously best when
opponents' are vulnerable). Unfortunately, you will not find bridge
books offer a definitive treatment in this area, but Mike Lawrence's "Double!
New Meanings for Old Bid" and "Contested
Auctions" offer useful insights.
I suggest you
discuss these sequences with your regular partners.
With pickup online partners, try to get a feel of their anticipated
treatment based on the sophistication of their Convention Card. If their
conventional treatments show a more aggressive approach, consider responding
at the 2 level with a 4 card major - hopefully partner will not "hang you".