Polling You #47: Slam Bidding – Gerber Part 2, Day 7, March 2, 2011

Contract Bridge Slam Bidding: Gerber Convention, Part 2

Mother never promised making a Notrump contact would always be easy. Dad went one further, telling to be extra careful playing in a Notrump slam contract. Sure enough, as we get more mature we realize our parents were usually right about life and Bridge.

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When it comes to Gerber bidding, it turns out wise players make an extra effort to discuss some of the extraordinary Gerber slam bids than come up from time to time. In today’s blog, videos, and polls we share our views and offer you the opportunity to test your knowledge.

Slam Notrump Considerations

1. Self-Sustaining Suit versus Misfits

2. Hand Evaluation: Trick-taking Power

3. Conventional Agreements

4. Play of the Hand: Analysis

Fits, Misfits and Conundrums:

We first search for major suit fits.

If not, we look for stoppers to play in a Notrump contract.

Without stoppers, we revert to a minor suit contract.

Still worse, we face a misfit between the two hands.

Notrump Distributional Points:

Our goal is to take tricks – when investigating slam, we seek extra critical tricks:

1. Long minor suit, as a 6+ card suit

2. Partnership fit, as a 5-4 or 5-3 suit with top honors

3. Balanced hand with top honors

4. Misfits can be a problem, requiring special tactics (squeeze play, all or none finesse, etc)

Examples of Self-Sustaining Suits:

Excellent 7 card suit:   A K Q 6 5 4 3

Strong 6 card suit:        A K J 10 4 3

Okay 6 card suit:           A J 10 9 3 2

Poor 7 card suit:            K 10 6 5 4 3 2

Hand Evaluation – How we take tricks:

1. Distribution:  Suit length 7, 6, 5 or a great 5 card suit

2. Finesse – Tenaces as:  A K J,  A Q 10,  A J 10,   K J 10

3. Unguarded Kings as:   K x x   Beware the dangerous opponent (RHO)

Needed Slam Conventi9onal Agreements:

1N – 2C;
2H – 4N;       Quantitative Slam Try (not Blackwood)

1N – 2C;
2H – 4C;        Gerber Ace-ask according to modern methods

1N – 2D;        Jacoby Transfer
2N – 4N;       “Probably” Blackwood (unless also playing Texas Transfers)

1C – 4C ?       Could be inviting game, or perhaps Ace-asking (Minorwood)

3N – 4C ?      Could be Stayman or Gerber

3N – 5C ?      Could be “to play” or perhaps “Super Gerber” Ace ask

3N – 4D ?      Some even use this as Stayman with 4C as Gerber !

1S – 2D;
3C – 3H;
3N – 4C / 5C ?   Which is Gerber, Ace ask, or 5C signoff ?

Play of the Hand Considerations:

1. Finesse, know the odds, how and when to take a shot

2. Promotion, know the odds and consider transportation

3. Counting the hand, both opponents honors and suit distribution

4. Make deductions based on opponents leads, play, and discards

5. Safety plays – beware of the dangerous opponent (RHO playing though unguarded suit)

6. Table feel , mannerisms, gestures, pauses, hesitations, etc

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Warm Regards,



  1. Jeff Holst says:

    One of the questions regarded the treatment of the sequence 3NT-4C. Frankly, I think a natural 3NT bid is terrible precisely becaus it takes up so much bidding space and it presents this particular bidding problem. I personally prefer that 3NT be gambling, showing a long running minor and no outside A or K. The 4C is neither Gerber or Stayman – it is a run-out to openers minot. Opener will pass or correct.

    Better with these big hands is to open 2C and then jump to 3NT. Of course, you may have simply delayed the issue – what is 4C by responder at this point. A possible solution to this problem is to use the Kokish relay, where opener’s 3H rebid shows either a strong heart suit or a game forcing NT hand. Responder normally bids 2S and opener bids 2NT with the 25-26 point hand. Now there is plenty of room to bid stayman, jacoby, and texas. 4C after opener’s 2NT is now unambiguously Gerber. The ambiguity is now transferred to the 27+ point hands. When was the last time you had one of those?

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Jeff,
      Excellent write-up! Yes, for the serious Bridge player you’ve underscored both a great conventional treatment and a logical explanation to support your recommended treatment. And as a result, these days most tourney Duplicate Bridge players reserve the 3 Notrump opening bid to show a weak hand with a long minor suit (Gambling 3 Notrump bid).
      Good job, Michael
  2. BridgeHands says:
    Greetings Pollsters,
    And so as we compare notes on our second session exploring John Gerber’s 4 Club conventions, our polling votes are nearly unamious. In response to the question regarding which sequence is NOT a Gerber:
    90 percent agree: 1C – 3C; 4C
    Perhaps a few advanced players might actually play this as 3C inviting game, followed by 4C as “Minorwood” Ace asking so it’s always wise to double check your partnership agreements. So in your Gerber wrap-up training we’ve reinforced our common understanding using Gerber over a Notrump auction and come to appreciate that partnership agreements are a good investment of our time!
    Happy Bridge Trails,

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