I don't mind playing in a seven card fit with say, AKxx opposite Qxx. There is a danger that I'll lose control because of the shortness of the suit, but having three top tricks and a chance at a long or ruffing trick for the fourth small trump represents compensation. On the other hand, I do mind playing with say, Qxxx opposite Jxx.

The other issue is that while 26 points is ordinarily enough to make a major suit game with eight trumps, it requires 28-29 with only seven.

So if there is likely to be a seven card suit, e.g. when an opener raises a major suit opposite a responding "one over one" bid or negative double with four cards, how do bidders deal with this issue? My understanding, for instance, is that openers will need Qxx or better to raise, not just xxx. Do the bidders make other adjustments to assure two or three top honors in suit between them? And what about the higher point requirement?

Or is one factor in the unpopularity of seven card fits due to the fact that there are "few" established bidding methods for them?

2 Answers 2


Good bidders prefer to rebid in NT with any balanced or semi-balanced (ie no singleton) hand when a 4-card raise is unavailable. This quickly refines both range and distribution of the opener's hand, enabling more precise bidding by both partners. Only weak players rush to either show 3-card support or to rebid 5-card suits.

One exception to this rule is in a competitive auction where 3-card support is combined with shortness in the opposition's suit. Having a doubleton or singleton in opponent's suit as well as 3-card support is information too valuable to either hide or delay showing in a competitive auction. Knowing that the ruffing value is well placed, and with opponent's fit known to increase the likelihood that partner has a 5-card suit, the risk of a Moysian is reduced.

Further, established partnerships generally play New Minor Forcing (or some other check-back convention) over opener's NT rebids to facilitate finding both 4-4 and 5-3 fits in Responder's suit(s).


1) Standard American (or 2/1) is almost unique among systems in considering the 3 card raise (after 1-over-1) a normal bid. It's generally not allowed in Acol, SEF, or Forum D (the standard English, French, and German systems), although one occasionally has to do it as the least bad lie (when the alternatives are bidding 1N with a bad singleton, rebidding a mediocre 5 card minor, or reversing without sufficient strength). It should be noted that, in those places, conventions to uncover 5-3 fits after a 1N rebid (Checkback Stayman, New Minor Forcing, Roudi, and the like) are more frequently played.

2) Some American pairs who frequently raise on 3 cards after 1-over-1 auctions employ some variation of the Spiral Raise convention, where the next cheapest bid is artificial and asks opener if they have a minimum or a maximum and if they have 3 or 4 card support. Various versions of this may also allow opener to show further features of their hand such as specific singletons.

3) Barring any conventions, it is common when one is in this situation for someone to offer NT as a place to play. Either responder bids 2N or 3N with only 4, or opener bids 3N at some point to show only 3. Both offer the possibility of playing in NT.

4) When opponents have jumped into the bidding, one loses some of these options, especially since NT bids now have to promise a stopper. However, one now has double and cue bids available as artificial bids, and some partnerships assign some useful meanings to these. In particular, the support double - which allows opener to promise precisely 3 card support so that raises promise 4 - is quite common among Standard American players. I'm sure some pairs employ some variation of the Rosenkranz double (originally for when partner has overcalled) to distinguish 3 card support with and without a high honor.

  • " Standard American (or 2/1) is almost unique among systems in considering the 3 card raise (after 1-over-1) a normal bid." I was just reading an old copy of Goren that said not to bid 1 over 1 with a suit weaker than Qxxx, and not to raise such a response with less than Qxx (at least one partner has to have a higher honor than Q or an extra spot. So the worst possible is Qxxx opposite Kxx, which is better than Qxxx opposite Jxx.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 2:24

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