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With 5-card support for the minor, I would always raise it and let opener decide if a game in notrumps would be preferable.

With exactly 4-card support, should you raise it or bid NT (probably with a balanced hand)? Is the response different when playing Inverted Minor Raises?

3

I'm assuming some form of Standard American/French/German with 5 card majors and strong NT.

Playing the most common form of inverted minors:

With <10 points, 1N (but I would consider a tactical 3D with S:x H:xxx D:KQxx C:xxxxx)

With 10+ points(*), 2D with diamonds and a small doubleton or singleton in a major, and usually NT otherwise(**).

Not playing inverted minors, I think any non-forcing raise with 4 cards is usually problematic, but if you're playing forcing jump raises, 3m with 4 works.

(*) Experts seem to be switching to 2m being game forcing, with invitational hands bidding an artificial 2S or 2N or 2D(for clubs) or 3C(for diamonds).

(**) There are some advantages to making 2N forcing, in which case you have to bid 2m with 4 card support and 10-12 points.

2

Same basic assumption as Alexander.

In Inverted Minors, the rules for a raise are pretty strict for clubs: 5+, for most people. Diamonds can be looser, because it's rare to have to open 1d with 3 diamonds (only 4-4-3-2 s-h-d-c), so 1d-2d is okay with four - but that's a partnership understanding, and make sure you both agree on that. I would say the rules for a raise to 2d or 3d are the same; points are the only real differentiating factor.

Larry Cohen explains this in his article on inverted minors, and I think that's a good starting place. 1N is a totally fine place in his system, which is pretty standard, if you don't have anything else useful to say - it defines your points, and denies 4C major support.

However, there is some disagreement there. This article by Hamilton Bridge Centre gives a good argument for four card raises, even weak inverted 1c-3c raises: that opener has 4 cards 85% (clubs) and 97% (diamonds), so it's still a safe bet you'll have an 8 card fit. I'm not sure I agree there; I'm okay using the 1N response in some of those cases. But it's acceptable to do so if you agree with partner on it, I think; you gain some by removing the possibility from the 1N response after all.

In non-inverted minors, I don't think it makes a big difference - still generally 5 card support 100% safe, 4 card support with diamonds at least, but agree with your partner being the 100% most important bit.

1
  • Good outline. I'd add to the proposal by the Hamilton Bridge Centre that some judgement should always be exercised by the Responder: "Does the hand look notrumpish or suitish?" If undecided, follow the strict letter of the System. – Forget I was ever here Jul 3 '20 at 19:23
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Agreeing with everyone (especially Forget... when it comes to "suitish or notrumpish"? But a reminder that while 1D-3D frequently gets passed, 1D-2D frequently ends up in 3NT anyway) when RHO passes. These days, RHO often doesn't pass.

When RHO comes in, I am much more likely to raise on 4 than bid NT. I could have no stopper in RHO's suit. I could "see" the cross-ruff with a singleton in RHO's suit (or with 4!). I could just want NT, if played, to be played by partner, so the stronger hand is concealed and RHO-who-doubled has to make the opening lead (LHO will know which suit to lead, RHO has more of a guess!).

But the big reason that will get me to raise-on-4 is that I see the auction getting competitive, and my meta-agreement #1 (or very close to #1) is "in a competitive auction, support with support." If I have a one-bid hand, it's frequently more important to tell partner "we have a fit" than "I have a stopper". If I have a two-bid hand, I have tools (cuebid raise/overcall, 2NT/double) to show a strong raise, which I can make and then make a reasonable second call hearing partner.

Note that if you are playing matchpoints, the "race to 1NT" is definitely a thing: 1NT making 1 is the same as 2D making 2, and 1NT making 2 beats 2D making 3. So that is an argument against a non-obvious raise.

Of course, like everything in bridge bidding, it is more important to be on the same page as partner than it is to confuse, but be technically correct. It might be right to raise to 3 on 4 cards, a stiff, and a 7-count; but when partner's 18 bids 3NT counting on the diamond tricks and only takes 8, "right" is cold consolation.

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  • Totally off-topic, but if "support with support" isn't meta-agreement #1, it's because "confusing bids are forcing" is. – Mycroft Jul 8 '20 at 3:45

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