I'm often told, after a hand has been played, that my overcall in the auction was "aggressive". When I ask them what they mean by that adjective, nobody will give me a direct answer. I reckon that they are intimated as I am 1.9M tall and weigh 104Kg (6'3" & 229lbs).

But I really would like to know what is meant by an "aggressive" overcall. In addition, are there any other words, similar or otherwise, used to describe an overcall ?

Any explanations will be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


There's two answers here, the technical one and the nuanced one.

Technically, an aggressive call of any sort means a call that is made to take a high risk/high reward result. For example, in this auction:

1s - 2s -
4s - - -

2S promises 6-9 points and 3+ spades. A game in spades needs 25ish points to be reasonably safe, so if you make 4s call with 16 points, that would be aggressive - you're knowing that either you're hoping to see 9 points in dummy, or you're going to be in a challenging game that's more likely to go down.

Typically, aggressive bids aren't recommended; some will bid more aggressively when they feel they need higher variance in order to succeed. However, slightly more aggressive bids are appropriate in some cases, such as at IMPs versus MPs - where that game bonus is critical.

Conservative is the inverse of aggressive, and implies you take safer lines that are less likely to be risky, but less rewarding. It's also not recommended - you will fail to bid games you should be in. Conservative players might pass there with 15 points.

The actual opposite of aggressive would be disciplined, meaning making calls as described in your partnership's convention card. Disciplined players would know how to ask questions and find out whether 4S was makeable (perhaps 3S, or perhaps they have other options in their quiver).

The nuanced answer is that typically when someone describes your bidding generally as aggressive, they're suggesting you bid higher than you should, or when you shouldn't at all.

Being an aggressive overcaller is not uncommon in newer players, as it's tempting to want to get in the action, or to see your hand and feel like you have something you want to describe, but shouldn't.

It is also, however, common that in some bridge clubs, especially with older players used to a very different game, that overcalling at what would be considered a modern norm is considered aggressive.

It's hard to say if you're a "too aggressive" overcaller or a "correctly aggressive" overcaller, though, without seeing your play.

  • Many thanks for your thoughtful and very readable response, Joe. That was most enlightening. Nov 3, 2022 at 22:34
  • I would like now to request an example of an aggressive overcall, Joe. Also, most helpful would be an example of an overcall that is conservative, or should I say "disciplined . . . . . . . Thanks Nov 3, 2022 at 22:38

I finally found a definitive answer to my question about aggressive overcalls. The auction below illustrates this.

My partner and I have an agreement that jump overcalls are weak and preemptive. So, when he (South) bid 2d after East's opening 1c, I (North) immediately understood what he was telling me: 6-10 HCP and 6 diamond pieces with 2 of the top 3 honours or 3 of the top 5.

Some people consider such overcalls to be aggressibe.

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