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The obvious danger is that you may end up in a 4-3 "Moyesian" fit if you do so. That appears to be why many members of my club hate that bid. Yet I feel that it provides useful information and induces the opener to bid again to define his hand. My other observation is that members of my club who do end up in 4-3 fits in major suits do well (at matchoints) because they have other things working for them, like extra high card points.

So in one hand, with only us vulnerable, partner dealt and opened a "convenient" one club with a 3-4-3-3 13-count. I bid one spade (one over one) with the following:

♠AJT954 ♡ 4 ♢ KQJ7 ♣ 54

Partner bid 1NT. I rebid 2 diamonds, partner took me back to 2 spades, and I passed him because I thought this was a preference bid. We missed a game in spades because partner didn't know that I had six, and I didn't know that he had Kxx in spades.

I was taught (by expert Frank Stewart) to raise a "one over one" bid to two with Qxx or better. Certainly, that would have produced a better result on this hand. But since every deal has to stand on its own, are there experts of comparable or greater stature than Frank Stewart who would argue against raising one spade to two with Kxx and favor a 1NT rebid instead? What are their reasons?

And was there a better way to get to four spade contract?

2 Answers 2

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There are really two questions in this question: first, what are the merits and demerits of "raising on three," as it's called, and second, what went wrong in the auction on the given hand?

Raising on three has advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that it makes subsequent bidding somewhat more difficult. You should have good agreements about further bidding in auctions that start 1X-1M-2M, being able to answer questions like "which game tries by responder promise five cards in the major?". If opponents compete, it makes it somewhat more difficult to decide whether to compete further without game going values. It also risks playing in a major-suit partscore when no trump would be more appropriate.

The advantages include playing more often in 4-3 fits at the two level on partscore hands when it's right to do so, making it more difficult for opponents to compete, and reducing the variety of hands stuffed into opener's 1NT rebid.

The advantages are reduced and the disadvantages increase if opener raises on 3 even with very flat hands. Almost all pairs who raise on three don't do it with 4333 patterns; some do it only with 5431 patterns.

As to the second question, the bad result is 100% on you in this case. As a matter of evaluation, this hand should force to game. You have 11 HCP, but you have two excellent suits in which all your honors are concentrated, and the spade suit has good intermediates. This hand has a lot of offensive power. Probably you should just bid 4S, as Standard American lacks the tools to be more precise. The worst case hand for you is something like x KQJx xxx KQJxx -- would your partner open 1C and rebid 1NT with that hand? A doubleton spade and an ace or two make 4S considerably better than 3NT. You could try 3D after 1NT, but I think that muddies the waters of your spades.

But let's suppose that you evaluate your hand as invitational (I think this is a severe underevaluation, as mentioned). Without an agreement to play New Minor Forcing, 2D is not the correct rebid. 2D is nonforcing and suggests that you hold only four spades. To invite with this hand, you should bid 3S.

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  • Frankly, a bidding system without some artificial bid(s) to look for a 5-3 fit after 1X-1Y-1N is unplayable at any serious level. Commented May 11 at 0:03
  • I agree, but I think it's not so bad for people to run into hands that give them that problem a few time before learning NMF or other similar convention.
    – ruds
    Commented May 11 at 0:29
  • "As a matter of evaluation, this hand should force to game." Agreed 100%. "Probably you should just bid 4S, as Standard American lacks the tools to be more precise." Slam seems so unlikely to me here that I can't see a reason to try. Maybe in some partnerships, a partner with more than the 13HCP shown could try fourth suit forcing or something... ? Commented May 12 at 16:40
  • Oh, I agree that you shouldn't be looking for slam. I think there's a chance that 3NT or 5D is a better game than 4S, but it would require more detailed agreements than basic Standard American.
    – ruds
    Commented May 13 at 1:09
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To take off on Ruds' excellent answer, you should have bid game on your own, after 1NT (which promised at least two spades). The reason is that your hand is far stronger than its nominal strength because of the concentration of values in two suits.

It was Marty Bergen who advised people to bid a contract, if the cards they needed to make it could be contained within the minimum that partner showed in bidding. Here, you have a "stone cold" game if partner has KQ of spades and A of diamonds, which is well within the minimum for partner's opener.

You'll go down only if partner has the most unhelpful opening hand around, something like ♠xx ♡ KQJx ♢ xxx ♣ KQJx, and only if the opponents take their three side suit aces and a spade honor (you have 10 tricks but the opponents may get four first). Replace either of the QJ sequences with an ace (raising partner's point count from 12 to 13), and you should make four spades.

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