Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

The Raw Truth of Bidding with SAYC

First I am going to start this off with the poem of the week.  I have decided to memorize poetry as part of my “improve my mind” therapy.  So here is the poem:

I’m Nobody! Who are you? by Emily Dickinson




I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!


Now I wonder why I picked that poem.  Am I feeling discouraged?  Is there a problem with my self esteem?  Definitely not!  It just seems to fit with the economy.  I suppose we will all have to wear long skirts soon.

Kathy and I had our lesson yesterday.  The idea was to begin a look at one of a minor.  The problem isn’t the opening bid or even the response.  It is all the paths that you can follow from there.  We happened upon a reverse and I realized that it was just too much to talk about then.  So we decided to do that next week.  Kathie is going to work through Chapter 5 of

25 Conventions You Should Know

I plan to reread it to so that I am consistent with it.  This area is so full of potholes and problems. Ray and I worked on ways to simplify the continuations since we always seem to get stuck in the mud. 

At the beginning of the lesson we discussed what to do after opening one of a minor and hearing partner’s one level response.  If you had a four card major you could bid should you bid that now or should you bid 1NT.  I think this is a matter of partnership choice.  With most partner’s I prefer to bid 1NT with a balanced hand.  So if I make another suit bid at the one level I have an unbalanced hand. 

There is an advantage to bidding the major.  First, if you are not playing some sort of checkback you may lose the major and second if you don’t bid an available major you don’t have it.

Kathy told me she goes back and forth sometimes bidding the suit and sometimes bidding 1NT.  This seemed to be the worst of both worlds.  We agreed on bidding 1NT with balanced hands.  We can see how that goes.  I am not sure it is the right choice.

What do you think?

We talked about forcing and nonforcing bids.  My simple rules was that any new suit by responder was forcing and a repeat of a suit was not forcing (unless opener had created a force).  We have yet to talk about the dreaded fourth suit forcing.  It seems that a lot of the time your main objective is to set up a force rather than to sensibly bid your hand.

with SAYC has a lot of holes.  I think in the end you just muddle through, do the best you can and that usually works pretty well.  I probably use too many conventions and understandings anyway.


Ray LeeDecember 10th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

I think it’s probably theoretically sounder to bypass a major and rebid 1NT in the context of a weak NT system, so that the 1NT rebid is 15-17. Now it is more likely partner will have enough to check back, and there’s more chance you will reach the optimum spot. Playing pure SA, I think i prefer bidding what I have. Of course there’s the paradox that playing a weak NT, the auction 1C-1D-1S implies a 5-4 hand, while playing a ‘standard’ system, you could be 3-4! Curious that this is called natural bidding… 🙂

Paul GipsonDecember 11th, 2008 at 8:46 am

I’m a big believer in balanced hands opening notrumps or rebidding notrumps. As Ray says, you gain a lot when partner does not do this.

I’m not a huge fan of checkback either, despite being a good friend of Eric Crowhurst who is the ‘father of checkback’ in the UK (and elsewhere). But I know I’m fighting a losing battle on this front.

Luise LeeDecember 11th, 2008 at 1:45 pm

You’ve all completely confused me… Ray is talking about bidding weak NT systems, which I’m sure you’re not teaching Kathy, so speaking solely on strong NT systems… I always thought that the optimal contract to play in would be when partner and I find a 4-4 fit. If I have a balanced opening bid with a 4-card major then what is the advantage of bypassing the major to bid notrump? Presumably if partner is unbalanced he’ll bid on and eventually we’ll find our 4-4 fit, but what if partner has an unbalanced hand but is too weak to bid on and must pass 1NT?

We’ll end up struggling in 1NT when we could have played a perfectly safe 1S contract. I’m not quite sure I’m understanding all of your reasonings.

Paul GipsonDecember 11th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

The disadvantage of my methods is that I will occasionally miss a 4-4 major suit fit and play in 1NT instead.

However it is rare that you’ll be able to pass 1S (as this is pretty forcing), so the choice is really about trying to make eight tricks in the major or seven in notrump. It is getting closer to a wash now.

Maybe I should add that, in my methods, a weak responding hand would always bid a 4-card major before a longer diamond suit (known as Walsh). This means that I’ll only miss a 4-4 fit when the fit is in spades and responder has both majors (bidding hearts first) and is weak.

The upside of my method is that I will play in the best fit when I do actually rebid 1S, such as 1C-1H-1S. Partner now knows that I have (at least) five clubs and four spades. So you may struggle in 1NT when you have a nine-card club fit.

I believe that the advantages of knowing whether partner is balanced or not outweigh the downside of missing the occasional 4-4 fit when both hands are weak.

Others disagree. In France, for example, my view is heresy!

MaggieDecember 11th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

My comment is here, as this is where I first read Linda’s entry.

Leave a comment

Your comment