Be a More Difficult Opponent

February 5, 2011 by Tom Kiss
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and get better results

By Tom Kiss

The choice of bids and the selection of cards you play can make playing against you easy or difficult.  Choosing bids that inhibit interposes should be given priority, especially against good opponents, who are more likely to interpose and push you too high.

Generally speaking 5 card major opponents are more difficult opponents.  In the 4 card or 5 card major “which is better” controversy, an important point is often overlooked. Playing 4 card majors, responder with 3 card major support often bids 1NT, allowing his LHO (left hand opponent) to bid 2♣, 2♦ or even 2♥.   Raising partner’s major with 3 cards blocks low level interposes and prevents opponents finding a fit.


The same principle of raising partner’s opening applies when partner has responded a major.

♠ Q104          In a recent duplicate a player opened

♥ Q53           1♦, pass on his left, 1♥ by partner

♦ AKJ98        and instead of bidding 2♥, he

♣32               bid 1NT. On his left 2♣ was bid and raised to 3♣, pushing them to 3♥ one off.

Not so easy to come in at the 3 level over 2♥.

What happens in the above hand if South doubles the 1♥ response? A “Support Redouble” showing 3 card support allows North  to bid 1♠ (4-7pts), 1NT (8-11 pts), 2♣, 2 cue bids, or jump to 2♠ with 8-11 pts. Support redoubles that do not show extra points are of dubious value when a simple 2♥ raise obstructs six information exchanging bids.


On the same theme, that a simple raise in a major makes it difficult for your opponent to come in, so does a minor suit raise. You should be able to raise your partner’s minor whenever possible; if your partnership uses ‘inverted minor raises’ then they should be OFF in competition. When your partner’s 1♦ has been overcalled or doubled you must be able to raise to  2♦ with weak hands, even if 1♦ is better minor.  Holding the following you should bid 2♦ after your partner’s 1♦ is doubled.

♠ 96               Firstly this simple raise stops LHO from

♥ 752             bidding 1NT or 2♣, and secondly

♦.KQ65          imagine LHO has a 4 card major

♣ J742           and 8-11 points with which an easy jump to the 2 level over your pass can be made.  Even

the expert is reluctant to jump to the 3 level with a 4 card suit. A simple raise can keep

opponents out of game. Note if you had a fifth ♦ you should jump to 3♦ with weak hands

whether playing inverted minors or not.

♠ 975            Your partner opens 1♣ pass by

♥ J                RHO. Do not respond 1♦, allowing

♦ QJ1032     1♥, 1♠ or a 2♦ cue bid —bid 2♣.

♣ A964


When responder is too weak to force to game diamond suits are bypassed in favour of major suits, regardless of the length of the diamond suit. Adopting this style is advantageous because you find your major suit fits quickly, and you become more difficult to play against.

♠  9753               Your partner opens 1♣ pass by RHO

♥ J                      Walsh style is to respond 1♠ and only to respond 1♦

♦ QJ1032            with opening values 12+ points.

♣ A96

Keeping the bidding low is not much of an argument for responding 1♦ to 1♣; it is very easy for the opponents to come in with 1♥ or 1♠.


♠ 83                Your partner opens 1♦, RHO doubles.

♥ 754              If you pass or your LHO has an easy 1♥ or

♦ J43              1♠ bid. Bidding 2♣ bid  makes it difficult

♣ AK642         for LHO with at most 7 pts to do anything but pass.

You may be saving yourself a decision over 2♠.

♠ J74             Your partner opens 1♣, pass by RHO,

♥ 875             you should bid 1NT (with 8 -10 pts)

♦ AK97           not 1♦. Block the potential 1 level

♣ 973            major bid. You may buy the contract, saving yourself a decision over their 2♥ or 2♠.

♠ KJ53             Your partner opens 1♥, pass by RHO,

♥ 972               you should bid 2♥ not 1♠. Block the

♦ K3                 potential 2 level minor bid. You may

♣ 9842            buy the contract in 2♥.It is very difficult for them to come in at the 3 level with only a 5

card minor.

♠ J42               Your partner opens 1♣, 1♦ by RHO,

♥ 85                 you should bid  1NT, don’t pass

♦ AJ953           hoping for a penalty X of 1♦. Block the

♣ Q82              1♥ or 1♠ bid. recently I saw 1NT bid and made with this hand while the opponents were

cold for 3♠.


♠ 3                      Your partner opens 1♦, pass by RHO, you should bid 4♥

♥ KQJ1054         not 1♥. You may buy it there and over opponents 4♠,

♦ KJ43                5♦ describes your hand. In the long run the blocking bid will

♣ 76                    render good results. Occasionally you may miss slam.


The modern style after say 1♥ – (1♠) – ? is to bid 2♠ to show a limit raise or better in hearts; a jump to 3♥

is pre-emptive and weak (this bid is alertable) and jump to 3♣ or 3♦ can be a fit showing jump (a typical hand might be  ♠98 ♥ K65  ♦854  ♣ AQJ76.

Even when your partner interposes, depending on vulnerability you can jump with weak hands and 4 card support; you become a something of a ‘pain’ even to the best opposition. Concerning fit jumps, especially if you keep finding successful sacrifices – you are a difficult opponent.


Bergen raises are difficult to play against.  Those who play Bergen jump to 3♣ over their partner’s major opening, when hitherto would raise to 2♠, allowing a simple double by opponents to show shortage and 3♣ as a natural bid.  How many players have discussed whether the double over a Bergen 3♣ bid is lead directing or shows the other major?  Even if opponents have discussed a defence, they lose either a natural bid or a takeout double, and that’s reason enough to play Bergen raises, even by a passed hand.


As declarer, always win the trick with the HIGHEST of TOUCHING HONOURS, for example, playing in 3NT with K Q x in hand, when a low card is led and RHO plays the J, win with the King.  LHO won’t know who has the Q and when in may continue the suit rather than risk a switch. If you win the J with the Q, LHO will know you have the K, as his partner would have gone up with the K from K J x.  The same rule applies if you have Q J x or A Q J  win the 10 with the Q, always the highest of touching honours.  Luckily this is a very simple rule, as declarer you should always do it.  You will become a more difficult opponent.

Ed Tom Kiss is a Sydney player, presently a Silver Grand Master, an enthusiast who studies bridge even after 45 years of playing .

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