We all have those games from childhood that we remember fondly, and then, if we think deeply about them, we wonder how no one got hurt. My sister and I, for all of our other faults, weren’t that creative at making truly dangerous games. Enter Larry Cohen.
Larry was my father’s bridge partner from the time I was born until my twenties and Larry, as an adult younger than my parents took it upon himself to teach us some dangerous games. As most of you know, Larry is a very good teacher of games, so we learned quickly the rules of a game called "furniture to furniture," which had us traversing our basement without touching the floor. We learned so quickly, in fact, that we were soon zooming from one couch to a chair to a rocking chair to… OUCH. I’m not sure we ever confessed to our parents how my sister got that giant bruise, but it may have been attempting a particularly stylish leap from the coffee table not-quite over the arm-rail of the treadmill.
The lesson Larry taught us: be careful before jumping.
In bidding, jumps are dangerous if they mean something different to you and to partner. An old classic: what does the auction 1--P--2 mean?
The answer: it’s either a weak bid or a strong bid. Great! If you haven’t discussed this with partner, you shouldn’t do it! Jump bids have very specific meanings, but sometimes it’s best to not make a jump bid if there’s a chance partner could get confused.
First, to clarify, an opener can never make a subsequent "weak" jump. If you had enough to open the bidding, your hand can't be weak.
I like to simplify things by saying that any jump in competition is weak. So 1 (1) 3 is a weak bid. The only exception is that there are no weak jumps if your opponents have shown a weak hand. 1 (3) 4 shows a good hand, for example. This all goes with the concept that if they are weak, you don't need to preempt them.
Jumps by the opening bidder
If the opening bidder jumps after partner’s 1-level response, that jump should show extras. A jump to the 3-level of either opener’s suit or responder’s suit shows about 16-18 points and is non-forcing. One auction I’ve seen too many times is this: 1--P--1--P--3--P--4--P--4NT… You can’t make an invitational bid and then decide to use Blackwood when partner simply accepts the invitation. Typically the opener should have jumped straight to 4 immediately.
Jumping to game by the opener also has specific meaning, though the meaning will depend on which game opener jumps to.
Let’s say the auction starts 1--P--1. There are different meanings for a jump to 4 and 4. A jump to 4 is a picture bid. It shows something like: 3 AK87632 AJ10 52: a long suit with a hand that was a little too good to open 4. If you picked up a hand like this in third- or fourth-chair you probably would just open 4.
After 1--P--1--P--4 shows a very good hand. It should have about 19-21 points in total valuation. It is NOT a signoff. Remember that once you’ve opened the bidding, you don’t have a way to show a weak hand anymore, so all of openers jumps should show extra. A typical hand:
A jump to 3NT typically shows a source of tricks and approximately 8 tricks in hand. Over 1-1, you could bid 3NT with:
Notice how your suit is much more solid than the example for a 4 rebid.
Jumps by opener into a new suit are natural and game forcing. When you jump shift as opening bidder, make sure you have an idea of how you want the auction to go.
Jumps by responder follow the same general rule: jumps to the three-level of a suit already bid are invitational and jumps to 3NT usually just mean that responder wants to play 3NT.
Jumps in 2-over-1 auctions.
In 2-over-1 auctions, jumping to a suit-contract game generally shows a weak hand. So 1--P--2--P--4 says that the opener has a minimum hand and heart support. This follows the principle of fast arrival.
Jumps to 3NT should have a special understanding. Generally, I like it to show 18-19 balanced. So 1--P--2--P--3NT shows 18-19 balanced and partner can choose whether or not to go farther. This keeps you out of 4NT when you might otherwise have had to do that to make a slam try.
Jumping in opener’s suit should show a solid 7+card suit. 1--P--2--P--3 doesn’t show 16-18, rather it should show a particular “picture” of a hand that wants partner to control bid in support of spades. Typically you’ll hold
or something similar.
The bottom line is that you need to decide before you jump if your bid shows what both you and partner will understand it to be.