1-Of-A-Major Opposite a Passed Hand

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/27/2014
Level: Intermediate

Last month, we discussed 1-of-a-Major Openings. Now we delve into the follow-ups by a Passed Hand.

Passed Hand Responses to Opening 1? or 1?

Let's examine the following auctions:

 Responder Opener
  Pass Pass 1?
Pass ??    


 Responder Opener
Pass Pass Pass 1?
Pass ??    
 Responder Opener
  Pass Pass 1?
Pass ??    


 Responder Opener
Pass Pass Pass 1?
Pass ??    


In each case, the 3rd or 4th seat opening was 1-of-a-major. For the responder, what should change? Last month, when responder was an UPH ("unpassed hand") there were all sorts of strong possibilities (such as a Jacoby 2NT raise, Splinter bids, 2/1 Game-force responses). Now, the responder has at most 11, maybe 12 points. Everything is different. Everything, that is, except a single raise. 1?-2? and 1?-2? should retain the same meaning as by an UPH.

New suit on 2 level

A 2/1 response in a new suit should be natural (other than a Drury 2? bid, discussed later on). So,

 Responder Opener
(Pass) Pass Pass 1?
Pass 2?    


Shows hearts. What strength? About 9-11 HCP. It is natural (5-card suit), and not forcing. It will usually not be a 6-card suit (no weak two-bid). It should be a decent five-card suit, as a 1NT response to 1? would be preferable with something like:

?Q 8 7 6 4
?Q J 2
?A J 3 2

For a passed-hand 2? response to 1?, I'd have something like:

?8 5
?A Q J 9 4
?9 8
?K 5 3 2

Responses of 2NT or Higher

A 2NT response can no longer be a Jacoby 2NT raise (game forcing). You can use it as natural (11-12, balanced, probably a doubleton in support). Or, you could define it as something special. Rather than use anything complex, I'd recommend that most intermediate players leave it as undefined. I prefer a passed-hand 1NT response to be up to 11 (maybe a terrible 12) points.

I like to play jumps in new suits as fit-showing. They promise 4-card support and a concentration in the suit jumped into. For example:

 Responder Opener
(Pass) Pass Pass 1?
Pass 3?    


I would bid 3? with:

?Q 10 9 8
?4 3
?A Q J 5 4
?5 4

If you play Bergen Raises, be sure to discuss if they are on by a Passed Hand (I recommend NO—preferring PH jumps to be fit-showing).

Jump raises by a passed hand (if you are using Drury) are a strange animal. I recommend that a 3-level raise is 4-5 trumps and weakish (at most 9 points in support).


I'm not a convention pusher, but this one is in my top dozen. After a 3rd- or 4th-seat major-suit opening, I strongly recommend using 2? as an artificial raise. It shows 3+ trumps and 10+ points in support (counting shape). This allows your partnership to stop on the 2-level if the opening was light. Without Drury, the responder would have to make a limit 3-level raise and get your side to the three-level (too high) when opener is on the light side.

How does opener respond to Drury? Modern day methods dictate that opener "signs off" in 2-MAJ with a minimum (no game interest). So:

 Responder Opener
(Pass) Pass Pass 1?
Pass 2?* Pass 2?



2?= No game interest. (Could be a very light opener, or just some minimum)

Anything by opener other than 2? is naturalish and shows game interest (or more!). Technically, this is called "Reverse-Drury" since it is opposite of how it was first invented. However, this is the way everyone plays it today.

Some players use 2-way Drury. Two clubs is described as above, but shows exactly 3-card support. With 4-card support, the Drury bid is 2?. This forfeits a natural 2? response, and also adds some memory strain (not a good one to forget).

Drury is not used after a minor-suit opening, and should not be on in competition (if they double or overcall)—be sure to discuss this!


In the next article, we will discuss handling interference after our 1? or 1?.




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