What is going on with Gerber? Last I heard, it was a baby food. Oh—and occasionally used at the bridge table.
Maybe once every thousand deals you need to ask for aces after partner’s notrump bid. Because a raise to 4NT is usually invitational, you need an ace-asking device.
John Gerber invented his now oft-misused convention so that after a 1NT or 2NT bid, a jump to 4 asks for aces. The responses are: 4=0 or 4, 4=1, 4=2, 4NT=3.
Please read the the previous paragraph carefully. Notice the text says: “a jump to 4.” It also says “after a 1NT or 2NT bid.” Here are some examples of Gerber:
For some reason, many of my students have gone wild with this convention. Almost every conceivable 4 bid is being used as ace-asking. The auctions above (the jump to 4 comes after a notrump bid) are proper. But, look at the following auctions where 4 should NOT be Gerber:
I could list 100's more where I've seen players take 4 as Gerber. No! Stop, please! In the auctions above, 4 is needed as a natural bid. On the first auction, what is West to bid with say:
A K Q 8 7
A Q 10 7 2
On the second auction, what is responder to bid with, say:
K J 8 7
K 10 9 7 6
What about all the auctions where 4 is needed as a control-bid, such as:
He can't ask for aces with that hand, because his side could be off the AK. He wants to make a control-bid in clubs and find out if his partner controls diamonds. 4 is NOT Gerber!!
It is normal expert procedure to have 4 available on numerous auctions for natural or control-bidding purposes. If you want to ask for aces, there are other ways. 4 should be Gerber only as a jump after notrump.
What if partner's last bid was 3NT and you want to ask for aces? 4 would typically be natural (or other), so 5 ("super-Gerber") is the ace-asking bid. For example:
South would bid 5 to ask for aces. Most expert partnerships use 4 as some sort of asking bid or form of Stayman. Here is one more:
East would bid 5 to ask for aces. 4 would be natural and forcing (something like: --
4NT would be quantitative/invitational (something like: Q2
I know this will fall on many deaf ears. Too many are in love with 4 as Gerber. For experienced players, Gerber should be only a baby food.
*note: 4 is forcing in this auction
FOOTNOTE: During the 2009 Regional at Sea I gave my "anti-Gerber" lecture. Director Harry Falk loved it and told me that next to Gerber on the convention card he used to write: NITLFY. What does it mean? Not In The Last Forty Years!
Gerber is not alertable.