Other Conventional Calls

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/01/2012
Level: All Levels

Eight months into the series, we wrap up the front side of the convention card with my recommendations for "Other Conventional Calls."New Minor Forcing When opener's rebid is 1NT (12-14 balanced), responder will often need this tool. The "2-way" box is checked, so we are considering auctions that start with 1?-1?-1NT or 1?-1?-1NT, for example. Here is the generic bidding table for "new minor:"


 1 any Pass 1 any Pass
1NT Pass 2?  



 1 any Pass 1 any Pass
1NT Pass 2?  


In both cases, Responder's Rebid (2? or 2?) is artificial. Here is what the bids mean:


2? = Invitational values and typically 5 cards in his first-bid suit.

2? = Game Forcing (100%)


Of course, using this 2-way New Minor Forcing, you lose the ability to play in 2? or 2? (but those are usually not desirable contracts).


The responder won't always use the new minor. He will pass opener's 1NT rebid with a flat minimum. He can invite (2NT) with a flat 11-12 count (but no 5-card major). He can bid 3NT to play.  He can repeat his major to sign off in 2 (example: 1?-1?-1NT-2?). He can jump-rebid his major to show a 6+-card invitation (1?-1?-1NT-3?). He can jump to game if he has no interest in anything else (1?-1?-1NT-4?).


By starting with 2? "checkback" he is promising at least invitational values. Opener's duty is to bid 2 of responder's major if he has three cards.  Example: 1?-1?-1NT-2?-2? = 3 hearts.  Without 3-card support, opener bids 2?.



Special 2? auction:  1?-1?-1NT-2?-2 any-3NT = Choice of Games with 5 hearts.  Put another way: Any time responder has 5 cards in his major and a flat game hand, he can use 2?-new minor and then bid 3NT to tell opener he is 5-3-3-2 (approximately). This is a memory burden, but not likely to cause an accident if forgotten.


Starting with 2? "new minor" is used for all other GF situations. Obviously, don't use this toy if as responder you know where you want to play (such as in 3NT or 4 of your major -- just bid it directly in that case). Here is a hand where I would wheel out 2?:  ?A Q J 10 3 2
?A K 3 2
?Q 3 2
  After 1?-1?-1NT, bid 2? to set up a game force.


If responder wants to sign off in a minor, he can do so only on the 3-level (1 of a minor-1 any; 1NT-3 of either minor = to play).  Example:  1?-1?-1NT-3?=to play (?K 10 6 5
?3 2
?Q J 9 8 7 2
). The auction 1 of a minor-1?-1N-2? denies a decent hand--the opener passes or corrects to spades.


Note: New Minor Forcing is OFF by a Passed hand (2? or 2? by a passed hand is natural, NF)

Note: New Minor Forcing is OFF if the opponents overcalled, but on if they only doubled on the 1st round.

Note: New Minor is ON after 1?-1? (so 1?-1?-1NT-2? is used to start maybe an invitation in a minor).


After a 2NT rebid, LC Standard uses "new minor forcing."  So, if 1? was opened, the new minor bid is 3?. If anything else was opened, the "new" minor bid is 3?. Typically the responder is looking for 3-card support from opener. New Minor after a 2NT rebid is ON by a passed hand.


There are many other systems/conventions that can be used after notrump rebids, but I find the above to be the best combination of relatively easy to remember while also effective. More details on New Minor are here.


Fourth Suit Forcing

This is a cousin of New Minor Forcing. The difference is that opener's rebid was not 1NT. Opener's rebid was a suit. So, after, say, 1?-1?-1?, a bid of 2? is the 4th suit. Any time the auction starts:  1 grape-1 apple, and opener bids a 3rd suit, responder can bid the 4th suit to set up a game force. In LC Standard, the 4th suit is artificial and 100% forcing to Game. Example:After 1?-1?-2?, responder holds:  ?A Q 4 3 2
?Q 3 2
?A K Q 2
. He bids 2? to set up a game force. The bid says absolutely nothing about the fourth suit. It could be xxx, it could be AKQ. The opener will usually bid notrump if he has the 4th suit stopped. Both players assume the 4th suit is unstopped until either player bids notrump.


Fourth suit forcing an be used after a 2/1 GF response. Some pairs agree to play it as natural--the 4th suit would be natural in that case (1?-2?-2?-3?=clubs).  Alternatively, it can be played as "I'm stuck" and usually denies a stopper in the 4th suit.


Fourth-Suit is NATURAL and non-forcing by a passed hand (P-P-1?-P-1?-P-2?-P-2? = 5-5 or longer in ?/?).


If the opponents have made an early double, 4th suit forcing is still on. If they overcall, it is off.


1?-1?-1?-1? is a matter of Partnership Agreement. Choose 1 of these possible ways (not both!):
1) Artificial and forcing to game
2) Natural (in which case 2♠ would be the substitute/replacement for 4th suit forcing).


A close relative to both "conventions" above is XYZ.

Weak Jump Shifts (In and Out of Competition)

David Berkowitz and I were quite successful using fit-showing jumps in competition. We also used some strong jump-shift responses to our opening bids. However, for LC Standard, I am conforming to the majority. It is easy to remember if ALL JUMPS ARE WEAK. So, in LC Standard, nearly all jump-shifts (in or out of competition) are WEAK.  There are 3 exceptions, which must be memorized:

Exception #1: Obvious Splinter Bids (Double jumps), such as:  1?-P-4?   or   1? (1?) 4? = ? and 0-1?

Exception #2: Passed-Hand Fit-showing Jumps (No need to preempt anymore), such as:  P   P  1?  X  3? = ?+?
Exception # 3: As discussed in the Major and minor openings, responder's jump to 3 of a LOWER suit is invitational (so, 1?- Pass 3?  or 1?-Pass-3? are invitational 6-card suits).


All other jumps are weak:

Example weak auctions:

1? (X) 3?
1? (1?) 3?

1? (1?) 2?

1? (P) 2?

1? (X) 3?


Reverses and beyond Reverses aren't a convention, but there is really no place on the convention card to discuss followups.

To Read the LCStandard treatment on Reverses, click the link.


Other Conventions

For experts: please see the Optional Upgrades section for many advanced treatments and upgrades.

For experts: For my extensive partnership checklist, click here.


For a full LC Standard card and a prettier version of this series, see Bridge Winners.

Further Reading:
What Should we Play