Bergen Raises with Length and Strength

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 12/04/2017
Level: Beginner

Dear Readers,

In this column, we are showing some of the more intriguing email questions Larry has answered. Larry gets too many emails to answer them all, but even with his busy schedule, he tries the best he can. Note: Most questions can be answered with a simple search. Go to this site (LARRYCO.COM) and type in your question/topic in the SEARCH box. You are likely to get an article that answers your question.

Below is a recent question and answer that you might find helpful yourself. Please know that the letters may have been edited for clarification and/or to save space. 

Dear Larry,

I’m reading a book on Bergen raises and it’s says to raise partner to 4♠or 4♠ with five and fewer than 10 points. I thought with 6 or more points I’d want to bid 3♠ and then raise if competition?

This seems to go with an issue I’m having.

Yesterday I had something like 

♠ AKxx  
♥ x  
♦ AKxxxxx  
♣ K

LHO opened 1♠. Pass. 1♠ and I X'd and then bid the ♠'s. I kept raising them until 5♠. Opps went to 5♠ making!  My partner had

♠Qxxx and nothing else.

Should I have X'd and then jumped? Rather than incessantly raising. All I did was push them into their game? Partner passed throughout. How do you show points and length and preempt opps?   David, Los Angeles

Dear David,

On the Bergen Raises, his advice is quite general.  If your thinking is: "If I raise directly to 4, I'm afraid of missing slam" -- then you might want to go the 3C route. It depends on the nature of your hand.  If a flat 10 (5-3-3-2), I would probably just make a limit raise.  Aces?  Controls? Shortness?  Judgement involved.

With your 7-4 hand, there is no right or wrong.  Your auction was fine.

Good Luck   -Larry