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When to raise with only three card support rather than bid 1NT?

Playing standard Acol with Four Card Majors - when is it 'better' to raise openers opening suit bid at the one level with only three card support - rather than bid 1NT?


  • edited 10:43PM

    This is all very good and I would advocate broadly similar criteria for responding with a three-card suit.

    Now move around the table and consider opener's next bid. If you freely raise on three-card suits then partner needs to have a five card suit to raise to game or invite game. If partner holds a four card suit it will be a balanced hand and partner should bid 3NT with the values for game (generally 19 points in a balanced hand) or 2NT to invite game (generally 17-18 points in a balanced hand).

    If partner bids 3NT you should pass with a three-card suit, or bid four of the major with four(+) cards in the major.

    If partner bids 2NT you have four possible bids. With the values to accept the invitation you should raise to 3NT with only a three-card suit or bid four of the major with four(+) cards in the major. If minimum for your raise you should pass 2NT with a three-card suit or correct to three of the major with four(+) cards in the suit.

  • edited 10:43PM
    There is one other consideration that I did not see discussed in the link (a very good link): the likelihood of partner having a 5-card when (s)he opens the bidding 1S.

    Although it seems very few people know this, it is nonetheless true that roughly 65% of all dealt hands have a 5-card suit. That can be checked in many places. I used the ACBL's Encyclopedia of Bridge. In fact, 35% of hands have a 6-card suit. Back to the 1S opening. IF partner has a 5-card suit and he opens 1S, his 5-card suit is spades. If he has no 5-card suit, he would often open the bidding with a different bid. Therefore, the expectation is that the spade bidder has a suit of length 5+. Heck, it's his responsibility :) The difficulty with 4-3 fits is when a ruff is taken by the declarer who holds the 4-card suit. After we bid 1m-1M; 2M-?? anywhere in the auction, we use ?? = 2NT as a checkback for number of M's and strength of hand. If this is important to you, you can use checkbacks to help.

    In general, playing in 3NT is best with a 7-card fit, but 4-3 fits with good singletons and STRONG trumps are magnificent contracts. Here is an example:

    Yesterday, I opened 1C and she held 6532 x AKJ743 xx. She bid 1D and my rebid was 1S. She raised to 4S. I held AKQJ xxx Q2 Axxx. I passed. Sad. Cold for slam. She did not like her spades. I loved them. I wish she had splintered. She said her trumps were too weak. The declarer's trumps must be strong. Being forced to trump with high trump often spells defeat. When ruffing is done by weaker trumps, the high trumps draw the trumps held by the defence.
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