|Posted by BridgeGoth on July 25, 2012 at 6:10 PM|
Many different styles of overcalling exist, however the goal remains the same regardless of how you play. Communicate information about your hand to your partner, while making it more difficult for them to do the same.
In this article I will be talking about what different things overcalls can accomplish, and when each goal is most important to focus on based on seat and vulnerability.
To begin by looking at a hand from this afternooon. J72 Q8652 K7 Q32
Nobody is vulnerable and your RHO opens 1D in 1st seat. This player decided to overcall 1H. Now many people will write on their convention hard that a 1 level overcall promises at least 7 or 8 points and a 5 card suit, some allow for 4 card suits, some do not. So on the surface this "seems" like it fits a 1H overcall, but it most definitely does not. To tell you why, I will use a great quote from trumpd, a Canadian bridge player on BBO was kibitzing at the time to tell you why.
"Overcalls should do one of 3 things, lead direct, announce the location of an opening hand, or take up space. This bid does none of these"
I cannot agree more with this, bidding 1H with this hand, as that player did, accomplishes none of those 3 things and thus is not a good bid.
I love this quote so much, I'm actually going to break it down piece by piece and talk about every situation that those 3 things apply to, and the best way to use them.
In general, a good overcall should 2 of those 3 things, and an ok overcall would do 1. If you are considering overcalling and cannot do any of those 3 things, then you should not be bidding.
Next I will break down hands that can do each of those 3 things individually, and discuss when it is ok to only be able to do that 1 thing.
1: Lead Directors
A lead director is overcalling a suit that you want your partner to lead. The goal of this is to make sure partner does not give away tricks leading their own suit by suggesting strength in your own.
This is best done at the 1 level, non vulnerable, when partner has passed.
Examples of 1S over 1D overcalls:
You are in 3rd seat nobody vulnerable and partner passes, and RHO opens 1D
AQxxx xx xx xxxx You don't want partner leading a heart do you?
AKJx xxx Qxxx xx Again, do you want partner to lead anything but a spade?
As long as partner is a passed hand and you can come in at the 1 level, this is safe, partner should not bury you.
2: Annoucing the location of an opening hand
Sometimes even with weaker suits we must overcall in order to protect partner's hand, or to avoid having to come in at a higher level later. This is especially true in team games when bidding games is so important. It is important to make sure you do have full values however, going -800 is not fun.
This is best done when vulnerable and partner has not passed. However, opening hands should rarely be passed when they can be bid at the 1 level.
Examples of this situation:
You are in 2nd seat everybody vulnerable and RHO opens 1D
QJxxx Ax xxx KQx Bid 1S. If you pass now, what will you do if they preempt? What if partner bids clubs or hearts? You might lose the spades.
You are in 2nd seat everybody vulnerable and RHO opens 2H
QT9xx x AKxxx Ax This is dangerous, but 2S is necessary. If LHO jumps to 4H and it goes pass pass back to you, will you or partner have a clue what to do? You might collect 100 a trick when you are cold for 4S.
With a situation like the last one, to quote Larry Cohen, "It's dangerous to bid, but it's even more dangerous to pass." By that he is referring to the severe penalty for missing vulnerable games, vs the possibility of getting doubled.
3: To take up space
Preempting is very important for 2 reasons. It allows us to interfere with their bidding and make it more difficult for them to reach the right contract, and it also allows us to compete in the bidding and possibly win the contract.
This should be done any time it is appropriate, but it is even better when non vulnerable and partner has passed.
Examples of this:
You are in 3rd seat white on red, partner passes and RHO opens 1D
JT9xxxx xx xx xx
If you bid 3S, they are not going to have a very easy time finding out where to play this. You know they are cold for game and possibly slam, so make it hard on them!
You are in 3rd seat white on red, partner passes and RHO opens 1D
Kxxxx Jxxxx xx x
A Michaels cuebid of 2D doesn't take up a lot of space, but think about your partner. He might have a big fit and can preempt himself! How do you think they will do after 1D 2D P 3S?
If you know they have game! Don't let them find it! At the very least, make them earn it, or guess what to do.
Overcalls should either, suggest a lead, announce an opening hand, or take space away from the opponents.
If you can do 2 of these things safely, you have a good overcall.
If you can do 1 of these things safely, you have a good overcall in the right situation.
If you cannot do any of these 3 things, you should not overcall.
1-3 You are in 2nd seat everybody vulnerable and your RHO opens 1D
1: KQJxx Jx Kx xxxx
2: AJxxxx x Qxxx xx
3: xxx Kx Qxx AQxxx
4-6 You are in 3rd seat nobody vulnerable and your RHO open 1D
4: AQxxx xxx xxx xx
5: Jxx Qxxxx Kx Jxx
6: KQxxx xxxxx Ax x
7-8 You are in 2nd seat everybody vulnerable and RHO opens 2H
7: KQxxx xx AJxx Kx
8: xx xx AKxxxx Qxx
9-10 You are in 3rd seat they are vulnerable, you are not, and RHO opens 1C
9: xxxxxx xx xx xxx
10: Kxx Qxx Axxx Qxx
1: Bid 1S. You can safely suggest a lead at the 1 level, and if partner has a good hand, you have enough to not get in too much trouble.
2: Bid 2S. This suggests a lead and takes up space. This fits 2 out of 3.
3: Pass. This is not an opening hand, and going to 2 level freely is not the time to be making simple lead directors.
4: Bid 1S. You are not vulnerable and partner has passed. This is the best time to make a lead director. You don't want partner leading hearts do you?
5: Pass: Bidding 1H would accomplish none of the 3 goals.
6: Bid 1S. While this has the shape for Michaels, 1S would both suggest a lead and take up space, while 2D might get partner to lead a heart.
7: Bid 2S. This promises an opening hand, it is too dangerous to pass this and come in later when LHO raises hearts.
8: Pass. This is not an opening hand, and making only lead directors this high in 2nd seat is not a good idea. Partner will expect much more.
9: Bid 2S. They are cold for game, maybe even slam, make it as hard for them as possible. At this vulnerability in 3rd seat, anything goes.
10: Pass. This hand is lousy, nothing you can bid that makes any sense would suggest a lead, or take up space, and you not do have an opening hand.