Book a Course

View all the latest courses going on at the bridge club and book yours now...
View Courses View Playing Schedule

Respond the cheaper of four card suits

Without support for opener, responder should plan to bid their longest suit at the lowest level.

With two+ four-card suits, responder should bid the cheaper, ensuring that no fit gets missed. You won't bid the other four-card suit, but if partner doesn't either then there won't be a fit.

With two five-card suits (far less frequent), things are different, because you do intend to bid your other five-card suit. Much like as opener, it is better to bid the higher-ranking five-card suit first, expecting to finish the two-­stage operation (ie after bidding your second suit) more economically.

Exercise: What should these hands respond to (a) 1 (b) 1?

Hand i) Hand ii) Hand iii)
♠ K 9 8 2
J 3
Q 8 42
8 3 2
♠ A J 7 6 3
♥ Q 7
♦ K J 8 6 4
♣ 2
♠ J 9 8 2
4 3
♦ K J 4 3 2
♣ J 6

Hand (i): (a). Respond 1, cheaper of fours. (b). Respond 1, the cheaper suit to introduce over partner's 1. Note that 'cheaper' does not mean 'lower ranked'; it means the suit you get to first as you work up from partner's bid.

Hand (ii): (a) and (b): Respond 1, 'high fives'. Bid the higher-ranking of two five-card suits whether opening, responding or overcalling.

Hand (iii): (a). Respond 1: longest suit at lowest level. (b): Respond 1 because you have insufficient to respond a new suit at the two-level. 
North Deals
None Vul
A 2
K 6 4 2
A J 10 7 6 3
K Q 8 7
Q 9 8 7 6
J 9 5
W   E
10 9 6 5
K J 10
10 8
Q 9 8 5
J 4 3
A 5 4 2
A Q 7 3
K 2
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 1
Pass 3  Pass 6 2
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Cheaper of fours. If South erroneously responds 1 or, worse still, leaps in notrumps, then it is almost certain N-S will settle in 3 NT which, if West leads a heart, will likely fail.
  2. South might be more scientific here, but the point is that South's hand is GREAT (so that if he did have just one bid, 6 is the value of his hand facing jump support). Of South's 14 points, only one, J, is of dubious value. The others are the ace-queen of trumps - dearly huge, the ace of hearts and, almost best of all, the ginormous king of partner's clubs.

Declarer - in 6  - beat  K lead with dummy's  A and drew trumps in three rounds. He cashed  K, crossed to  A (West discarding), then led  J for a marked ruffing finesse through East's  Q9. East chose to cover  J with  Q so he ruffed, cashed  A, ruffed  2, cashed  1076 and merely gave up the last trick to West's  Q. 12 tricks and slam made.


ARBC: 31 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HH
Call NOW: 0207 471 4626