Before resorting to any specific technique, it is recommended to decide on a bidding system that will be used by the partnership.
Bidding systems and conventions
A pair is allowed to try to pass information about their hands, but this is restricted in two ways:
- Information may only be passed by the calls made and later by the cards played, and not by any other means.
- All information passed must be available to the opponents. At a minimum, a player must fully explain a call or play made by her partner upon being asked by an opponent. In club and tournament play, additional disclosure mechanisms including partnership convention cards and the alert procedure usually must be used.
Thus, one may have all kinds of meanings for bids, as long as they are told to the opponents. However, the meanings that one can have for various bids are sometimes restricted at tournaments.
The meaning of the various bids in a partnership are called that partnership's bidding system. A number of different bidding systems exist, such as Goren, Acol, Standard American, and Precision Club. Many experts today use a system called Two Over One (2/1).
Bids, Doubles, Redoubles, and even Passes can be either natural or conventional.
A natural suit bid is one that implies some length in the suit bid. For example, an opening bid of one spade, showing at least 5 cards in spades (and nothing about any other suit lengths), would be natural.
A conventional suit bid provides information unrelated to the suit named. For example, an opening bid of one club, showing 16 or more points, but saying nothing about how many clubs are held, would be conventional.
A natural notrump bid is one that implies a balanced distribution of cards among all suits (no particularly long suit, although many experts will bid no trump with up to five cards in one suit as long as the bidder has no singletons or voids and at most one doubleton) and a certain number of points as agreed upon by the partnership.
A conventional notrump bid says none of these things. The most common examples of conventional notrump bids are the Unusual notrump (showing length in 2 unbid suits) and the Blackwood convention.
A natural double (also called penalty) is one that implies an intent to defend and defeat the current contract.
A conventional double is one that conveys some other meaning. The most common example of a conventional double is the Takeout double of a low-level bid, implying support for the unbid suits and asking partner to choose one of them.
There are many conventions. Some of the most famous are Stayman, Jacoby transfers and Blackwood.
The decision as to how high and what suit to bid is fundamental to the game, but broadly it will depend on how highly one values one's hand. There are a number of techniques used for this. The most basic is the Milton Work point count. This can be augmented by other guidelines such as losing trick count, law of total tricks or Zar Points (http://public.aci.on.ca/~zpetkov/TheAnnotation.html).
Each bidding system can be either very detailed or very basic. Here are three common bidding systems. Until such time as you can find adequate description of these systems here, just search for the names. There are descriptions of these systems elsewhere on the web.
- Standard American (see also 2/1 variation)
- 5 card majors, strong 1NT, min. 3 card minors, Stayman, Blackwood, take-out doubles
- Acol (popular in the UK)
- 4 card majors
- Precision or Strong Club
- 1st bid shows points, not suit. (1C=16-20pts; 1D=11-15pts)
On choosing and applying a bidding system.
If you look up Richard Pavlicek, you will see that the guy invented a bidding system No, actually he invented four bidding systems. On wait, he actually invented four flavors of one bidding system.
Suppose you and your partner decide the Richard Pavilcek's system is the best system in the world, and you want to play it. Which flavor should you choose?
Even if you do choose a flavor, you will run into several kind of mishaps:
- Forgetting the conventions you are actually playing.
- Bidding more or less according to the system, and bidding bad contracts (bad contracts are the ones that are below average in any competitive bridge hand)
- You think that you partner, or you opponent play more often than you.
These three problems will arise no matter what bidding system you and your partner choose, unless you understand bidding in a deeper way, and not just by rote learning.
In order to properly understand bidding you have to first understand, really fully understand the play of the hand, both on the defender and on the declarer side.
From now on, I shall assume that you do.
You take any bridge hand, and play it double dummy. You play it in several contracts: for example 6♠ by NS, three notrump by EW/ After you play the hand several time you will realize, that playing double dummy, with competent play by declarer and defenders, some contracts can be made, and other cannot be.
Of all the NS contracts possible to make, one will get the NS partnership most points, let's suppose that this is 3H by north. The same goes for EW, let's suppose that their optimal contract is 3S. the proper result for this hand is 3♠ by EW.
That means that any good bidding system should lead EW to 3♠, or a better result. Ho do we accomplish this? that takes some doing, but for now, just make sure you get yo the proper results, if you do not, ask yourself why not.