The Primary Stages of Contract Bridge Bidding
The need for correctly evaluating a hand is rather important before a player decides to open the bid in any kind of bridge game. It is particularly true in the case of contract bridge where a partnership is required to bid meticulously to reach the right contract – especially so when a game or a slam is deemed makeable.
The bidding (or the auction) process in contract bridge can either finish relatively early, or may take a considerably long time. It all depends on the lay of cards in all the four hands.
The shortest of the auction, obviously, comes about when all the players pass. The longer ones could comprise of a whole lot of bids made by all (or most of) the players till one of the two partnerships reaches the eventual contract, which may be doubled or just passed by both opponents.
Stages of Bidding in Contract Bridge
It is mandatory for the four players to participate in the auction process – beginning with the dealer in a clockwise sequence. A player can simply pass, make a tricks-bid, double a bid made by an opponent, or redouble an opponent’s double. (The doubles and redoubles, by the way, get revoked if a subsequent player comes up with a higher bid.)
The stages of bidding in contract bridge, primarily, are:
- Opening Bid. The opening bid is the first tricks-bid made by a player when his turn comes for bidding. It could be right in the beginning of the auction (by the dealer himself) or after one or more passes.
- A higher bid over the bid of an opponent is known as an overall.
- The bid by the partner of the opener, or of the player who made the overcall.
- As a general rule, all such bids must be in conformity with the bidding systems and conventions being followed by the two partnerships. The system/convention should be duly declared by both the partnerships prior to the beginning of the game and the bids, as and when required, may also need to be explained (through alerts) during the bidding process.
HCP Yardsticks for Bidding in Contract Bridge
There are a few point count yardsticks that are normally considered by the players before making an effort at bidding at any stage of the process. The least numbers of point count, in terms of high card points (HCP) required in a hand to bid under different situations (albeit ideally, and never as a rule) are:
- Opening Bids – 12+HCP.
- Overcalls – 8+ HCP.
- Response by a Partner – At least 6 HCP.
The lay of the cards in a hand – adding to its value through distributional points – also greatly influence the bidding of a player. As such, there will be a difference in the evaluation technique if a player happens to hold a balanced hand that merits a bid in no-trump.
The relevancy of HCP notwithstanding, there can be many deviations in contract bridge bidding strategies adopted by players and partnerships. Depending on the system and conventions followed by a partnership, the biddings may vary at any point during an auction process.