Raises with ten trumps

When your partnership has 25 or more points you look to bid for a game contract. The five game contracts are 3NT, 4♠, 4, 5 and 5♣.

There are many hands that can make a game contract without the usual point-count requirements. You can often make a lot of tricks when you have a lot of trumps. When partner bids and you assess your partnership has ten trumps you may raise partner’s suit immediately to the four level.

Do not worry about high-card strength when making a game raise based on trump length.

Example: Partner opens 1 and your hand is ♠9 K8653 K874 ♣762. Bid 4. With ten trumps you can bid a game contract without strength.

You may make this bid with 0 high-card points. With a ten-card trump suit you often make a sacrifice bid. If your side is not making a game contract with ten trumps, then it is likely your opponents will make a game contract.

Example: North opens 1, partner east overcalls 1♠, south bids 3 and you are west with ♠98653 3 J954 ♣853. Bid 4♠. Your opponents look likely to make 4.

Here are a couple of other times to look out for a ten-card fit.

  • You should look for a ten-card trump fit when partner opens with a weak two or three-level pre-empt. Raises of pre-empts may also be made with weak hands.

Example: Partner opens 3 and your hand is ♠94 865 A874 ♣A762. Bid 4. Partner has shown a seven-card suit so your partnership will have  ten cards in hearts.

  • Another time you may see a ten-card fit is when you open the bidding at the one level with a seven-card suit and partner raises you to the two level.

Example: You open 1 with ♠A53 KQ98652 A74 ♣2. After partner raises you to 2, you should bid 4. Partner must have three cards to support a one-level major suit opening bid so if you have seven cards in your suit you will know your partnership has a ten-card fit.

When your partner opens the bidding and you have a trump fit in partner’s suit and 13 or more points, you may also bid directly for a game contract. Partner won’t know you are bidding for a game because your partnership has 25 points as you would also bid directly for a game contract with a weak hand when you know the partnership has a ten-card trump fit.

There are a number of conventions used by intermediate and advanced players to show hands which are bidding for a game contract based on strength rather than a large trump fit. These conventions can also help you bid for a slam contract.

The raise conventions that show strength are Jacoby Raises, splinter bids and delayed strong raises. You will need to agree with your partner about using these conventions. If you have no special agreement then just bid directly for a game contract.

Example: Partner opens 1 and your hand is ♠A9 K865 AK74 ♣762. If your partnership knows Jacoby Raises, respond 2NT to show a trump fit with 13 or more points. If your partnership doesn’t know Jacoby Raises, respond 4.

© 2022 John Roberts