Pin It

Bridge scoring makes major suit and notrump games more attractive than minor suit games.

Strain Tricks Needed for Game Points per Trick
or ♠ 10 30
Notrump 9 40 for the 1st trick, 30 thereafter
♣ or 11 20

Minor suit games should be bid only when easier (less tricks required) and more lucrative (more points per trick) games are not feasible. So your bidding should focus on finding major suit games and notrump games.

There is a similar bias for partscore contracts because notrump scores 10 more points for the same tricks as compared to a major suit contract. A major suit contract scores 10 more points per trick as compared to a minor suit contract.

For a major suit contract to score better than a notrump contract, an additional trick must be available in the major suit contract. An 8-card or better fit in a major suit will often provide an additional trick because your losers can be ruffed. Ruffing a loser in the short hand (the hand with fewer trump) provides an additional trick. Similarly, trumps can act as a stopper. In a notrump contract, if the defenders establish winners in a suit and gain the lead, there is nothing you can do to stop them from cashing their winners. In a suit contract, your trumps act as a stopper. When you are out of their suit and have trumps remaining, you can ruff to prevent the defenders from cashing their winners. When your partnership has an 8-card or better major suit fit, you typically want to play in the major because of the potential for ruffing to provide an extra trick.

This explains why bidding systems are designed to find 8-card or better major suit fits. Standard American and 2/1 Game Force are popular bidding systems where a minor suit opening shows a 3-card or longer suit and a major suit opening shows a 5-card or longer suit. When your 1 and 1♠ opening bid promises a 5+ card suit, responder can raise opener’s major with 3-card support knowing they have an 8+ card fit. Responder’s raise should reflect their strength. Raising to the 2-level shows 6-10 points. Raising to the 3-level is invitational, showing 11-12 points. To force to game with 3-card support, bid a new suit at the 2-level and then support opener’s major. To show a game forcing raise (13+ points) with 4+ card support, it is common to use an artificial Jacoby 2NT raise or a Splinter bid.

If you have an opening hand with no 5-card major, you open 1♣, 1, or notrump. A minor suit opening shows a 3-card or longer suit. Responder’s priority is to look for an 8-card or better major suit fit. A 1 or 1♠ response shows a 4+ card suit. If responder is an unpassed hand, a new suit by responder is forcing for one round. If opener has 4+ card support for responder’s major, opener should raise responder’s major in accordance with their strength.

  • A raise to the 2-level shows 12-15 points and typically 4+ card support
  • A jump raise to the 3-level shows 16-17 points and 4+ card support
  • A raise to game shows 18+ points and 4+ card support.
    Note that opener can use a double jump shift Splinter bid to show a game forcing raise with shortness in the bid side suit.  A jump to the 4-level in opener’s minor shows a game forcing raise for responder’s major with length and strength in opener’s minor.