You open one-of-a-major and partner raises to two-of-your-major. What are
your thoughts about game tries?What is the prototype 3 game try after 1 - 2?
What about 1 - 2? An easy way to avoid going minus is to
play semi-constructive major-suit raises. If you wouldn’t accept any game try,
bid 1NT and then support partner’s major. Opener will be less aggressive if he
doesn’t have a known eight-card major suit fit. If you held
432A32Q432432 and raise opener’s-major and he makes any
game try, you would not accept. You could easily end up at the three-level going
down. You avoid ending up in three-of-opener’s major if you respond 1NT and then
support partner. Play a major-suit single raise as 7+ to 10- dummy points. You
can use these methods even if you’re playing 1NT as non-forcing. There are many
types of game tries. One of them is a simple help-suit game try. What you bid is
what you have. If you have a choice about which suit to game-try, bid the
lowest. This gives partner a chance to re-invite. There is a problem with
help-suit game tries. Suppose you are 5-2-4-2 and want to make a game try. Your
only long suit is diamonds. You could have: (1)
AQxxxKxKJxxKx or (4)
AQxxxKxAxxxQx. If you bid 3, partner might ignore club values and
might not know what diamond holding he needs to accept. Qxx is very good
opposite (3) but not opposite (1).
---Over the years, it amazes me how little
difference this makes. I've played some fancy methods that didn't really help.
The tradeoff is that showing shortness, for example, gives up so much info to
the defense that it doesn't result in much of a net gain. So now I play simple
"help suit" tries with 2NT natural and non-forcing, and three-of-the-major asks
about trumps and aces. We also narrow the one-of-a-major – two-of-the-major
range a bit with exactly three trumps or a soft 4-3-3-3. Best methods, if you
want to get real fancy, is for the first step to ask partner to bid the first
suit where he would reject a short-suit game try and skip over suits where he
would accept. This method doesn't give away as much info.
Qxxx would be my prototype 3
---I have most often used long-suit tries. After
, I might have bid 3
A843. I did not use "help suit"
tries with a worthless holding in the suit. I seldom used preemptive re-raises:
I thought it was more useful to treat a re-raise as a general try for game,
asking partner to give special weight to the quality of his trump support. I
think short-suit tries are playable. In The Bridge World about 30 years ago, if
my memory serves, George Rosenkranz published a method that allowed combining
long-suit and short-suit tries. My style in vulnerable game bidding was to
stretch to try but not to accept. With a sound invitation, just bid game. I
thought it was necessary to try aggressively; otherwise good games would be
missed. But I can understand the other approach -- to accept aggressively --
which avoids going minus after an unsound try.
---There is a lot of merit to two-way game tries;
that is, short and long suit tries. Lacking that understanding, though, I like
to try in the cheapest suit I need help with. For example, 1
cheapest game try. If I should pass over spades, then any cards partner holds
there are likely to be useless. I could have a hand like:
general, partner should bid game with any maximum, except in the example above.
xxxx, I would not accept a try, when opener skipped over
spades. But in the same auction, I would like this hand:
Granted, this is a maximum anyway, but even without the
K, I would accept a 3
game try. In short, when partner makes a game try, look at your holding in the
suit and at your overall values. Either of these could determine whether or not
to accept the try.
When partner makes a game try, discount kings and queens in suits that he
skipped over. Aces and trumps are always good.
---I prefer help-suit game tries and I won’t
preempt partner. So if I bid one-of-a-major and he bids two-of-the-same-major
and I go to 3
, I’m really not interested in his spade values, if our suit was
hearts, or club values, in either case. On the other hand, if it goes 1
and I try with 2
, then if he kicks it back with 3
, I may be interested.
Or if I tried with 3
and he bid 3
I may be interested. The key points here: a
queen where I bid is good, some other queen isn’t; kings I've gone by are not
good; you may assume aces are; the more trumps always the better; and lastly,
partner's game try might really be a slam try; so, a mere accept is sometimes an
underbid. If he makes a game try in a suit and he’s hit your KQxx(x), you have
to raise that suit for example. If you have a king in a higher suit and were
kicking it back so to speak and he signs off, you quit. On the other hand if you
were going regardless but making a below game cue bid, then you just bid game,
after he signs off, and he'll get it. What about 1
There should certainly be a difference between spades and hearts. I personally
feel that once they've had that many opportunities to bid, and haven’t, it's
your hand, and 1-2-3 should be progressive.
If it goes 1 - Pass - 2 - Pass, the opponents might balance but they don’t
figure to bid game but then they might not even balance. Why bid 3 when you
might buy it for 2. Therefore, 3 should be a game try. However, if they bid
anything, 3 is a signoff and demands that partner pass.
---Very natural, ideally four cards in length,
not help suit ---the best holding to have would be Kx as that is good
opposite any suit. A jump is now a void, as slams are possible with 7-3-3-0,or
6-4-3-0, or 7-4-2-0. If the opponents are not bidding, then 1-2-3 is
---I believe the best way to look at game tries is
for partner to look at xxx in the suit you bid as the worst possible
holding. Therefore, holding something like KJxx, AJxx or AQxx are the most ideal
holdings. Now of course we know you are rarely dealt such a perfect hand, so
there is no perfect solution, and partner evaluating their holding in your suit
has to be only a small part of the equation when deciding whether to accept the
game try. Also note that when you bid the other major this could essentially be
on any quality of suit (at least four in the suit), because getting to the 4-4
fit is usually better than the 5-3 fit. Maybe it is better to use short-suit
tries!! You could combine the two by playing the next step relays for a
short-suit try, and then the next three steps are long-suit tries but you lose
your natural 2NT try, which can be important. So 1
relays to 2NT for
an up-the-line short-suit try. You can even keep 2NT as natural and play that
are up-the-line long-suit tries. You just lose the 3
which is practically worthless anyway.
---Kyle Larsen and my direct raise to two of our
major is semi-constructive, usually with three trumps, and we play help suit
game tries. We also play mixed raises with four and, of course, weak jumps to
the three-level. With all weak hands (0-5) we bid 1NT forcing first. All of our
help suit game tries in any suit have length.
---Long-suit game tries, occasionally lead stopping
oriented. 2NT is forcing and natural. We can’t play below three-of-our-major.
Another type of game try is the random game try. After 1 - 2, 2NT is a
balanced game try, 3 is a random game try and the red suits are slam tries.
After 1 - 2, 2 is a random game try, 2NT is a balanced game try and the minor
suits are slam tries.
---I think the next suit should just be a random-game
try and the other bids should be slam tries. It makes a big difference whether
you are responding to a slam try or game try because you need different hand
types to accept a game try versus a slam try. I like to play 2NT as a natural
game try, 2
as a random game try if hearts are trumps and 3
if spades are
trumps, therefore the other suit bids are slam tries.
---First step is a random game try, all other bids
are for slam. Disclosing your hand for game at IMPs is losing bridge.
---I don't like to TELL. It makes the defense too
easy, especially, short-suit tries -- where the defense will know to lead that
suit. I prefer either just bashing to game, or using a system that ASKS. Such as
next step shows game interest (artificially) and responder TELLS.
---Mine is likely to be a minority view, but at
least to me, game tries in the subject category, if specific, will be more
helpful to the opponent's opening lead and subsequent defense than it will be to
the declarer. Consequently my choice is RGT, translated to random game tries,
with no meaning whatsoever. No proof, only gut feel, since, when long in a suit
sometimes a random queen or jack held by partner is useless, but other times it
solidifies the holding similar to a jack's worth opposite a king, queen, but
lack of worth opposite an ace and usually opposite a king and sometimes a queen
(not when the 10 accompanies it, though). Short-suit game tries have certainly
more tangible value, but enable the opponents quite often to defend double
dummy, including their opening lead, not to mention deception by the third seat
---I am coming around to the idea of: (i.) an
anonymous game try (ii.) a non-revealing help suit or short-suit try where
partner (a.) accepts all, (b.) rejects all, or (c.) bids accordingly with one
or more acceptances and one or more rejections. However, I suppose the typical
try would be three to the ace, king or queen.
---If we start out by defining one-of-a-major –
two-of-a-major as a hand that promises to accept a game try somewhere, it makes
the concept easier. On all other hands, my initial response to partner’s opening
bid in a major suit is 1NT. I prefer to use a new suit as natural, which can
even lead to getting to slams in the secondary fit. We can now use 2NT to ask
partner to bid the first suit he would accept a help-suit game try in --
returning to the trump suit announces he was accepting only because of good
trumps. Bidding 3NT shows a balanced max with scattered values. The idea is to
never give away our own hand with help suit or short-suit game tries, which I
---I like to play two-way game tries. Of course
playing a strong club you don't need a power bid. So step one is a relay to make
a short-suit game try, and you can respond by bidding the first suit you would
reject and the next three steps are classic help suits, maybe Axx. Axxx or
Kxx(x), Qxx(x), or Jxxx would all be apt. I am reminded of what Jim Jacoby told
me about IMP game tries -- don’t make them vulnerable, just bid game. I guess
tries are just hoping, but at matchpoints going minus when you voluntarily bid
to the three-level is a major no-no.
Another type of game try is the three-way game try. After 1 - 2, 2NT is
artificial and says that you are going to make a short-suit game try. Responder
has four options. If he would not accept any short-suit game try, he bids 3. If
he would accept all short-suit game tries, he bids something at the four-level
with 4 as an artificial slam accept. If he has strength in a red suit he bids
it. If he wants to know which is the short-suit game try suit, he bids 3.
Opener answers by bidding 3, 3, 3 to show short-suit game tries in clubs,
diamonds or hearts, and bids the next three steps to show slam tries. After 1-
2, 3, 3, 3 are natural long-suit game tries. A direct raise to 3 asks about
trumps. After 1- 2, the logic is the same but everything is one step lower.
---Part of the game tries depends on the
definition of the single raise. If it is a wide range bid, the partnership is in
jeopardy at the three-level. I tend to play three-card semi constructive raises
so it is 7+ to 10 dummy points. Now, I can incorporate short-suit game tries
which is usually a singleton with the first step, help to long-suit game tries
with steps two, three and four and a power game try with the fifth (1
). Natural suits speak for themselves although it should have a high honor.
If it is a three-card suit, it should also have a high honor; otherwise, partner
does not know how to evaluate his queen in the suit. For those who make a help
suit game try equally with xxx or Axx in the suit, they are lost and are on
---I prefer three-way game tries. Next step:
asks partner what suit they would accept a game-try in, including short-suit
game tries (step bidding), and a suit raise, which is a trump suit game try. A
game try after 1
is Qxx or Jxxx.
---If this is a question about which treatment I
prefer, I kind of like Kokish (or Ewen or Kleinman) two -(or three)-way game
tries, but I play whatever falls into my partner's comfort zone. The
two-or-three ways incorporate both short-suit and long-suit game tries, as well
as a trump-quality try without immediately disclosing the strong hand's area of
concern. The next level up asks for the first suit in which partner would accept
a game try. Anything else shows shortness in the named suit (except there are
variations after 1
). At IMPs, vulnerability obviously affects whether I
make a game try, pass, or bid a game forthwith. Vulnerable, one can bid more
aggressively, since the break even point is at a mere 37.5 vulnerable, i.e. you
need only a 37.5 probability of making game when vulnerable, and only a 45%
chance not vulnerable--less if you're Canadian, and still less if, in addition,
you have an American on lead. Ergo, you should quickly calculate the percentages
on each hand before you bid a game. How? I'll tell you, I don't know. But you
can usually gauge whether or not a hand has possibilities. Bridge is a game of
possibilities and a continuing quest to realize them. Once we have established a
fit we consider the questions of power and promoting the factor of
distribution. I always tell my audiences that a hand improves most rapidly when
a fit is established. A double fit is even better. Then, we look at
controls. Aces are especially good for suit play. I might make a game inquiry
with as little as
A109x and hope to catch partner with some thing
QJxx. With a hand like
x, I would ask about the quality of partner's trump holding.
The prototype for a 3
call by opener would, once again, depend on system.
Playing the above systems it would be a short-suit game try (or the reverse -- a
long-suit game try, if I were playing Ewen's two-way.) The prototypical 3
playing "standard" or help suit game tries, traditionally asks for help in the
club suit. Both hands one and two have help.
---I prefer two-way game tries where the next
step after a single raise forces the next step to then show shortness--all other
bids show length. I try never to make a long-suit try with xxx. Typical holdings
for a long-suit try include Kxx, Kxxx, Kxxxx, etc., Axx, Axxx, Axxxx, same with
Q----- and J-------.
---Ross and I play two-way game tries, therefore,
bidding a suit other than 2
shows a suit you need help in, most
typically xxx, but other holdings are possible. As responder, I would not accept
with xxx or Jxx under almost any circumstances, unless I have two
aces. Shortness or the Ace is almost a guaranteed acceptance. Now, we play 2NT
shows a short-suit game try. Partner bids 3
and we show our short suit. Over 1
- 2NT- 3
shows short diamonds, 3
shows short hearts, and 3
short clubs. Over 1
says I am making a game try in spades. Partner
bids 2NT. 3
says it was a short-suit game try in spades, 3
says it was a help
suit game try in spades, and 3
says it is a hand with four spades and six
hearts, undoubtedly less in high cards, since with that distribution and
significant extras, you would be more inclined to just bid a game. Over 1
2NT says I am making a short suit game try in a minor. Partner bids 3
says it was a short-suit game try in diamonds. 3
says it was a short-suit
game try in clubs.
---I treat partner's game try bid as holding three or
four cards to a queen or king, and bid accordingly. I also use 2NT as a game
try, asking partner to bid the lowest suit in which he'd accept a game try.
Holding a maximum raise but without help in the game try suit, I'd bid that
suit. If I held
AQxx, over 3
, I'd bid 4
, over 3
, I'd bid 3
, I'd bid 4
. Note - a new suit denies help in the help suit game try
suit, but a maximum.
---One of the "in" conventions these days is Help
Suit Game Tries. After 1
, opener bids the suit where he needs
help. A weak three-card suit such as Jxx or xxx is ideal. Responder will then
judge whether he has help. An ideal holding for him would be Ax or KQ10 x. If he
has no help, such as xxx, he'll sign off even if he has a maximum.
However, this is NOT a good convention. Why?
1. The very last thing declarer should do is tell the enemy which suit he is
weak in. If this convention was "in" when I was playing, I would have found the
killing opening lead a lot more often than I did!
2. On many hands, opener has no "need help" suit.
AQ As a
result, opener often makes his game-try in a suit where he really doesn't need
help. This results in chaos about what opener is supposed to have, what
responder needs, etc. Recently, I even saw a player make a help suit game-try
I suggest Bergen Game Tries. After a raise to two, 2NT by opener is an asking
bid. With a shapely maximum, responder jumps to game. If he has a short suit (0
-2 cards), he bids the suit. With a 4-3-3-3 hand, he bids three of the trump
suit with a minimum hand, and 3NT with a maximum. Once opener knows details
about partner's shape, he will usually know what to do. Note that opener is NOT
revealing anything about his hand. All that is disclosed is information about
dummy's hand. If opener has a short suit (0 or 1), instead of bidding 2NT, he'll
make a short-suit game try. Responder will evaluate his hand as if opener had
splintered. I also use the above after Two-Way Reverse Drury.
---I play a new suit is a short-suit game try. 2NT
is a general game try without disclosing info.
---I like to play that 2NT denies shortness and
asks partner to show a concentration of strength. Partner can raise to 3NT, sign
off, or jump to game in the agreed major. A bid at the three-level tends to be a
four-card suit, usually headed by a high honor needing shortness or honor
fillers for partner to accept by bypassing the three-level of the agreed major.
In theory it shows some 5-4-3-1 hand. If partner can show three-level
concentration without a fit for the game-try suit, he should do so, as that may
match the side three-card suit. Jumps to the four-level are two-suited slam
tries. A jump to 3NT shows a void and 4
asks. This works best when spades is
the agreed suit.
---I play two-way game tries. Two-of-the-major +1 is
an unspecified short-suit game try, partner bids next step to ask which, and the
short suit is shown via up-the-line responses. The next bids are long/help suit
game tries, again coded up the line. A long/help suit game try should be in a
suit where partner's minor honors and shortness are of value -- xxx is the worst
holding. Partner knows his aces and trump honors are good. It is his minor suit
side honors that he doesn't know are working or not. Of course, my favorite game
try is to just bid game and try to make it.
There is no standard way of responding to short suit game tries.You can play
up-the-line steps, where the first step shows clubs, or you can play natural
where you bid as natural as possible. Discuss this if you decide to play
short-suit game tries.
---Natural to semi-natural. I do not like short-suit
game tries. The prototype 3
game try after 1
---Varies with partner's range, which can change
substantially from method to method. Generally, I follow the principle to try if
a perfect minimum makes game excellent.
---Since I open all mid-range balanced hands with
1NT, I believe most game tries will be unbalanced hands. Therefore I play
normally "short-suit game tries." I use 2NT as a general strength try, and
re-raise as a mild game try with a sixth trump. When I do not play short-suit
game tries, the prototype for 3
AJxx, where responder
holding xxx is bad, Qxx or xx useful. I play wide-range raises to
two-of-the-major: can be as light as, say,
xxx and as good as
xx. I play the raise to three-of-the-major as an "eight-loser"
hand with four trumps, but responder can easily have four working values with
only three trumps and 4-3-3-3 distribution.
---Reverse Romex game tries. Long-suit tries are
Honorxx(x) with step one initiating short-suit tries.
---Since we are big believers in Bergen raises, our
simple raises are always three-trump constructive raises. We might have four
trumps only if we are 4-3-3-3. In addition to that style, we stretch to open 1NT
with five-card majors, and will do so with any 5-4-2-2 as long as the five-card
suit is lower ranking than the four-card suit. So with 4-5-2-2 we open 1NT and
respond to 3
Puppet Stayman as if we have 4-4 in the majors. After a raise, we
need a pretty good hand to make a game try. I would say it starts with 16 HCP
with any 5-4-2-2. Help suit game tries are for the birds, so all of our
long-suit tries are us bidding what we have, not what we need. 1
relays to 2NT for a short-suit game try. Then opener bids low-middle-high
shortness. 2NT shows long spades or is a power try (17-18 balanced). Responder
responds in steps: accept suit, accept power, accept neither, and anything
higher accepts both. 3
are natural long-suit tries and usually show four
or more cards. 3
asks for trump quality. After we open 1
, we play the same
structure with 2NT being the relay for the short suit and 3
being either long
in clubs or the power try. The power try is often used to determine if want to
play 3NT or four-of-the-major. Direct 3NT is more of a command and slow 3NT is
more of a choice. This entire structure is off in competition.
---The more distribution I have with my points
in my suits, the more I would make a try, and if I had a short-suit game try
available I would do that. Balanced 5-3-3-2 hands I discount, even with 15 or 16
HCP that I chose not to open 1NT.
---Years ago I played two, three, and four-way
game tries. I gave them up in favor of short-suit game tries, which Kaplan
recommended. 2NT and three-of-our-major are game tries with no small singleton.
Any long-suit game try becomes a random game try.You have two better choices.One
choice is to play two-way game tries where the next step is the start of a
short-suit game try. The other choice is to play random game tries. Therefore,
after 1 - 2, play 2NT is a balanced game try and 3 is a random unbalanced
game try. If asked, just say that 3 says nothing about clubs and asks me to
make use of my great judgment about how high we belong. After 1 - 2, 2 is the
random unbalanced game try, and 2NT is a balanced game try. Other bids are slam