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Update December 20, 2014

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Your right hand opponent deals and opens the bidding. Do you overcall your suit? This is always a difficult decision to make. Good reasons to overcall are to get in the way of the opponents’ bidding, to find a contract, if the contract is yours, or to get a good lead from your partner if you end up on defence. Downsides are finding yourself in a poor contract (maybe doubled!) and alerting the opponents about the distribution.

Andrew Robson, the well-known player and writer on bridge, has proposed a Suit Quality Overcall Test (SQOT) as a guide as to when to overcall and when not. I am grateful to Martin Bagnall, one of the pioneers of the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai, for bringing it to my attention.

Robson considers the strength of the suit more important than the strength of the hand when it comes to overcalling. He suggests overcalling with a very wide range of hand strengths.
“A good five+ card suit in a hand of a wide-ranging point count, anything from six or seven points (with a very good suit) to 17 or 18 points: that’s what a suit overcall looks like.”

According to Robson, the SQOT states: “add up the number of cards in the suit (five+) to the number of honours in the suit. The total should get to (at least) the number of tricks bid for. In marginal situations, be more cautious when vulnerable.” He gives four examples, which I have reproduced below:

“RHO opens the bidding 1C. What should the following hands bid?

1) Bid 1S. Just six points, but a Suit Quality Count of eight; that ten of spades really helps to bolster the suit. 1S over 1C consumes plenty of bidding space, maximising the nuisance value.

2) Pass. Eleven points, but what a poor suit, poor shape (you’d much prefer Hand 1’s 5431) and defensive looking “Soft” honours (picture cards as opposed to aces).

3) Bid 1NT. Yes, you could bid 1D, but bidding 1NT as an overcall shows 15 – 19, balanced with a stopper in the opposing suit. Perfect.

4) Double. You can’t bid 1H for the lack of a fifth card. This double for take out shows a three suited opening hand with short clubs and asks partner to choose a suit. Ideal.”

It is certainly an interesting way to look at overcalls, and I for one will be giving it a try. The next column will feature a sample hand illustrating the SQOT. I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—particularly if featuring SQOT! Please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise



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