Tellico Village Duplicate Bridge Club

Tellico is a member of Knoxville Bridge Association


Defense to No Trump


 A defensive bidding system against opponents 1 Notrump opening bid, whose acronym is Disturbing Opener's Notrump opening bid (occasionally call Bergen Over Notrump):

Bid Meaning
Double One suited hand; partner normally "puppets" by bidding 2C.  Overcaller then bids their suit or passes if Clubs was the long suit.
2C Clubs & higher Suit
2D Diamonds & higher Suit
2H Hearts & Spades
2S Spades, weaker than double followed by 2S
2N Clubs and Diamonds

Modified Cappeletti


Any double is for penalty as in the original conventional method. Partner must pass.

2 a:

Shows a single-suited holding in Diamonds OR a two-suited holding in an unspecified Major suit and an unspecified Minor suit. After a pass by the partner of the No Trump bidder, the advancer can bid 2a, which is forcing for one round. Then the overcaller will either pass or raise with a single-suiter in Diamonds if holding stronger values OR bid the Major suit if the holding is a two-suiter.

If the overcaller shows the two-suited holding after the 2a bid, then the advancer can bid 2 No Trump to return to the actual Minor suit (Clubs or Diamonds), or pass if the Major suit is preferred.

2 a:

Shows both Major suits as in the original conventional method.

2 a:

Shows a single-suited holding in Hearts. Partner should pass after a No Trump opening by an opponent.

2 a:

Shows a single-suited holding in Spades. Partner should pass after a No Trump opening by an opponent.

2 NT:

Shows both Minor Suits.

3 a:

A natural bid showing length in Clubs. Possible one-suited holding.

The strength of the hand is determined not only by the shape of the holding but may also depend on the state of vulnerability. The responses of the partner of the overcaller (or advancer of the intervenor) are also determined by the partnership agreement as there are no general guidelines except those adopted by the partnership.

Mel Colchamiro:

On what types of hands should the direct seat opponent  overcall a 1 NT opener? I have developed a guideline that will help you answer this question. I call it Mel's Rule of 8.

Balancing after 1NT…P…P   ?

Mel Colchamiro

Suppose you hold

S.Q 7 5 3 H.9 D.A 10 5 C.J 8 6 4 2

and the bidding has gone 1NT—Pass—Pass— ?  Should you balance? With only 7 points? Mel's Rule of 2 says an emphatic yes! Here's why:

   What We Know

We know the opener has 15-17 high card points, but we also know that the responder has 0-8 hcp. We could summarize this by saying that the opener on average has 16 hcp and the responder on average has 4 hcp. So whenver the bidding comes around to you after 1NT—Pass—Pass— ?, you know their side has 20 hcp (on average) and your side has 20 hcp (on average). So your side has as much a right to the contract as they do!

Let’s go back to our example hand. With 7 points we know our partner has (on average) 13.

Also, she probably has a balanced hand since she didn’t bid herself. So whenever we are faced with a balancing decision after a 1NT opening bid, high card points are essentially irrelevant. The controlling factor is our distribution.

   Mel’s Balancing Rule of 2

You should balance whenever you have at least two shortness points, which I define as either a void, a singleton or two doubletons—no matter what your high card point strength is. Remember, the fewer points you have, the more partner has because your side will have 20 hcp (on average). If you have 5, partner will have 15, if you have 9, she will have 11, if you have 13, she will have 7.

To return to our example hand, we know partner has 13 hcp and our finesses will win because partner's (13) points lie over the notrump opener. However, if we have

S.A 7 4 H.K 9 6 2 D.K 10 3 C.K 9 8

we should pass with this balanced hand. Our finesses figure to lose since partner will have only 7 points on average. It’s funny, but the fewer of our side’s 20 theoretical points we have, the more eager we should be to balance—providing we have 2 shortness points. But even if we have the bulk of our side’s 20 theoretical points, we should balance if we have at least 2 shortness points.  
 What Mechanism to Use in the Balancing Seat I get the best results by using DONT in the balancing seat. DONT works fine in the direct position, but it’s a particularly big winner in the balancing seat, when used in conjunction with Mel’s Balancing Rule of 2. Using the DONT convention, any suit bid shows that suit plus a higher suit. Spades shows spades only, and a double shows a single suited hand.

  Does Vulnerability Matter?Not too much. Just because your side is vulnerable, doesn’t mean it can’t still have a good place to play. You will lose once in a while by balancing vulnerable and going down one (minus 100) versus plus 90 their way, but only once in a while. Sure, a vulnerable balance will get doubled and go down 500 or 800, but only once in a while. The majority of the time, following Mel’s Balancing Rule of 2 is a big winner. Remember Mel’s adage: “There are lots of ways to die at duplicate.” You can "die" by being too bold, you can "die" by being too cautious. Luck usually favors the bold.2