Supporting Partner’s Major (Standard)

Length: 10 minutes

Action as Responder

Remember the two goals of the auction:

  1. Find an 8-card major fit.
  2. Bid a game if you have 25 HCP between you (3NT, 4Major or 5minor).

Now let’s think about what your partner is promising when he opens 1♥ or 1♠:

  • 5+ cards in his suit
  • 12+ HCP (usually up to 19 for reasons which will become clear later!)

Goal 1: Your 8-card major fit

If your partner has promised 5 cards in his major, you have support if you also have 3 cards in that major because you then have at least 8 between you.

In order to fulfil Goal 1, you should show your major support if you have it.

Goal 2: Bidding a game with 25 combined HCP

If you have 13 HCP and Partner has promised 12 by opening, you already know that you have enough strength for game, so you should bid game. A hand this strong is called a “game-going” hand.

If Partner could have 19 HCP when opening, you should never pass with 6 when responding.

Now consider Partner’s possible number of HCP and split that down the middle:

12 13 14 15 ¦ 16 17 18 19

minimum         maximum

If you will only have enough for game if your partner has a maximum opening hand, your hand is a “weak” hand. Considering that Partner’s maximum range is 16-19, that means that a weak responding hand would therefore be 6-9 HCP. With a weak hand, raise Partner’s major by just one level.

If you might be able to make a game even if your partner has a minimum hand but cannot commit to game straightaway, your hand is an “invitational” hand. Considering that Partner’s minimum range is 12-15, that means that an invitational responding hand would therefore be 10-12 HCP. With an invitational hand, make a jump bid in Partner’s major.


  • Pass = 0-5 HCP
  • 2Major = 6-9 HCP, 3 cards in the major         weak
  • 3Major = 10-12 HCP, 3 cards in the major     invitational
  • 4Major = 13+ HCP, 3 cards in the major        game-going

Next action as Opener

If your partner has shown a weak hand:

  • You are game-going if you have 19 HCP (as 19 + 6 = 25), so bid 4Major
  • You are invitational if you have 16-18 HCP (other maximum opening hands), so bid 3Major to ask where Partner is in his range
  • With any minimum opening hand, pass.

Summary after 1Major – 2Major:

  • Pass = 12-15 HCP            weak
  • 3Major = 16-18 HCP     invitational
  • 4Major = 19+ HCP        game-going

If your partner has invited you to game:

  • You should accept with any maximum opening hand
  • Consider where you are in the minimum range –

12 13 ¦ 14 15

bad     good

– With a good minimum, you should accept

– With a bad minimum, you should pass

Summary after 1Major – 3Major:

  • Pass = 12-13 HCP           weak
  • 4Major = 14+ HCP        game-going
Back to: First Steps: How to Bid in Bridge (Standard)