Reply to Partner’s Suit Opener

Counting High Card Points and Distribution Points are the same for the responder as they are for the opener, but often responder bids with less points. As responder you will show your partner whether you have a minimal, medium or strong hand.

Quick overview

Responding to Partner’s Opening Bid & showing preference

In a bridge game if you don’t have enough of your partner’s suit, it isn’t  possible to support your partner’s’ opening bid.  Sometimes you need to explore by bidding, looking for a better ‘fit’. (A fit means that you have 8 cards between you and your partner in a particular suit.)
If you bid in a new suit this is forcing on your partner to keep bidding going (a “forcing” bid) for one round. You promise by a bid that you have at least 4 cards in the new suit bid.
If you bid a new suit at the 1-level -this shows your partner you have at least 6 HCP.
Keep the bidding as low as you can to leave more room to explore for a fit.
If your partner opens a suit and on their second bid shows another suit, it is your responsibility to look at your hand and tell them which of the suits your hand is better suited for playing in. This is known as showing ‘preference’ if you have equal numbers of cards in both suits (as you will have in the practise game below) you should return partner to their first bid suit because it will be longer.

New Guided Bridge Hand to Play EVERY DAY

  • Bid (show) a suit at the 1-level if possible
  •  Bid 1NT to show you have 6-9 HCP and no 4 card majors
  • If you have two four card major suits and 6+ points bid the lower ranking one first (your heart suit)
  • If you change the suit and bid at the 2-level, you will need at least 10+ HCP and a 5 card major suit
  • If you change the suit and bid at the 2-level, you will need at least 10+ HCP and a 4 card minor suit
  • If you raise your partner’s suit to the level of 3 you promise 10-12 TP and 4-card suit support 
  • When partner bids two different suits – even with no points you should show preference by either leaving them in the second bid suit or returning them to their first bid suit (its longer)

Exercise: Partner opens the bidding with 1 ♥ and you have this hand. What is your bid?


  • ♠J 9 8 6 5
  • ♥K 6
  • ♦10 6 3
  • ♣Q 10 8

Answer: Bid 1♠. Keep the bidding as low as possible when changing suit. Here you cannot bid 2♥ because you do not have a 4 card heart suit OR 10+ points keep the bidding as low as possible. You wouldn’t bid 1NT because that denies a 4 card major suit

'Hand of the Day' - This Week June 3rd to 9th - Try it Free