Raising Partner's Major
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Raising partner's major with a big hand.


There are various ways to raise partner's 1/ opening when you have a good hand with 4-card support. With a shortage you splinter and with a more balanced hand the Jacoby 2NT or the Swiss conventions are both popular.


Jacoby 2NT is an artificial bid of to 2NT which promises 4 card support and opening values. Opener then describes his hand furth er. I prefer for responder to have a good hand for Jacoby 2NT and I explain why below.


The Swiss convention is a jump to 4 or 4 over partner's 1/ opening to show different types of sound raise to 4 of the major. Last century the most popular form of Swiss was “Fruit Machine Swiss” whereby a bid of 4/ over partner's 1/ opening showed 12+ points with the 4 bid promising 2 aces and a feature. The feature being either a third ace, the king of trumps or a singleton. This works fine but really needs to be updated to incorporate the concept of key cards and the trump queen.


Now, especially in America, Jacoby 2NT is used in preference to Swiss and this too is an excellent convention. So which do I recommend?

Hand A Balanced hands with 4 card support and opening values normally use Jacoby 2NT. There is, however, a problem. Consider hands like this example. Partner opens 1, we bid Jacoby 2NT and hear about a singleton. But does opener have a shapely 11 count or a rock crusher?
K104 The response is the same.
QJ9 The problem is that with a relatively weak hand like this, responder should not really take charge by bidding Jacoby 2NT. It would be far better to describe our hand to opener and let him be the captain.
Hand B Hand C

So let's suppose that we use Key Card Swiss instead. We bid 4 and then tell partner about our feature. But how does partner know if we have a reasonable hand like Hand C or a strong hand like Hand B? We really should be the captain with Hand B and we should let partner be in charge with Hands A and C by using Swiss.

AQ93 AJ93
KQ5 Q52
74 74
AQ74 AQ74

So we shall use Jacoby 2NT on stronger hands, where there is a much greater probability of slam and with the weaker hands (12-15 pts) we use Key Card Swiss. Thus, with a balanced responding hand with 4+ trumps and 12+ pts we have: -

12-15 pts - Key card Swiss  
16+ pts - Jacoby 2NT  
  When responder has 12-15 he uses Key Card Swiss to describe his hand to opener and opener is the captain.  

When responder has 16+ he uses Jacoby 2NT to ask opener to define his hand furth er and responder is the captain.


When responder has a singleton but not two key cards (so cannot bid 4 ) then it is best to splinter directly rather than use the 4 Swiss bid. Opener thus knows that a 4 bid is a balanced raise and denies a singleton.

  When responder has a void (either range) it is best to tell partner directly by splintering.  

Since we use the 4/ bids as Swiss, splintering is done by jumping to three of the other major – an ambiguous splinter.


The Jacoby 2NT, Keycard Swiss and Ambiguous Splinters conventions are fully described in other documents. Let's have some examples of hands that should use differing responses, in all cases partner has opened 1.

Hand D Hand E Hand F Hand G Hand H
K653 K653 K653 AQ53 AQ53
5 5 53 5 53
KQ873 KQ873 KQ87 KQ873 KQ87
Hand D: has a singleton but not two key cards, so splinters.
Hand E: is the same but it has two key cards, so bids 4 Key Card Swiss.
Hand F: is the same strength but with no shortage or trump queen bids 4.
Hand G: is too strong for Swiss and so splinters.
Hand H: is too strong for Swiss and with no shortage it bids Jacoby 2NT.
Hand J Hand K Hand L Hand M Hand N
K653 K6532 KQ65 AQ6 AQ753
- 53 5 5 5
AJ9 KQ9 AJ9 AJ95 J95
KQ873 A108 K9873 K9873 K873
Hand J: has two key cards and the range for 4 Swiss, but with a void it should splinter (we can show a void with our Ambiguous Splinters).
Hand K: is the strength for Swiss with two key cards. It appears to have no feature, but the 5 th trump is a good as the trump queen and this hand should bid 4.
Hand L: is similar to Hand E and bids 4. But it has two features and if asked should show the singleton in preference to the trump queen.
Hand M: has only 3 trumps and should bid 2, 2/1, and subsequently support 's.
Hand N: is far too weak for a constructive bid and should bid 4 directly.
  There is an excellent example of things going wrong (getting way too high) when Jacoby 2NT is used with just a twelve count in news-sheet 214.  
  Finally, we really should say something about the use of the Delayed Game Raise in the modern era.  
Hand P   Partner opens 1. In the last century Hand P would show a sound raise by first bidding 2 and subsequenly raising to 4 to show a sound raise rather than a direct pre-emptive one. But these days we have better methods; I prefer a Swiss 4 but those not familiar with the advantages of playing Swiss in conjundtion with Jacoby 2NT would probably bid a Jacoby 2NT.
Hand Q   But now consider this Hand Q. You have game values and almost certainly want to play in 4 unless partner has serious extras. How do you bid this hand? The answer is that the Delayed Game Raise, these days, is used to show game values and good 3 card support. So bid 2 and then bid 4 after a minimal rebid.
  Pattaya Bridge Club - www.pattayabridge.com
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