by Bob Denby
are a form of major-suit raise designed to distinguish between a 5-3 and a 5-4 trump fit when playing 5-card majors. After a 1/
opening, currently responses between 2NT to 4
show different types of 4+ card support.
Developed by Marty Bergen and published in 1982, Bergen Raises are based on the Law of Total Tricks
, a method of hand evaluation which essentially says the combined number of trumps dictates the level one should at least compete to regardless of the combined high card strength.
Note in the original treatment bidding the other major at the 3-level is an Ambiguous Splinter which enabled the showing of a splinter suit whilst not distinguishing whether it was a singleton or a void. The new treatment that follows is one that has now resolved that problem.
The treatment introduces Bravos
howing) and Modified 3,
- 2NT showing a balanced 16+ HCP hand with slam interest
- 3 as a 3-way bid enabling a void to be shown in either of the 12-15 or 16+ HCP ranges
- 3 as a 2-way bid to handle 11ish HCP with 3 controls and a void/singleton shortage
- Ambiguous Splinters
- Keycard Swiss
Responses to 1
||Jacoby 2NT (16+ HCP, balanced).
||3-way relay showing one of the following 4+ card raises:
Opener relays to 3, after which responder can rebid:
- 6-10 points
- 12-15 points & void
- 16+ points & void
- 3 = 6-10 points
- 3 = 12-15 points & void. Opener can bid 3NT to ask for responder to bid the void suit at the 4-level.
- 4 = 16+ points & club void
- 4 = 16+ points & diamond void
- 4 = 16+ points & spade void
||2-way relay showing one of the following 4+ card raises:
Opener can sign off in 3, or bid 3 as an artificial inquiry asking if partner has 3 controls and a void or singleton. To the latter, responder can rebid:
- About 11 points with a singleton/void, but too light for Ambiguous Splinters
- About 11 points balanced, but too light for Key Card Swiss
- 3NT = No singleton or void
- 4 = Club singleton/void
- 4 = Diamond singleton/void
- 4 = Spade singleton/void
||4-card pre-emptive raise (0-6 points).
||3-card raise, balanced, non-forcing.
||Key Card Swiss
||Key Card Swiss
||Weak pre-emptive raise.
||Roman Keycard Blackwood
Responses to 1
The 3-Way Raise
is a 3-way response and shows a sound two level raise or a hand with a void and either 11-15 or 16+ HCP and at least 4 controls, where an Ace = 2 and a King = 1.
|Both vul.|| ||North|| |
In example above, North opens 1
South responds by jumping to 3.
Opener relays (puppets) with 3
and partner then bids 3
showing a void in the 11-15 HCP range.
Opener enquires with 3NT, to which South replies 4.
Knowing that with an effectively 30 HCP deck partner besides both major suit aces has at least 4 points including at least one black suit queen in which case, bids 7
knowing the grand slam in hearts must be on.
The 2-Way Raise
is a 2-way response and shows a sound raise to 3 of partner’s major or a hand with 10-11 HCP containing 3 controls and either a void or singleton.
A typical hand suitable for a modified 3
is West’s hand below from the 2017 Yeh Bros event.
|N-S vul.|| ||North|| |
West, who responded 3
with his 11 count to East’s 1
opener, now finds that partner must have a strong control rich hand, when he bids the other major asking specifically if West has a hand with 3 controls plus a singleton or void.
A 3NT response means "No", whilst with suitable shortage responses of 4, 4, 4
if hearts are trumps) are those suits respectively. If opener is not strong he will bid 3 or 4 of his suit accordingly. If he bids 3, responder can then judge whether to bid game or not.
In the example West would bid 4
to partner’s ask, who in turn will bid the decent small slam.
Playing Ambiguous Splinters (preferably with at least 4 controls otherwise 3 and at least 13 HCPs, singletons only, as voids shown via the 3
3-Way bid) has a big advantage over simple splinters if opener has no slam interest as the defender’s are left in the dark about dummy’s shortage.
Therefore after 1-3
3NT asks for the singleton. Responder's rebids are:
- 4 = Club singleton
- 4 = Diamond singleton
- 4 = Spade singleton if hearts are trumps, or vice-versa
Opener may then sign off, cue bid, or use Roman Key Card Blackwood with the agreed suit. Generally one would not splinter with singleton aces.
|Both vul.|| ||North|| |
With the example hand above, North opens 1
and South jumps to 3
announcing a good hand in the 12-15 HCP range plus a singleton. North enquires with 3NT and in hearing the 4
reply bids the small slam in spades.
Now, suppose the dealer was either East or South. How would your partnership bid the slam when South opens 1?
Note Ambiguous Splinters can be used after Stayman and a Jacoby red suit transfer.
Keycard Swiss - 4/ bids
Ordinarily these bids are rarely used and can be put to much better use as Keycard Swiss. So with 12-15 HCPs “balanced” including those with a singleton ace, 4
shows 2 key cards and a feature (third key card, the queen of trumps, or 5+ trumps), whilst 4
lacks the requirements for 4
is actually the same as in standard Bergen, but more specific).
System On or Off
Most partnerships employing Bergen Raises would agree that Bergen Raises is ON, if the overcall does NOT interfere with a constructive continuation of Bergen Raises. Otherwise system is OFF.
Bravos and Modified 3
treatments have been developed by Bob Denby of the U.K.
Recognition is also given to the late Terry Quested for his contribution to Bergen Raises. Excellent descriptions and examples of Jacoby 2NT based on 16+ HCP, Keycard Swiss, and Ambiguous Splinters can be found at his site, www.pattayabridge.com