Help Suit Game Tries: Answers

Reference:  25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know, Barbara Seagram and Marc Smith, Chapter 13.

This lesson is focused on auctions with a simple bid and raise of a major suit, either from responder raising opener’s major suit opening, or opener raising responder’s major suit response.  Examples:  1H-2H and 1C-1H-2H.

When you first learned bridge, you were taught that it takes 26 points to bid a game.  After that you learned that when you find a fit you can count your distribution points to get to that number.

After a while when you were playing you noticed two things:

  1. You would stay out of game because you “didn’t have enough points” while your good opponents were bidding and making games on 20 or 21 points.
  2. You were bidding your games with the right number of points but going down when the opponents cashed the first four tricks.

So how come some 20 point games make and some 28 point games go down?  It’s not  always how many points you have, it’s where those points are.


North Hand:  S: Jxx H: AQJxx D: AQxx C: x

South Hand 1:  S: xxx H: Kxxx D: Kxx C: QJx

South Hand 2:  S: KQx  H: Kxxx D: xx  C: xx

South Hand 3:  S: x  H: Kxxx  D: Kxxx C: xxxx

Opposite South Hand 1 there’s no good chance to make 4S.  You’re off 3S tricks and the Club Ace.  Opposite South Hand 2, which has one fewer HCP you have a 50% chance for game if the Diamond King is onside.  Opposite South Hand 3, which has the least HCP of all, you have a good chance to make 5 and you are almost certain to make 4.

What are the differences among South hands 1, 2, and 3 as they fit with the North hand?

South Hand 1 has no shape and has the “death” holding of 3 small opposite North’s weak suit.

South Hand 2 has slightly better shape and fitting honors opposite North’s isolated Jack.

South Hand 3 has shortness matching a weak suit in North and a weak suit matching shortness in North.

South Hands 2 and 3 are “helpful” to North, South Hand 1 isn’t.


game try is an invitational bid proposing game but allowing the partnership to stop short of game.

help suit game try asks about the holding in a specific suit, with the objective being to make sure there aren’t three losers in that suit .

Examples of “help”:

  • Shortness (singletons, doubletons, and voids) and sufficient trumps.
  • Fitting honors.

If you have “help”:  Bid game directly.

If you don’t have “help”:  Bid 3 of the agreed suit.


Other Implications

Auctions like 1H-2H-3H can be used in two ways, depending on partnership agreement:

  • “1-2-3 Stop”:  Keeping opponents out of the auction.
  • “Do you have help in trumps?”

The other new sequence you can use is 1H-2H-2NT to invite on basic strength, suggesting 3NT as a possible alternative to a 5-3 fit.



Copyright Peter Haglich, 2014