The Rueful Rabbit — Down the rabbit hole…

Trial Bids

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Dear Bridge Players,

Its time for a little theory so today I’ll rabbiting on about Trial Bids…

Most people know what trial bids are but when I consulted my bridge library and did a web search, none of the sources explained what range of suit holdings are good to initiate a trial bid or what you should accept the try and bid game.

Most examples only give idealised LST hands like Kxx opposite AQx. However if you restricted LST to this holding you would rarely use them. My objective is to help partnerships make a decision on what holdings to make these bids.

A trial bid is a game invitational sequence (usually in a major) where your partner has limited their hand. It shows a specific range of holdings in that trial suit and asks partner to bid game if they are –

A) Maximum for their bidding
B) Hold complementary cards in last suit bid.

There are two types of trial bids –

1) Long Suit Trials (LST) – Where you have 3 or 4 cards in a suit and you are asking partner to accept if that have high cards in that suit to complement you mediocre holding.
2) Short Suit Trials (SST) – Where have 1 or 2 cards in a suit and you are asking partner to accept if that have few wasted values in that suit to complement you poor holding. The theory being that if partner’s limited points are not there, they are helping your holdings in other suits.

Holding Initiate a LST? (Y/N) Should you Accept LST?
xxx(x) N N
Txx(x) N N
Jxx(x) N N
Qxx(x) Y N
Kxx(x) Y Borderline case
Axx(x) Y Borderline case
JTx(x) Borderline case Borderline case
QTx(x) Y Borderline case
KTx(x) Y Y
ATx(x) Y Y
QJx(x) Y Borderline case
KJx(x) N Y
AJx(x) N Y
KQx(x) N Y
AQx(x) N Y

You should also accept a LST with a doubleton with 2 of the top 4 honours.

Where I say a holding is a borderline case, then it up to you and your partner to decide whether it is OK to include or not. To make trial bids more useful, I’ve included more holding than might be used normally. The reason is that you rarely need 3 losers compressed to no losers. In the play of most hands, reduction to 1.5 losers (out of 3) is enough for practical purposes.

SST’s are easy, initiate a SST with a doubleton of singleton (non honours).
Accept if you are maximum or hold no values in that suit.

Soon, I’ll provide some detail on how to combing LST’s and SST’s into you bidding and the situations you can use it.

Have a good game,

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