Insufficient Bid


I’m not sure that I fully understand the new rules on insufficient bids. A recent example from our club: W-1NT; N-2♠; E-2. East hadn’t noticed the 2♠ bid and intended his bid as a transfer to hearts. In the event, East replaced his insufficent bid with a ‘pass’ and North played in 2♠. What are the correct options for E/W?

Graham Shaw – Llandudno

5 Replies to “Insufficient Bid”

  1. Firstly the Director should determine why partner has bid 1♣ – did he intend to bid 2♣ and inadvertantly removed the wrong bidding card. This can readily be determined if he has say 5-10 points. If so he can replace the 1♣ with 2♣, with no further rectification.
    More likely he hadn’t seen the 1♣ opening bid and was attempting to open himself.
    If so, the left-hand opponent of the second 1♣ bidder can accept the bid, and the auction proceeds normally. If not accepted….
    a) If systemically 1♣ is a genuine club suit, yes, he can replace 1♣ with 2♣ (Law 27B1a), but would he want to do this? The original opener can pass this ‘limit bid’ (he could legitimately make use of the UI – i.e. partner has 12+ points, but he may fall foul of Law 27D – assistance gained from the infraction damaging opponents).
    He could also possibly replace with a 3♣ bid with say 11 or 12 points. This would be deemed to be a comparable call, with no restrictions on the opening bidder. However with say 13+ points 3♣ is still comparable (sub-set of 1♣) but again does he want to make the bid? – partner may pass. Any other call will silence partner.
    b) If the original 1♣ is not natural (strong or short), then 27B1a would not be applicable – no denomination has been specified by the insufficient 1♣ bid, and probably there is no available comparable call, so the original opener will have to pass any replacement call made (note – when applying 27B1a, it refers to the denomination specified rather than the denomination called).

  2. Graham

    The first thing to consider is did East intend to bid 2 – was his brain telling his fingers to remove the 2 bid from the box. In this particular case the answer is probably that he did intend to bid 2 – not noticing the interference is no excuse. So Law 25A would not apply (his action is due to a loss of concentration).

    The next option is to allow South to accept the (intended) bid, and if he does the auction proceeds naturally. If he doesn’t, the Director must now use Law 27 (insufficient intended bid), and the new Laws are more forgiving in this situation .

    Law 27B1a allows East to replace the 2 insufficient bid with the lowest sufficient bid in the same denomination. By ‘same denomination’ the Law means the intended denomination (hearts). So he could bid 3 (assuming this would be natural – probably so) with no penalty on partner – West.
    He could also use Law 27B1b which refers to Law 23 – the new comparable call Law. This allows the substitution of any bid of the same or similar meaning, same purpose, or a subset of the withdrawn call (I’ve somewhat simplified this difficult area – but see Law 23). I can only think of two possibilities which meet these requirements – 4 (similar meaning), or if E/W play Lebensohl – 2NT, requesting partner to bid 3♣ which could then be corrected to 3. This could be deemed to have the same purpose (i.e. to show a hand with hearts), so possibly would be allowed. (Note that under the old Laws a Lebensohl type bid would not have been permitted, since there was no concept of ‘same purpose’). However there is controversy regarding these ‘two-stage’ comparable calls, and we may find that when a commentary is produced (by the EBU), it may be advised that they are non-comparable. The Director should not specifically state these options, but should ask East something like ‘do you have an alternative bid which shows hearts?’ – East has to work-out his own solution.
    One of the intentions of the new Laws is to enable the auction to give a more genuine bridge result, and the inclusion of ‘same purpose’ goes a long way to achieving this.

    If he doesn’t choose any of the above options, partner (West) must pass whenever his turn to call. So in your case, East substituted a ‘pass’, which silenced partner for the remainder of the auction


    1. I do not belive that a Lebensohl 2NT can ever be a comparable call because of the “two stage”correction. 2NT is not a transfer to Hearts and so it does not have the same purpose and neither is it a subset. Not all the hands that would bid 2NT would have made a 2 transfer bid. As you say in your revised answer the question is “Do you have a bid…?” not “Do you have a series of bids…?”
      Sarah Amos

      1. Yes, there is controversy amongst seemingly experienced directors about the two-stage process invoked by lebensohl. Definitive clarification is required either by regulating authorities or the WBF.

        All the more reason to play Rubinsohl after 2-level interference over partner’s 1NT opening. Here, responder would bid 3 as a transfer to 3 – one-stage, shows hearts. Clearly allowable in my view.

        Incidentally, Rubinsohl (all bids from 2NT up are transfers showing the next highest suit) is much more informative for opener if the opponents are likely to further the interference.

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