BALANCING BIDS

(in the Pass Out Seat)

By Yvonne Cains

When your opponents open the bidding followed by 2 passes, the player in 4 th seat is said to be in the balancing seat or Pass Out Seat. e.g.
1H – P – P – you are now in the balancing seat.
When you consider whether to balance you are not only bidding your own hand but protecting partner. Why does partner need protecting? This situation happens frequently – partner may have an opening hand but does not have the right shape to double or overcall.
Consider the following: West opens 1H – partner holds;

98
AK35
AJ6
J965

Partner is not strong enough to bid 1NT, has no 5 card suit to overcall and has the wrong shape to double (he has length in opponents suit and shortage in the other major).
Since partner cannot bid in the direct seat the 4 th seat (balancing seat) must take some action. How much less do you need to balance? In the balancing seat you must be more aggressive. A good guide is to add a K (or 3 points) to the value of your hand.

Balancing Bids:

i) X with 10+ HCP
ii) 1NT with 12-14 (adding 3 points to your hand)
iii) Simple overcall 8-11 with a 5 card suit
iv) Jump overcall shows 12-14HCP with a good 5 or 6 card suit (Note: this is not a weak bid)

NT bids in balancing position

1NT  12-14pts
X then bid NT at lowest level    15-17pts
X then bid 2NT    18-19:pts
2NT   2 0-21:pts
E.g. 1D - P - P - 2NT (NOT for minors – same as opening 2NT)
.
Note: Make a judgement - with a poor 13 just bid 1NT - with a good 13 bid 2NT

Some examples of bids in 4th seat

Exanple You  Hold You Bid
1D - P -  P - ??  864
A7
KJ96
A1086

Bid 1NT Add King to your hand
K42
K8652
8
9852
You would not bid 1NT in West’s position You would not overcall 1H in the direct position (West) because your suit is poor and you have a weak hand but be aggressive in 4 th seat (adding 3 points) and bid 1H
10873
AJ83
82
KQ8
X is East’s bid – mentally give yourself a K in spades or hearts and you have a normal takeout
KQ8
A8
A1084
K1073
X  East has 16 HCP. You cannot bid 1NT – your normal bid in direct seat as it is 12-14 HCP in balancing seat. So X first then bid 1NT.

Another Balancing Situation

If the opponents stop at a low level having found a fit.
Feel free to make a takeout double (with right distribution) or an overcall even with fewer values than you would normally need for this action. e.g
1H - P - 2H - P - P - X (your double here shows a shortage in hearts).
Remember: if opponents have a fit, you and your partner usually have a fit as well.

Responding to balance bids

As partner has mentally added 3 points to his hand you must deduct 3 points from yours. When deciding how high to bid facing a balancing bid by partner take this into account.
No trump bids illustrate this point. These are the normal point ranges for NT ranges in response to a direct takeout double.
E.g. 1H – x – Pass - 1NT (8-10)
                             2NT (11-12)
                             3NT (13+)
But if partner balances with a double you must subtract a king (or 3 points more)
Example You Hold You Bid
1H - P - P - X - P - ??? J3
82
K862
AQ973
If partner had doubled in the direct position you would have jumped to 3 but opposite a balancing x you need a better hand to jump (deduct 3 points)
K83
Q1073
Q865
J5
If partner had made a direct takeout x you would bid 1NT. After the balancing x this would be a significant overbid as 1NT is 12-13, 2NT is 13- 14. Note: 13 can go either w ay depending on fillers. Bid 1 H on this hand!