Up until now, on all the examples of hands that I have shown you, the North-South partnership has had all the points and done all the bidding. In real life, things will be much more mixed than that most of the time. But in ACOL, there is a different set of bidding rules when you are the first of the opposition players to bid. You are called the OVERCALL bidder and your partner is the REPLY TO OVERCALL bidder.

I have prepared a list of overcall bids and their expected replies.

Partly the reason for the difference in bidding rules, is the fact that it is already known that one player has at least 12 points. This makes it much less likely that the other partnership will have sufficient points between them for a game bid, but it also means that if there is potential for a part game, that it should not be ignored if there is some way of communicating it.

Over a 1 bid in a suit by the opening bidder, the overcall bidder is allowed to bid on the 1 level with as few as 8 or 9 points, as long as s/he has a very good quality suit. This means it must have at least 5 cards in it, with at least 2 honours. The disadvantage of this, is that your partner doesn't really know how strong your hand is. It might only have 9 points, but on the other hand, it might have 16 or more.

However, if the person in the overcalling position has a No Trump hand, the requirements are actually greater for bidding it, rather than less. The opening bidder's 1 No Trump promises 12-14 points, and a reasonable amount of coverage in most of the suits. An overcall of 1 No Trump promises at least 15-17 points, and all the suits stopped, especially the one that has been bid by the opposition.

The third possibility for the Overcall Bidder, is to bid a TAKEOUT DOUBLE although when you are bidding it, you just say DOUBLE. This is one of the few artificial bids in ACOL. What you are telling your partner, is not that you are strong in the suit bid by the opposition, as you might think from a Double bid, but just the opposite. You are strong in everything except the opposition's bid, have at least 13 points, and want your partner to bid his/her best suit to take you out of the double. That is why it is called a Takeout Double, because you do not want to be left in it.

23. With the hand below, which of these options makes the best bid for the overcall bidder?

Opening bid - 1 Club

Spades            A,K,Q,10,7
Hearts             K,J,6,5
Clubs              4,3
Diamonds        J,9

a. Double
b. 1 Spade
c. 1 No Trump