You are south and you hold:                              

 Kxx      xx         AQxx    xxxx

 

The bidding proceeds:
West     North    East      South
1H         1S           Pass     2S

As beginners, we are taught to raise partner’s overcall one level with 8-11 pts and to jump raise with 12-14 pts. including distribution. 
Now that you are all grown up, we strongly recommend a change in strategy.

Let’s look at what happens when you bid this the old-fashioned way: 
 
West holds:   S AKxxx                 East         S QJxx
                        H xxx                                        H xxx
                        D xxx                                        D AKQ
                        C xx                                          C xx

South    West     North    East
1C          1S          P          3S
P             P           P

The opponents quickly take the first 5 tricks. Down one. East had a limit raise and jumped. West had a dog’s breakfast and the bidding simply got too high.

Now have a look at the recommended alternative: East, holding a limit raise or better, should cue-bid the suit the opponents have bid. This will show 10 or more points and support for partner’s suit.
With the above hand, here is how the bidding would go:

South    West     North    East
1C          1S          P          2C
P            2S*
* shows a minimum hand. East will pass at his next opportunity and the bidding will stay happily at the 2 level.             

From now on, with 6-9 points, raise partner’s overcall one level only. With 10 OR MORE points (called heretofore a limit raise) cue bid the opponents’ suit if you have adequate trump support i.e. at least xxx. From now on, this will show a limit raise or better. i.e. With the hand above, you will bid 2C. This way, if your partner (who overcalled 1 S) has a lousy hand, he may now bid simply 2S and you will pass. In the past, if you had responded 3S with 12-14 pts, you may have found yourselves too high if the overcaller only had 8 points.

With junk (very weak hand) and favourable or equal vulnerability, you have one extra bid at your disposal now...jump raise your partner’s overcall to the 3 level. This is strictly pre-emptive showing a crummy hand and 4 card or longer support. Approximately 2-6 points (including distribution)  with FOUR of partner’s suit.

West     North    East      South
1C          1H         Pass      3H

Your hand south might look something like:
xx
Axxx
xxxxx
xx


RESPONDING TO PARTNER’S OPENING BID WHEN RHO HAS OVERCALLED

A similar concept applies in the following situation:

South holds:    KQxx               xx                    AKJ                 Jxxx

North opens bidding

North               East                 South              West
1 S                     2H                   3H      

If you had bid 3S, this would now be pre-emptive (see above response to partner’s overcall as it is similar in concept) so the only way for you to show alimit raise or better would be to cue bid the opponents’ suit.

If North has a minimum opening bid, he will now bid 3S and with the above hand, you will raise to 4S.

If however you had this hand: KQxx                   xx         AJx       xxxx

North                East                  South               West
1S                      2H                     3H      

If North now bids only 3S, you will pass as you had only a bare limit raise and your bid invited the opening bidder to bid game with extras. If opener has 15 or more points, he will accept your invitation (3H) and now bid 4S.

 

TRY IT!!! Don’t wait till you are ready to master this. Just do it! Get it wrong a few times. This is a game of mistakes, the more you make, the faster you’ll learn! GO GET ‘EM!!

Photo credit: Bidding Box from Wikipedia