By Barbara Seagram
Courtesy of BarbaraSeagram.com
For many years, the significance and the tremendous playing value of having 4-card support for partner’s suit, particularly his major suit, has been unrecognized. Experts have always been aware of the importance of this, but it was always “unwritten” until Marty Bergen and Larry Cohen popularized the “Law of Total Tricks” which was a big part of their system.
“Bergen raises” are a part of a modern bidding style, which now allows us to show immediately 4-card support for partner’s major suit when we have 6-9 points. It is a fact that putting two hands together with a nine-card fit will ultimately play better and take more tricks than the same hand with only an eight-card fit. Check out the following very similar hands:
You find yourself in the fine contract of 4H . All would be well against friendly opponents, but the opponents decide to lead a trump. You win the lead and must now create a void in the dummy in spades so that you can trump a spade from declarer’s hand in the dummy. As soon as you concede a spade , the rotten opponents lead another hear. You win it and concede another spade. Back comes yet another heart and now you are toast! You now lose three spades and a club, down one, due to good defense.
Let’s look at a contrasting hand:
Now, no matter what happens and how good these defenders are, you can always trump a spade in the dummy. THE VALUE OF 4 CARD SUPPORT CAN NEVER BE OVERSTATED!
How to show 4-CARD SUPPORT with 6-9 points (including Distribution)
1♥ – 3♣
1♠ – 3♣
How to show 4-CARD SUPPORT with 10-12 points (including Distribution)
1♥ – 3♦
1♠ – 3♦
It must follow that you would no longer need bids such as 1♠ – 3♠ or 1♥ – 3♥ …therefore in order to give these bids some useful meaning, they now become preemptive and show 2-5 pts (incl. dist) and 4-card support. For example,
♠ 5 ♥ Q532 ♦ 87632 ♣ 854
If partner opens 1♥, bid 3♥ with this hand. Try it, you’ll like it.
These are called BERGEN RAISES after Marty Bergen.