~Balancing Bids

A balancing situation occurs when an opponent’s opening bid is passed around to you or when the opponents have found a fit at a low level and you wish to compete.
Opp1          Partner          Opp2          You
1S               P                   P                 ?      or

                                        1C              P
2C               P                   P                 ?

There are four ways to balance (reopen the bidding):
~Bid 1NT
~Cue Bid
Balancing with an overcall          1D-P-P-1H     
~Partner may have passed with a good hand, but could not bid because of strength in the opener’s suit. You can overcall with a weak hand (as few as 10 points) by “borrowing” a K from partner’s hand. Based on the bidding, Opp2 should have a very weak hand. You can also balance with a jump overcall (1H-P-P-2S). The bid is not preemptive. It shows a good six card or longer suit and near opening strength.
Balancing with a double            1D-P-P-Dbl
~In the “pass out seat,” you can double with less than an opening hand (“borrowing” from partner) in order to protect partner. Bid with as little as 10 points. There are no rigid distributional requirements.
Balancing with 1NT               1D-P-P-1NT
~This bid shows about 11-14 HCP, no long suit, and does not guarantee a stopper. In the pass out seat and holding 15-17 HCP, bid a suit first and then bid 1NT.
Balancing with a cue bid          1H-P-P-2H
~The cue bid in this situation can be used in either of two ways: as a very strong hand or as a Michaels bid. You may also show a strong hand by first doubling and then bidding a new suit or NT. You and partner should agree on what the cue bid means when balancing to preclude misunderstandings.

Summary: when LHO opens  the bidding at the one-level in first seat and two passes follow, two things are unlikely–that RHO hold 6+ points or that the opponents have a game available. Your partnership may have the balance of power; if not, you do not want the opponents playing in a one-level contract. You usually want to reopen the bidding and should bid with as few as three points lower than you would have bid in the direct seat.

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