Why Overcall?

(1) You and partner may have a contract: part score or game.

(2) Push your opponents higher, and they might then go down.

(3) Tell partner what she can safely lead.

(4) Give information to partner for potential sacrifice (not-vul vs vul).

Level Minimum Suit Points Other information
to take into account
1 Kxxxx
xxxxxx (spades only)
8-16 Vulnerability can be ignored at 1-level as a penalty double of a one bid is rare, especially with opps playing negative doubles
2 (vul)
KJxxx or QJ8xx

K10xxx  (not vul)
(8+ when balancing)
Vul overcall at 2-level promises, either a good 5+ card suit, or compensating hcp. (The more points you have the weaker can be your suit, and vice versa.)
3 Kxxxx
12+ vul
11+ not vul
Observe caution at 3-level!

With 14+ points and able to support two unbid suits, prefer to double for takeout.

With 17+ points unbalanced, first double for takeout, then bid a suit, rather than overcalling.

Responding to Partner's Overcall

1) Raise to 2-level with 3+ card support and 6-9 points.

2) Raise to 3-level with 3+ card support and 10-13 points.

3) Cue bid opponent's suit with support and 14+ (power raise) (this is the only forcing bid).

4) Raise major to game, with support and 16+ (alternatively, with 5+ support and a weak hand).

5) Jumps in a new suit are invitational.

6) New minor suit usually denies support for overcaller and is not forcing.

7) New major suit does not deny support for overcaller's minor, and is constructive but not forcing. (Remember: Advancer's only way to force overcaller to bid again is via a cue bid of opp's suit.)

Pre-emptive Overcalls

Jump overcalls are weak, same requirements as for a weak two-bid.

Unusual 2NT overcalls show 5-5 for the lower two unbid suits.

Michaels Cue bid overcalls show 5-5 for the unbid major and a minor, or 5-5 in majors if overcalling a minor.

(Note: If an Unusual or Michaels overcaller corrects advancer's choice, this shows that overcaller's two suits were the two currently unbid suits, and advancer, with this new information, may re-correct on her rebid if necessary. Click here to see an example)