D.O.N.T. - DONT

This is a convention method used in bridge bidding and which was devised by Mr. Marty Bergen and published by Mr. Larry Cohen. The DONT convention was first published in an issue of Bridge Today in Marty Bergen's column in the September / October 1989.

This convention is sometimes referred to as Bergen Over No Trump, but has been accepted into the language of the bridge community as simply D.O.N.T. or DONT, an acronym for Disturbing Opponent's No Trump.

It is important to realize that all subsequent bids by the partnership disturbing / overcalling / intervening with a 1 No Trump, and in some cases a 2 No Trump opening by the opponents, are alertable. It is also important to remember to use D.O.N.T. only against a strong No Trump opening, which is defined as showing at least 14 high card points or more.

Any No Trump bids which show 13 high card points or less are to be considered Weak No Trump openings. The reason behind this feature of the convention is the fact that the D.O.N.T. convention does not incorporate the penalty double. If the opponents open a Weak No Trump, then the partnership should have the penalty double as a useful instrument. See: Bergen Over Weak No Trump.

The conventional method of D.O.N.T. can be employed either as a direct overcall or in the balancing seat after two consecutive passes.

The concept behind the convention is simple and quite easy to learn. The main feature of the holding is the shape, not high card points. It is the distribution of the hand which allows one partner to begin disturbing the No Trump opening of the opponents. Following is a list of calls over a No Trump opening of an opponent and the meaning of each call.

Opponent

Overcaller

Meaning

1 NT

Double

Shows a one-suited hand with at least a 6-card suit or longer.

 

2

Shows Clubs and an unknown higher-ranking suit.

 

2

Shows Diamonds and an unknown higher-ranking suit.

 

2

Shows both Major suits, neither suit preferable.

 

2

A natural bid showing at least a 6-card Spade suit or longer.
    A 2 Spades overcall shows a weaker holding than a Double and 2 Spades rebid.

When a partnership employs the D.O.N.T. convention, the other partner hopes for a 5-5 distribution, which should be the case if the partnership is vulnerable. If the partnership has a favorable vulnerability, then a 5-4 distribution is also acceptable. Also, if the partnership is vulnerable, then the honor cards should be located mainly in the distributional suits, and the point count should be relatively stronger when compared to favorable vulnerability.

It is also better if the partnership can reach a contract and the No Trump bidder is the right hand opponent of the declarer. The partner of the No Trump bidder then has to lead through the No Trump holding, giving the declarer an added advantage.

There are several partnership agreements regarding the double and a suit rebid. Some partnerships will double and rebid a suit on the holding:

Opponent

Overcaller

Meaning

1 NT

Double

shows a one-suited hand with a 6-card suit or longer

 

2

shows a 6-card Spade suit or longer, range unknown

 

QJ10864
K2
8743
5
 

Other partnerships have agreed on the following:

Opponent

Overcaller Meaning

1 NT

Double shows a one-suited hand with a 6-card suit or longer

 

2 shows a 6-card Spade suit or longer, maximum Weak Two Bid or better
 
KJ10764
94
K3
KQ2
 

However, most all partnership agreements have the following understanding with the following holding:

Opponent

Overcaller

Meaning

1 NT

Double

shows a one-suited hand with a 6-card suit or longer

 

3

shows a 6-card Spade suit or longer, Opening or better, but non-forcing

 

AQJ10853
9
K3
KQ5
 

And most all partnerships have the following understanding with the following holding:

Opponent

Overcaller

Meaning

1 NT

3

shows a normal preemptive bid

 

AJ108764
6
J1094
7
 

However, it must be noticed that some partnerships would first double and then rebid the Spade suit, especially if they were vulnerable. However, a double would allow the opponents to continue their bidding auction almost without any interruption because the double has not taken up any bidding space. In the above example, the most the No Trump bidder could have would be KQ95 in the Spade suit.

Once the partnership has established an understanding regarding the double, the partner of the Doubler has several options.

1. The partner will normally bid 2 Clubs, which is a Relay bid, the cheapest possible bid, asking the Doubler to name his suit.
2. In the case that the partner has an extremely good suit of his own, the partner will bid that suit, and it has to be a good 6-card suit.

1. The partner will normally bid 2 Clubs, which is a Relay bid, the cheapest possible bid, asking the Doubler to name his suit. For example:

Opponent

Overcaller

Opponent

Partner

  Meaning

1 NT

Double

Pass

2 / 2 / 2

  a good 6-card suit or better with outside values

 

 

 

KQ10974

   
3. In the case that the partner has a good hand, meaning 15 high card points or more and a balanced to semi-balanced holding, then the partner is allowed to pass, leaving the double as a penalty double. This situation may arise when the opponents are vulnerable, and the partner is able to discern the suit of his partner, the Doubler, early in the play and has the stopping power to continue leading up to his partner's suit. A knowledge of the method of scoring is all important. Since the partnership normally will not have game against a No Trump opening, down two vulnerable and doubled will show a good result.

 

In the following bidding sequence, the partner has several options open to him.

Opponent

Overcaller

Opponent

Partner

1 NT

2

Pass

1. If the partner has good Club support and few values, then he will pass.
2. The partner can make a Relay bid of 2 Diamonds, asking the overcaller for his second suit. If the second suit is Diamonds, the overcaller will pass. Game is most unlikely in a Minor suit.
3. The partner may have a good suit of his own, which he will then bid, showing no interest in the suit of his partner, the overcaller. The partner will simply bid 2 Hearts, 2 Spades, or 3 Diamonds, which are not Relay bids according to the partnership understanding.
4. The partner may raise the 2 Clubs overcall, but does not show any strength but is only continuing the disturbance to the opponents. This continuation of the disturbance of the bidding process may occur also even if the partner of the No Trump bidder decides to enter the auction with perhaps a 2 Diamond Jacoby Transfer bid to Hearts.
5. The partner may bid 2 No Trump, which is an attempt at game, and also forcing the overcaller to describe his hand further by naming his second suit on the Three Level. Although this bid of 2 No Trump is available, this situation will hardly ever present itself. The percentage that the partner of the No Trump bidder holds zero tricks is very small, and that is the reason why game is almost improbable.

The bidding sequences and the options of the partner of the overcaller are similar if the overcaller bids 2 Diamonds.

 

If the overcall is 2 Hearts, then the partner also has several options.

Opponent

Overcaller

Opponent

Partner

1 NT

2

Pass

 

1. The partner simply passes if he prefers Hearts over the second-known suit Spades.
2. The partner can bid 2 Spades if he prefers Spades over Hearts.
3. The partner can respond with 3 Clubs or 3 Diamonds if he has a good 6-card suit or better and believes his hand holds more promise of making the contract in a Minor suit than in either of the two Major suits. The overcaller is expected to pass.
4. The partner can respond by bidding 2 No Trump requesting a further description regarding the holding of his partner. The partner, again, should have a minimum of 15 high card points and a balanced to semi-balanced hand. This bid is game-invitational.
5. The partner can raise and bid either 3 Hearts or 3 Spades, but this is not forcing to game, but a continuation of the disturbance. This is generally the case if the Partner is especially weak and believes that the opponents may have game. This is the reason for the guideline stated below:

 

When the Partner raises a known suit, it is simply a weak raise and absolutely non-forcing.

If the holding indicates that game is a possibility, then the first bid by the partner must be a 2 No Trump response.

 

Judgment should be applied to every situation, as well as logic and common sense along with that undefined card sense. The following example should illustrate this point.

South

North
J72
A1093
AQ962
8
   
KQ9864
Q
85
QJ94
   

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

pass

2

pass

4

pass

pass

pass

 

 

 

South informed North that he holds a 2-suited hand, but North has a good long Spade suit. South uses his judgment and common sense, and bids game in Spades, knowing that they have 9 Spades between them. This is indeed a situation, which will not occur often, although East does indeed have one Spade stopper and a No Trump range, because a holding of A105 is not considered adequate.

 

In the case of the following bidding sequence:

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

Double

North can enter the auction by showing preference several ways.

1. If North passes, then North indicates that he would prefer to play in Clubs.
2. If North bids another suit, then North wants to play in the suit named.
3. If North redoubles, North is asking for the second suit of his partner, South.

 

In the following example, the options open to North, after his partner overcalls in one of the Minor suits, are changed if the partner of the 1 No Trump bidder enters the auction with a suit of his own.

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

2

After West has bid Spades, North is aware of the two suits in the hand of his partner, South, which are Diamonds and Hearts. If South had bid 2 Clubs, then his holding could be either Clubs and Diamonds or Clubs and Hearts. North, however, has several options open to him.

1. If North passes, then North is not interested in entering the auction.
2. If North bids another suit, then North wants to play in the suit named.
3. If North doubles, this indicates interest in entering the auction and wishes to know the second suit. This is a Takeout Double.

 

In the following example:

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

2 NT

If North doubles the 2 No Trump bid, this is a takeout double and South should bid his other suit. North has decided that entering the auction on the Three Level is acceptable. However, if East/West bid 3 No Trump in the above example, any double by North/South is then a Penalty Double.

 

If the overcall is 2 Hearts:

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

3 / 3

North knows both suits of his partner.

1. If North doubles, this is then a penalty double, not a takeout double.
2. North can enter the auction with 3 Hearts or 3 Spades.

 

In the following example:

East

South

West

North

1 NT

Double

Redouble

North realizes that 1 No Trump redoubled equals game. North has several options available.

1. If North passes, then this pass is a request that South name his 6-card or longer suit.
2. If North bids a suit, then North has a good 6-card or longer stand-alone suit.

 

In a situation where sufficient information can be exchanged to consider game after a 1 No Trump opening, the D.O.N.T. convention provides a method of exploring this possibility. Considered first is the 2 Clubs overcall.

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

pass

2 NT

pass

 

 

 

Any 2 No Trump bid by the partner of the overcaller is absolutely forcing, and requests further descriptive information. In the above example, South can further describe his hand.

1. A 3 Clubs bid by South shows minimum values with Clubs and a higher-ranking suit. If North bids 3 Diamonds, then North is asking for the second suit. If the second suit happens to be Diamonds, then South will pass because game in a Minor suit is very unlikely after a 1 No Trump opening. Otherwise, South will bid his second suit.
2. A 3 Diamonds rebid by South shows maximum values with Clubs and Diamonds and is game forcing.
3. A 3 Hearts rebid by South shows maximum values with Clubs and Hearts, and is game forcing.
4. A 3 Spades rebid by South shows maximum values with Clubs and Spades, and is game forcing.

 

The D.O.N.T. convention suggests that maximum values by favorable vulnerability should be a minimum of 11 high card points and a 5-5 distribution. By unfavorable vulnerability, the suggestion is to have a minimum of 13 high card points and a 5-5 distribution. Anything less should be considered minimum values by any vulnerability.

Considered second is the 2 Diamonds overcall.

East

South

West

North

1 NT

2

pass

2 NT

pass

 

 

 

South is forced to describe his holding further. South can do so with the following rebids:

1. A 3 Clubs rebid shows minimum values with Diamonds and Hearts.
2. A 3 Diamonds rebid shows minimum values with Diamonds and Spades.
3. A 3 Hearts rebid shows maximum values with Diamonds and Hearts.
4. A 3 Spades rebid shows maximum values with Diamonds and Spades.

The rebids of 3 Hearts and 3 Spades are absolutely game forcing. North may not discontinue the bidding until game has been reached.