Glasnevin Bridge Club

Balancing aka Protective Bidding.
When they have opened at the 1 level and there are two passes around to you, you are in the “Balancing or Protective Position”. Opener’s partner is marked with 5- points. Your partner might have as much as 15 but can’t bid because he is balanced or holds “their” suit. You must protect him against this possibility and this is called balancing. It is of fundamental importance in any disciplined bidding system where partner doesn’t have the luxury of doubling just because he has opening points!

Theory of the Deferred King

When balancing, you borrow 3 points from partner. So you can now overcall at the 1 level on 5-6 points + or at the 2 level with 9+. You can also double on 9+ but the shape requirements remain the same. Partner must, of course, be mindful of the fact that you have borrowed the 3 points and respond appropriately. This is absolutely critical.

Other Bids in the Balancing Position

  • 1NT shows 11-14, balanced shape and their suit stopped. The system is on.
  • 2NT shows 19+, balanced shape and their suit stopped. In the balancing position, 2NT is not “unusual” but is a natural bid so the system is on.
  • Holding a balanced 15-18 count and a stopper, first double and then rebid NT. System is on.
  • A jump overcall in the balancing position is strong (even though we normally play Weak Jump Overcalls) showing an excellent 6+ card suit and at worst 6 losers.
Balancing at Higher Levels
After a feeble suit agreement e.g. 1H-pass-2H-pass-pass it is correct to balance even though you are a passed hand and the overcall will have to be at the 2 level, because both your opponents are weak and have limited their hands and they have found a fit. You can safely double or overcall at the 2 (not 3) level, using the theory of the deferred king but you and partner should generally leave it at that. Partner must recognize that you are balancing (why else would you fail to overcall on the first round and then do so in the second?) and not get carried away. What happens next is up to them. They may leave you in your 2 level part-score which will usually be fine or they may bid on and go too high which is even better!

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