Join Bridge Winners
Mixed Raises Part 2

The first part of this article talked about the use of mixed raises when your side opens 1 or 1. This article will introduce the use of mixed raises when your side opens 1 or 1 and continues with mixed raises of partner's major when he overcalls.

Minor Suits
Mixed raises are not solely gadgets for major-suit openings. Before inverted minors became common, the raise to 2m over partner's opening showed something close to the strength of a mixed raise. When the modern limit-plus definition replaced this, 3m became pre-emptive and the middle range was lost. Although this inverted structure is superior to the original one, the preemptive raise is its weak point.  We believe a mixed raise is superior to the pre-emptive raise in most situations.

Why?  In a constructive auction, the gains from pre-emptively raising partner's opening to 3m are substantially smaller on the weaker hands. If partner has the big balanced hand he will bid 3NT and be stuck with a bad dummy. If partner is weaker, the opponents will have the balance of power. Since you have a fit in a minor, they rate to have a fit in one of the majors. Bidding 3m on a purely preemptive hand may push the opponents into a making game that they would otherwise miss.

The mixed raise also has benefits in competitive auctions. You still help partner with the decision to bid 3NT when he has the big balanced hand, but the mixed raise also puts some real pressure on advancer.  If advancer acts, opener is well-placed to take the right action, but advancer's passing could lead to a big swing when opener has a balanced minimum.  True, in a competitive auction, there is less need for 3m to be a mixed raise because 2m is no longer inverted (as a cue-bid is available), and opener is less likely to have the big hand.  But we still prefer the ability to show a mixed raise immediately, especially when vulnerable.  (We prefer wide-ranging raises in competition when not vulnerable, but for simplicity, you can still play mixed raises throughout.)

To summarize, think of the mixed raise primarily as a tool for increasing offensive bidding accuracy.  Your goal is to match the most likely strong hand (balanced 18-19) to a dummy that will produce a reasonable 3NT. The preemptive quality opposite other hands is an added bonus, but it is not the main objective as it would be in a traditional inverted minor structure.

What would you bid with these hands, neither vulnerable, after partner opens 1 or 1?

1) 1; Qxx xx Kxx QTxxx
2) 1; xxx QJx QJTxx Qx
3) 1; QTx ATx Qx J9xxx
4) 1; Axx x AJ9xx T9xx
5) 1; x Qxx xxx !KTxxxx

1) 3. A classic hand for this bid.
2) 3. Not ideal, but still within the range.
3) 1NT. 3 is reasonable with this hand, but the slow cards (and positional values) make 1N more attractive.
4) 2. With a singleton and prime cards, this hand is too strong for 3.  
5) 3. A perfect minimum based on playing strength.

They Open (Partner overcalls 1M)

In general, as the opponents’ high-card holdings increase, so does the number of available bids that you can designate as raises. When you are at best even with the opponents in high cards, the only hope for a game is through finding a fit. Being able to judge the level in a competitive auction is especially important (and difficult) when you are fourth to speak. In this auction:

The opponents have had the first opportunity to describe both of their hands. It’s possible that you and your partner have the balance of power, but if so, it’s only by a small margin.

In the above auction, 3 (a jump in opener's suit to the 3-level) is perfect for a mixed raise. It takes away some room from the opponents and gives your partner a picture of your strength and level of fit.

A mixed raise of 3 would still be useful on this auction even if your RHO had passed. You put pressure on LHO when he has a good hand and more importantly give partner the information he needs to accurately bid games.

They Bid Michaels
You can even make a space for a mixed raise if you play transfers when the opponents make a Michaels cue-bid of partner's major suit opening. Using this structure:
2NT: Clubs
3: Diamonds
3: Mixed raise
Cue-bid: Limit raise
3M: Competitive raise (usually 3 trumps)
3N: 4M bid with some defense

The 3 mixed raise takes pressure off of opener, who would otherwise be facing a wide range of hands that would raise to 3M.

We believe the mixed raise to be one of the most valuable expert bidding tools for the modern game, and have described how you can add mixed raises to your arsenal in most situations. Try adding mixed raises to your game, and watch your partners bid better and your opponents face more problems!
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