Invitational

When we ask our primary question – Do we have a game? – and get a MAYBE answer, we’re in an invitational situation: we want to be in a partscore if partner has a minimum, but a game if she has a little extra. We need to make a bid that conveys this – and invitational bid.

Here’s the simplest example:

South
KJ8
Q7
QJ73
10853
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

Partner has 15-17 HCP, we have 9. Do we have a game? Maybe. If partner has 15 the partnership has only 24 and game will be poor. If partner has 16 or 17 we’ll have the 25 points needed for game. We want to make a bid that tells partner, “I want to be in a partscore if you have a minimum but a game if you have a maximum.” We need to invite. Since we both have balanced hands, the game we’re shooting for is 3NT. So we invite by raising to 2NT. Partner will know to pass with a minimum and bid 3NT with a maximum.

South
Q95
KJ4
AJ53
985
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

With a balanced hand notrump looks like our spot. With 11 HCP we want to invite: if partner has a minimum we want to play a partscore, but if she has a little extra we want to be in game. Our bid is 2NT. Simple.

We don’t have to make an invitational bid on our first call. As long as we make a forcing bid we can invite on the next round. For example:

South
QJ73
A6
Q943
Q95
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

Again we have 11 HCP, invitational values – opposite a minimum opening bid we want to be in a partscore, but if partner has a little extra we want to be in game. It’s not necessary to make an invitational bid right now, though. We can start with 1♠, since that is forcing. After partner’s rebid we’ll be better placed to know which game we’re aiming for.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

We have a spade fit, so the game we’re aiming for is 4♠. We can invite with a straightforward 3♠ or a more descriptive 3♣ or 3♦.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
?

No major-suit fit this time, so we’re aiming for 3NT. We invite with 2NT.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

Again, with no major-suit fit the game we’re aiming for is 3NT. We can invite with either 2NT or 3♣.