Here’s a bridge quiz for you. When your left-hand opponent opens with one of a suit and the next two players pass, sitting in the fourth (passout) seat you can be sure that partner has some values but no convenient bid. Therefore, add an imaginary king to your holding and then bid. If you’re the responder of the takeout bidder, you know that partner overbid. Therefore, subtract a king from your holding.

My editor Paul Laliberte drives home these points with the following quiz.


Q. 1—You hold these cards:

♠ 8 6 4
♥️ A 7
♦️ Q J 9 6
♣️ A 10 8 4

The auction:

LHO    Partner    RHO    You
1♦️      Pass         Pass      ?

What do you bid?

A.—Based on the auction, your partner likely has some strength. So there’s potential in the partnership. In the passout seat, therefore, add a king’s three points to the value of your hand. Bid 1NT with 11-14 high-card points. With standard 15-17 NoTrump points, double, then rebid NoTrump.

Q. 2—You hold:

♠ K 4 2
♥️ K 8 6 5 2
♦️ 8
♣️  J 9 5 2

The auction:

LHO     Partner    RHO     You
1♦️       Pass         Pass       ?

What do you bid?

A.—You wouldn’t overcall in the second (direct) seat, but in the passout seat it is clear to do so. Just pretend that one of your small clubs is the king, and now at 10 points you would have a normal, direct-seat overcall. Bid 1♥️.

Q. 3—You hold:

♠ 10 8 7 3
♥️ A J 8 3
♦️ 8 2
♣️ K Q 8

The auction:

LHO    Partner    RHO     You
1♦️      Pass         Pass       ?

What do you bid?

A.—Mentally give yourself the ♠K. Now you have a hand worthy of a takeout double in the passout seat.

Q. 4—You hold:

♠ K Q 8
♥️ A 8
♦️ K Q 8 4
♣️ K 10 7 3

The auction:

LHO    Partner     RHO     You
1♦️      Pass          Pass       ?

What do you bid?

A.—Once you’ve mentally added a king for being in the balancing seat, you have a 20-point hand. With that much in the direct seat, you would have to double first, to make sure your partner doesn’t pass, intending to bid NT next.

Q. 5—You hold:

♠  J 3
♥️ K J 8 3
♦️ A 7 4
♣️ Q 9 8 3

The auction:

RHO        You       LHO     Partner
1♥️           Pass     Pass       Dbl
Pass          ?

A.—Partner has already overbid by three points, so a 1NT bid by you is plenty.  Remember, since partner is expected to overbid in the passout seat, you must underbid to compensate.

Q. 6—You hold:

♠ K J 5
♥️ J 6 3
♦️ A 9 7 2
♣️  J 7 3

The action:

RHO     You       LHO     Partner
1♥️        Pass     Pass       1♠
Pass  ?

What do you bid?

A.—With 10 points and nice spades, you would have been more enthusiastic opposite a direct-seat overcall. Facing a passout bid, mentally deduct the three jacks and bid 2♠.

Q. 7—You hold:

♠ 8
♥️ A J 8 4
♦️ K Q 8 5 3
♣️ Q 10 5

The auction:

RHO     You     LHO    Partner
1♥️        Pass    Pass     1♠
Pass  ?

What do you bid?

A.—Mentally deducting the ♦️K to compensate for the king partner borrowed from you, bid 1NT.