OBAR BIDS are an acronym invented by American expert Marty Bergen for "Opponents Bid And Raise, Balance In Direct Seat." They are an adjunct to the Law of Total Tricks, as promoted by Bergen and his former partner Larry Cohen.

OBAR BIDS are essentially a philosophy for aggressive, direct-seat balancing. For example, consider the following auction in which North-South bid and raise diamonds:

West
Pass
2H
North
1D

East
Pass

South
2D


West is normally supposed to have 10-11 points with 5 hearts. Playing OBAR BIDS, however, West is allowed to compete with a much weaker hand such as:

    S87
    HAQT93
    D42
    CJT92

The minimum strength for the OBAR BID may vary depending on the vulnerability, but could be as little as 6 points. Note that weak takeout doubles also qualify as OBAR BIDS:

West
Pass
Dbl
North
1C

East
Pass

South
2C


West can double with a weak distributional hand like:

    SJ875
    HQT87
    DA652
    C4

OBAR BIDS are a two-way shot:

  1. If the opponents intend to stop in a partscore, then it's important to compete in accordance with the Law of Total Tricks. Letting the opponents play a partscore in an 8-card fit is the antithesis of Law philosophy.
  2. If the opponents end up outbidding you, the OBAR BID may provide lead direction to partner.

It's important to consider the following factors before making an OBAR BID:

  • Suit length and quality. The weaker the hand, the more likely it is that the opponents will bid on. If partner is on opening lead, it's important that he can safely lead your suit, e.g. the king from K-x.
  • Distribution. Flatter hands (e.g. 5-3-3-2, 4-4-3-2) have a lower rate of trick-taking potential.
  • Vulnerability. At unfavorable vulnerability, the risk of a big penalty double increases.
  • The opponents' suit rank. A takeout double of 2C is much safer than a takeout double of 2S. The latter forces partner to bid at the 3-level.

See also

Sponsors