B E R G E N   R A I S E S
I Have 4-Card Support!

Bergen Raises and the Law
Have you noticed how popular Bergen Raises are amongst the people you play with and against?  It seems almost a given though, that anything that becomes popular will eventually generate some criticism that is probably valid.  There is a book by Mike Lawrence: I Fought the Law of Total Tricks which says that the Law of Total Tricks might not be as useful as people think.  (Marty Bergen's raises are based on this "Law")  Mike further says that after a lot of his own research combined with the mathematical analysis of others that the Law only works perhaps 40% of the time.  Supporters say Mike is not using the "Adjustments" to which Mike replies that the need for those adjustments confirms his opinion that the idea is not a law at all.

If Mike Lawrence is correct then anything that is wrong 60% of the time doesn't seem like a very good idea to me.  My problem with the Law is that it is extremely difficult to ascertain the number of trumps held by both sides, and if you don't know that you really cannot use the "Law".

Modification to Bergen Raises
However, if you a play this convention you might be interested in a modification.
    How do you show 3-card support with a limit raise?  The accepted way is to bid 1NT forcing followed by a jump raise for partner's major.  This runs into trouble, though, when the opponents interfere or your partner makes a strong jump shift.

    Consider this:  After partner opens 1 or 1, your jump to 3 is the 3-card limit raise.  A jump to 3 is a two-way bid -- either a 4-card constructive raise (8-10 support points) or 4-card limit raise (11-12).  Opener can ask which one you hold by bidding 3.  Your retreat to three of the major shows the constructive raise while any other bid confirms the stronger hand.

A Couple More Criticisms...
There are numerous bridge forums and discussion groups available on the internet where you will see other criticism of Bergen Raises.
    Lead Directing
    The use of 3 or 3 to show 4-card support but limited point-count gives the opponents the opportunity to make lead directing doubles which would not have been available otherwise.

    You are using three bids to show a major suit raise but you probably can find better uses for those bids.  A popular use for a jump shift over partner's opening major is to show a 6-card suit with the values of a good weak two bid, perhaps 8-10 points.  It's the 6-8-10 agreement.

    Use the Law Against You
    The Law, when it works, works for both sides.  If the opponents know you have a 9-card fit they can deduce that they probably have at least an 8-card fit and can compete more aggressively.

If you would like a more complete explanation of Bergen Raises try:  

Roy Wilson