3rd Seat Major Suit Raises

Partner Opens a Major in 3rd Seat
After three passes your partner opens the bidding with a major.  That's the good news.  The dilemma is whether or not he actually holds an opening hand.  From more that 50 years ago bridge players have been opening very light hands in that seat because they want to make life difficult for the fourth seat bidder who might have a very good hand.

The Drury Convention
A long time ago Douglas Drury and his partner decided to use an artificial 2 response to discover if the opener did indeed have the points for a full opener.  The artificial response was an "Asking Bid" and originally the opener would rebid 2 with a minimum hand and rebid his suit with a full opener.

Maybe 25 years ago players decided that it would be better to play Reverse Drury, where a rebid of the opening suit would show the minimum hand.  This allowed the opener to rebid a suit where he had some outside strength as well as show a full opening hand.

Most players only use Drury after a 3rd seat opening, expecting partner not to open with a minimum hand in the pass-out position.

As a further evolution of the convention we now have both Reverse Drury and Two-Way Reverse Drury where a 2 is also an asking bid but promises 4-card support while the 2 call has only 3-card support.  And bridge players, being bridge players, sometimes switch the meaning of those two bids as well.

The Drury Weakness
In today's world of bridge I have found at least seven variations of the Drury convention, and all of the new forms are based on the premise that the problem with the old method is that it is an "Asking" bid when it should be a "Telling" bid.  The thought today is that the opening bidder who has the stronger hand needs to know what responder has more than the other way.  It also seems to be bad bridge to tell the opponents what both hands look like, so it is better to keep the opening hand non-disclosed, if possible.

Below is a description of a telling form of the convention.  You might find a Drury you like better, but modern forms of it are all telling bids and no longer asking bids.  You can also find more complex forms of the agreement than this.

A Better Drury
Partner opens a major in third seat:

Opener     Partner     Meaning
1 or 1     2 4-card support with 7-11 HCP
    2 3-card support with 10-11 HCP

It seems obvious that after a 2 response opener should retreat to his major with a minimum hand and find another call with a good hand.
This is the agreement...  Opener rebids 2 to ask his partner what he holds in the wide-range of 7-11 points he has promised.
  • With 7-8 points responder bids two of the trump suit
  • With 9 points responder jumps to the 3-level in the trump suit
  • With 10-11 responder bids game
By partnership agreement you can decide what opener's rebid of 2NT means, but one common meaning is that it asks responder if he has a singleton or void.  (Bid a new suit with a singleton and jump in a new suit with a void.)

Opener can also rebid the other major or either minor.  Discuss these bids with your partner and decide what they mean, but I might suggest you simply treat them as whatever your partnership normally uses... Help-suit game try or perhaps a splinter bid.  You can also assign an artificial meaning to them, but Drury occurs so infrequently you might have a memory lapse.

By changing the Drury convention from an asking Bid to a Telling Bid experts usually agree that you have gained an advantage, and here's one more:  Now it makes sense to also use it after partner opens in 4th seat!

Bridge is such a simple game.

If you would like a more complete explanation of the Drury convention, try:  

Roy Wilson