Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Beginner and above

Context  -  The opening bid.

Opening 5-4 shape

In this category are 5-4-3-1, 5-4-2-2 and 5-4-4-0 shapes.

Weak Bids

At a basic level there are no weak bids with this hand-shape.

This page last revised 31st Aug 2018

Intermediate and above

At an intermediate level and beyond, many partnerships include artificial opening bids at the two-level which typically cater for weak hands with a five-card major and a four-card minor.

two-suited weak twos

Strong hands

Any hand of twenty three or more points should open with the appropriate game-forcing bid in your system.

In my recommended starter (and beyond) system of ‘three weak and one strong’ this will be a game-forcing (or nearly so) opening bid of 2.

open 2

and rebid in the five-card suit.

Most other strong hands (say nineteen or more points) will open one of the five-card suit and, facing any sort of response from partner, will then either make a forcing strong reverse into the four-card suit or make a jump rebid in the four-card suit to create a game-forcing situation.

(Other systems of opening bids at the two-level, including strong options, are available - see ‘opening at the two-level’.)

Opening one of a suit

As a general rule I am happy to open 5-4 hands according to the ‘rule of 20’.

In practice this means a minimum of eleven working points.

The starting point for your thinking should be that you will start with one of the five-card suit planning to rebid in the four-card suit, but there are exceptions related to the partnership agreement on reverse bidding.

For a fuller consideration follow the link

opening one of a suit

A further exception will occasionally apply on hands with

5-4-2-2 shape

Most hands with 5-4-2-2 shape and normal opening strength will start with one of a suit as above.

But there will be a few hands, mostly in the twelve to fifteen point range (not strong enough for a strong reverse), which are better treated as balanced.  Follow this link to identify such hands.

5-4-2-2 shape


Any other hand should be passed.

Beginner and above