Theory and Conventions

Home

M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

Beginner and above

Context  -  The opening bid.

6 2

A K J 8 2

K Q 7 5

T 4

Thirteen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape.

Open 1, and rebid 2 over any one of 1, 1NT or 2 from partner.


Hands with a major suit holding and fifteen or more points can always be opened with one of the five-card suit.

In some auctions you will be able to rebid in the four-card suit, and in other auctions you may prefer to rebid in no trumps rather than repeat your first suit.

K 2

A T

K J 5 3

Q 8 7 4 2

Thirteen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape.

Your points are spread between the four suits, and your five-card suit is of abysmal quality.

Open 1NT.

The alternative of opening 1 and trying to find a rebid following a major suit response doesn’t bear thinking about.

K 2

A T

Q 8 7 4 2

K 9 5 3

Even on this hand with a natural rebid guaranteed there is something to be said for opening 1NT at pairs scoring, in search of the better part-score.

K 2

A Q

K 9 5 3

K 8 7 4 2

Fifteen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape.

Your points are spread between the four suits, and your five-card suit is of abysmal quality - some would downgrade this hand to fourteen points and open 1NT.

Alternatively open 1 and rebid 1NT facing a major suit response.

Opening semi-balanced hands


Technically a semi-balanced hand is one with no voids or singletons, and no more than two doubletons.

In principle this covers 5-4-2-2 and 6-3-2-2  shapes.


To be honest there is no way of showing a semi-balanced hand in the bidding.

These hands sit uncomfortably somewhere in the nether region between single-suited hands (6-card suit), two-suited hands (5-5 shape) and balanced hands (5-3-3-2 shape say).

What you have to do is to choose to show the hand as one of these, either because it is the closest you can manage to the truth, or alternatively because it tells the smallest lie.


This page does no more than try to help you to choose the appropriate hand-type after which you should refer to the appropriate section to find out more about the action to be taken.


It will be rare in the extreme that the 6-3-2-2 shape is treated as anything other than unbalanced and single-suited.


The present page concerns itself, therefore, only with the 5-4-2-2 shape, sometimes referred to as semi-two-suited (along with the 5-4-3-1 shape).


Your first thought should be to treat such hands as two-suited, planning to open in the five-card suit and rebid in the four-card suit, but once in a while it will be necessary to have a second thought.


Where are your high cards?


Your possible holdings can be quite different in nature depending in particular on the quality of your long suits and the presence or absence of high cards in your short suits.


Weak doubletons


Easiest to analyse are those hands which contain either one or two weak doubletons (less than Kx).

Only when there is no alternative will you choose to show such hands as balanced.

The basic plan will be to open one of the five-card suit and rebid in the four-card suit.

This page last revised 22nd Feb 2018


Note that in this example the five-card suit is immediately higher-ranking than the four-card suit, and so the rebid in the second suit at the two-level will always be a possibility.

This clearly covers a holding such as five hearts and four diamonds, but the hand with five clubs and four spades should also be included in this category.

With such a holding you will always be able to make a non-reverse rebid in your second suit facing any lowest-level change of suit from partner.


With a different arrangement of the suits you will still have no problem rebidding in your second suit when holding sixteen or more points (enough for a strong reverse).

6 2

A K Q 5

A K J 8 2

9 4

Seventeen points, and all working well.

Open 1, planning to raise a 1 response to 3, or to rebid 2 (strong reverse - forcing) over a black suit or 1NT response.


With less than this you will still be happy to open one of your five-card suit provided that the quality of that suit warrants a rebid if necessary.

K 7 6 5

6 2

A K J 8 2

9 4

Only eleven points in the wrong 5-4-2-2 shape, but the diamond suit is of excellent quality.

Open 1, planning to rebid 1 over a heart response and 2 over either 1NT or 2.


But with a miserable five-card suit which you would be reluctant to rebid, and no guarantee that you will be able to rebid in your second suit, you should think twice about opening on eleven points, and you might even pass on twelve points on occasion.

6 2

K J 6 5

A 9 8 6 2

K 4

A ‘rule of twenty’ hand but with no good rebid facing a black suit response.

Personally I pass on this hand, but some would choose to open 1 with a rebid of 2.

J 2

A Q 6 5

K 9 8 4 2

Q 4

Twelve points in the wrong 5-4-2-2 shape, and with a fairly miserable five-card suit.

Some might open 1NT, and some will open 1 planning to rebid 2 over a black suit response, but there is also much to be said for downgrading this hand by a point and passing.


With the strength for a forcing reverse it will be rare that you should not start off by bidding your shape - you will get a further opportunity to show the suitability for no trumps.


Strong doubletons


With a stop in one, or preferably both, doubleton suits the hand will have a more ‘defensive’ feel and you will be more inclined to aim for a no trump contract.

Bear in mind that partner’s change of suit response will at least suggest a stop in that suit.


If your suits are the minors then the no trump contract will frequently lead to a better score, and when there is a potential rebid problem it will frequently be the lesser lie to open 1NT on hands in the twelve to fourteen-point range.

K 2

A Q

K 9 5 3

K Q 7 4 2

Seventeen points in a 5-4-2-2 shape.

It would certainly not be wrong to open 1, intending to rebid in no trumps to show the strength and the stops.

However, my choice is to open 1 and rebid 2 (forcing).  You will get a further chance to reach a no trump contract, and once in a while partner will be able to locate a minor suit slam.

Q 2

A Q 9 5

K 3

K Q 7 4 2

Open 1, planning to rebid 1 over 1, and to raise 1 to 3.

Over a 1 response you will make a forcing rebid of 2.


We are left only with hands in the eleven to fourteen range, with good stops in the short suits and some sort of major suit holding.


With a five-card major it will almost always be correct to open one of the major.

And with just a four-card major it will usually be correct to bid the hand naturally starting with one of the five-card suit, although once in a while you might prefer to start with 1NT.

Q 2

A Q T 9 5

K 3

K 7 4 2

Open 1, planning to rebid 2 over a 1N or 1NT response, and 2 over a 2 response.

K 7 4 2

Q 2

K 3

A Q T 9 5

I open 1 on this hand, planning to rebid 1 over a response in either red suit.

A 5

Q 7 4 2

A T 9 8 5

K 3

With every likelihood that you will not get to show your heart suit his might be the exception on which you open 1NT.

You may yet locate a heart fit by way of a Stayman sequence.