Opening bids in my preferred system fall into several categories: normal, strong and pre-emptive. Normal bids are made with a minimum of 13 HCP or 14 DP (maybe a bit weaker in 3rd / 4th position). Strong bids are made where a game contract is very likely and slam a distinct possibility. Pre-emptive bids are made with a long suit and few points where they are "strategically"" advisable (i.e. vulnerability and position in the bidding sequence must be taken into consideration).
Normal opening bids
|1♣||Promises at least 3 clubs. Responses Rebids||Balanced hands that do not qualify for a NT or strong opening should be opened 1♣ unless the diamonds are longer than the clubs (with some exceptions, see under 1♦. A semibalanced hand with 5 clubs should be opened 1♣ or 1/2NT (as appropriate).|
|1♦||Promises at least 3 diamonds. Responses Rebids||Balanced hands that do not qualify for a NT or strong opening are opened 1♦ only if diamonds are longer than clubs. However, the specific pattern 3-4-4-2 with 13-15 HCP is best opened 1♣, because there is no good rebid after the sequence 1♦ - 1♠ (a rebid of 1 NT would normally promise 3 spades). A semibalanced hand with 5 diamonds should be opened 1♦ or 1/2NT (as appropriate).|
|1♥ / 1♠||Promises at least 5 cards in the bid suit.||With two major suits, open in the longer suit. With two equal major suits, open 1♠ with up to 16 DP, and 1♥ with 17+ DP.|
|1NT||16-18 HCP, with a balanced or semibalanced (5-card minor) distribution. Every suit must have some strength (K-x or Q-x-x).||If the suit strength requirement is not satisfied, open 1♣ or 1♦, as appropriate.|
|2NT||21-22 HCP, with a balanced or semibalanced (5-card minor) distribution. Every suit must have some strength (K-x or Q-x-x).||If the suit strength requirement is not satisfied, open 1♣ or 1♦, as appropriate (or 2♣ with a good 5-card minor).|
What if there is a choice of possible opening bids? A simple principle applies: bid the major even if the minor is longer (e.g. with 6-5-1-1 distribution, with 6 clubs and 5 hearts, open 1♥. With two 4-card (or longer) minors in an unbalanced hand (i.e. 4-4-4-1, 5-4-2-2 etc.) open the longer suit, and if of equal length, open 1♦ with up to 16 DP, and 1♣ with 17+ DP.
Strong opening bids
|2♣||NEW!!! Strong forcing opening, normally promising 20+ DP with a long suit or 23-26 HP with a balanced hand (except as below).||The point requirements can be stretched judiciously with a strong suit.|
Pre-emptive opening bids
|2♦ / 2♥ / 2♠||Promises at least 6 cards in the suit and 6-12 HP. In first or second position, the suit should have at least two honours (Q-J-x-x-x-x) and an outside A or K. In third and fourth position, these requirements can be lowered a bit. There should not be a second 4-card major suit.||This is a strategic bid ("weak two") that is over-used by many players. Hands that would marginally qualify for an opening at the 1 level should be opened as such, especially in 1st/2nd position.|
|3♣ / 3♦||(i) Promises at least 7 cards in the suit and fewer than opening
points. If opponents' double is optional or for penalty, contract should not go down more
than 2 (vulnerable) or 3 (non-vulnerable).
(ii) As weak twos are not possible for clubs, a bid of 3♣ can be made on a nice 6-card suit and not much else.
|Because a major-suit overcall of these bids is not that difficult, these pre-emptive bids should not be used with a weak suit, so that partner can proceed to 3NT or a raise to 4/5 of your suit with confidence.|
|3♥ / 3♠||Promises at least 7 cards in the suit and fewer than opening points. If opponents' double is optional or for penalty, contract should not go down more than 2 (vulnerable) or 3 (non-vulnerable).||The suit strength requirement is less important than for minors. After all, how can a 3♠ bid be disastrous with a 7-card spade suit?|
|3NT||Promises a long (6+) very strong minor suit (K-Q-J or better) and 2 outside stoppers (A or protected K). No 4-card or longer major.||This is the famous "gambling no-trump" opening, much used in the ACOL system.|
|4/5 of a suit||8-card suit or longer.||This is an entirely strategic bid, which should not be made if a slam is at all likely.|
Copyright Gabor Sandi 1998-2019
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