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OPENING BIDS






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).

Your bid Requirements Comments
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¨ - 1ª (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©/1ª Promises at least 5 cards in the bid suit. With two major suits, open in the longer suit. With two equal major suits, open 1ª 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.

Your bid Requirements Comments
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.
2¨ NEW!!! Strong forcing opening, normally promising 20+ DP with the specific distribution 5+ in a minor and exactly 4 in a major. This is a specific opening designed for strong hands with a long minor and a 4-cd. major. Minimum point counts can be lowered for strategic bidding, especially in 3rd-4th position openings.

 

Your bid Requirements Comments
2©/2ª 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 a 1©/1ª opening 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 the minors, these bids can be made sometimes on a nice 6-card suit and not much else.

Because a major-suit overcall 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©/3ª 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 3ª 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.

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