Page 0038

The Debate Paul Bowyer

Opening Light is Losing Strategy

Two top players debate a hot bridge topic. Tell us whose argument has won you over by emailing elena@ebu.co.uk

AS AN old fashioned-player I hold to the auction progresses, would certainly pass

belief that opening poor hands is, in the Hand 3 will be wondering Hand 7 this hand in the first

long term, losing strategy. Opening bids ´ J8 what prompted you ´ AQ85 two seats. The differ-

should be sound in the first two seats. ™ K75 to open the bidding. ™ K9743 ence, of course, is that

Quite what constitutes ‘sound’ is, of t A K 10 7 6 It is unlikely to occur t 4 Hand 7 will be forced

course, what this debate is all about – and ® 753 to partner that it is ® Q 10 3 to rebid 2™ over a 2t

it’s not always about points. because you are a response (and how

I think it is foolish to open the bidding raving lunatic. True, a would you feel if the

with weak two-suiters, especially if the 1t opening bid will attract the right response were 1NT? The chance of you

main suit is poor. Also it is rarely right to opening lead if LHO becomes declarer but getting a plus score now must be very slim).

open a one-bid on an 11-count 5-3-3-2 it has little other merit. If you judge this At least on Hand 6 you can show both suits

hand too weak for a weak no-trump. hand an opening bid, then you should over any response from partner.

Previous crimes of this sort include the open 1NT; if you judge it isn’t an opening 4-4-4-1 hands are another frequent

following two examples (opening 1™ on bid, then you should pass. With a major source of minus scores. Many authors

Hand 1 and 1t on Hand 2) perpetrated there is more excuse to open 5-3-3-2 have pointed out that these hands rarely

by team-members of mine in local league hands, but even here it is dubious tactics. seem to play well in practice and there is

matches. These idiocies generated unwel- little merit in straining to open the

come adverse swings to nobody’s surprise Opening Hand 4 bidding on minimum values. The argu-

but themselves. Hand 4 with 1´ in the first ment ‘I have eleven points and a singleton

´ A K 10 7 6 two seats (despite the so I must open the bidding’ is banal,

™ K75 good suit) is debate- although many players adhere to it. I would

Hand 1 Hand 2 t J8 able at best (it is an happily pass Hand 8 in the first two seats:

´ Void ´ J8 ® 753 obvious opening bid

™ J 10 7 6 5 4 ™ KQ4 in third seat, where If the opponents win

t A K J 10 6 t Q 10 7 4 3 making life awkward Hand 8 the auction they are

® 10 6 ® Q J 10 for the opponents and attracting a lead are ´ AJ83 welcome to play – it

important strategies). I would always pass ™ J won’t be easy for

this hand in the first two seats; 5-3-3-2 t Q976 them. Yes, if they only

Both of these hands, of course, should be hands just contain too many losers. Of ® KJ86 bid hearts I will be

passed in first or second seat. There is little course, opening Hand 5 with 1´ in first or there with a take-out

virtue in opening either hand before second seat is simply barking mad. double as it looks as

partner has spoken; Terence Reese dis- though we have a trump fit but if the

missed the practice of opening weak Also, I think it best opponents are bidding something else . . .

hands with poor suits with the droll Hand 5 not to open weakish So, in summary, I believe in opening

comment that they were ‘500-fodder’. The ´ Q 10 7 4 3 5-4-3-1 (or 5-4-2-2) bids on sound values. Roughly speaking, I

first hand can wait and listen to the ™ KQ4 hands if you can’t bid open 12 point hands and 11 point hands

auction, with a second round intervention t J8 both of your suits. when I can be confident of bidding both

being descriptive of a weak two-suiter. ® Q J 10 For example, con- suits. I do not believe in opening 10 point

Hand 2 has too little offensive potential sider the next hand: hands with a six-card minor (what’s the

(and too much defence) to be worth point? It just makes it easier for the oppo-

opening (if you must bid then try opening Hand 6 is a per- nents to overcall and win the auction) nor

a weak 1NT). 11-point opening bids Hand 6 fectly respectable, if with substandard major-suit hands.

should have some tactical merit in ´ K9743 minimum, opening Of course, that doesn’t mean that I

opening the bidding. Even if Hand 2 is ™ AQ85 bid of 1´. However, won’t subsequently bid on the second

altered a little with concentrated values t 4 Hand 7 (top of next round of the auction; I just don’t believe it

(see Hand 3, top of next column), it still ® Q 10 3 column) is, at best, a is right to mislead partner as to my

isn’t worth opening 1t. The point here is very doubtful open- defensive strength with a substandard

that partner, looking at a good hand as the ing bid of 1™. I opening bid. r

38 English Bridge August 2012 www.ebu.co.uk

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