DEC_08_EB_p50-51 Debate 14/11/08 10:10 am Page 46
With 4-4 in a major
and a minor,
open the major
Two top players debate a hot bridge topic. Tell us whose argument
Sally Brock has won you over by e-mailing the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
WITH 4-4 in a major and a minor and a 1NT – 2♣ (Checkback) – 2♥ – 2♠ – 2NT – 9 or so and would respond at the two level
hand too strong for a weak no-trump it is 3NT. Ouch! If there’s a winning defence to anyway, allowing opener to rebid 2NT. So
best to open the major. That is a sentiment find, you would expect them to find it! at game level at least, declarer would be
with which I most heartily concur. the stronger hand.
Making it dangerous At part-score level I admit it would be
As few bids as possible better for the stronger hand to be declarer
I don’t much mind if I play a five-card and in my methods he probably won’t be,
When I played bridge twenty or so years major or a four-card major system. But it but this can be overrated. I once developed
ago I tried to bid every hand scientifically, seems to me that if you are playing four- a strong club system which had one little
aiming for the best contract every time. I card majors, then to get full advantage you flaw and in a big pairs field I found myself
now think that is an impractical aim and should open one as often as possible. declaring 3NT with J-x-x in diamonds and
losing philosophy. My thinking is more in If I open 1♠ when I am 4-4 with clubs nothing else, and a balanced 26-count in the
line with that often quoted by Michael or diamonds, my opponent has to intro- dummy. However, the opening lead was a
Rosenberg, that when you get to declare a duce his heart suit at the two level or not diamond from Q-10-x-x-x and I was the
hand you want to have arrived there in as at all. If he wishes to make a weak jump only player in the room to make 3NT!
few bids as possible. overcall, he has to do so at the three level. Of course, when there is a 4-4 major fit
In my view many players lose sight of A particularly favourite auction is when it I will gain in the declaring stakes because I
basic bidding theory. If you have game goes, for example, 1♠ – (Pass) – 2♠ – (Pass) will bid 1♥ – 2♥ – 2NT – 3♥/4♥ or 1♥ –
values or thereabouts, investigate eight- – Pass – ? Where the 1♠ is always or usually 3♥ – 4♥. They, on the other hand, will bid
card major-suit fits and if you don’t have a five-card suit, there will usually be an 1♣/1♦ – 1♥ – 2♥/3♥, and the weaker
one, bid 3NT. Only rarely are you eight-card fit for both sides, making it hand will be declarer. And that brings me
interested in minor-suit games, especially pretty safe for the opposition to balance. to another point . . .
in uncontested auctions. However, playing a four-card major system,
If I open the major with my 4-4 balanced where you raise freely with three-card What does it mean when opener
hand, there is a good chance the bidding support, then someone balancing in that raises responder’s major?
will go 1♠ – 3♠ – 4♠. Or 1♠ – 2♠ – 2NT ‘standard’ sequence may have a nasty shock
– 4♠. Or 1♠ – 2♠ – 2NT – 3NT. We have coming. Take a straightforward sequence: 1♣ – 1♥ –
arrived at our game in the suit opened or 2♥. For me, opener can’t have a balanced
no-trumps without telling the opponents The positional element hand or he would have opened 1NT. So he
anything about any other suits. either has four-card support, or three-card
However, if, with 4-4 in spades and, say, For me the best argument that the ‘open support and a singleton, but in either case
clubs, you open 1♣, and partner responds the minor’ brigade have is that of he’d be fairly minimum in terms of high-
1♥, what now? 1♠ or 1NT? Modern theory positionality. They will tell you that if it is card values. However, the ‘open-the-minor’
opts for 1NT, and I would agree that this is a hand on which strong no-trumpers brigade surely have to encompass the above,
the better option, but you will miss a 4-4 would bid 1NT – 3NT, or 1NT – 2 ♣ – as well as a 4-4-3-2 hand in the 15–16 range.
spade fit when partner does not have the 2 any – 3NT, or even 1NT – 2NT – 3NT, Or do they bid 3♥ with those hands (in
values to move. It also means that when you then they will bid 1 minor – 1 major – which case they are getting a level higher
do rebid 1NT and partner does have the 1NT etc. and the stronger hand will be than necessary when partner is minimum)?
values to bid on, he needs to investigate a declarer. Whereas my auction will go 1 If they bid 2♥, then how does responder
spade fit, therefore revealing more about major – 1NT – 2NT – 3NT, or some such, know whether to make a game try when
both hands to the opposition. Suppose leaving the responding hand at the helm. opener has a range of 11–16 points?
opener is 3-3-3-4 and responder is 4-4-3-2, I admit that they have a point. But Overall, to my mind, it is not even close!
my auction would be: 1♣ – 1♥ – 1NT – remember that when opener has 15 or 16 The practical action for practical players is
3NT. The alternative would be: 1♣ – 1♥ – points, for game to be on responder needs to open the major.
46 English Bridge December 2008 www.ebu.co.uk