6 English Bridge August 2017 www.ebu.co.uk
encourage my students to see auctions as
conversations. Tell your partner about your
hand and listen to what partner is saying back.
It is often a pretty short conversation - you don't
usually get to say that many things! This means you
need to prioritise and give the most important
information as early as possible - so your choices of
whether to open and what to open are really
The first consideration is whether you should
open the bidding. My usual advice is that you
should be opening most 12 point hands and can
open with 11 points if you have 'a reason'. This
might be a particularly good or long suit or some
other extra shape; often it's more than one of these
things. It is important to realise that passing does
not prevent you from bidding later - indeed, it can
make subsequent bidding much easier as partner
will know you aren't very strong.
The second question is what to open. Your first
priority should be 1NT if you can, and this will be
covered in the next article. Assuming that you are
opening one of a suit you should always open the
suit in which you have most cards - your longest
suit - which won't always be your strongest suit.
Don't be tempted to open a stronger, shorter suit -
you will just confuse partner as the auction
continues. A good general rule for bidding is that
telling partner where your long cards are is usually
more useful to them than telling them where your
With two five card suits you should open the
higher-ranking (spades, then hearts, then
diamonds - think of High Five). If you open the
lower you will sometimes find it difficult to make a
sensible bid on the second round of the auction.
With two four card suits open a major suit (hearts
or spades) if you can. A good rule is to open 1™, 1´
then 1® in that order of preference.
Have a go at these problems: would you open
and, if so, what?
1. 1™. With 16 points you should definitely be
opening and you should always start with your
longest suit - don't be lured in by the quality of
your diamonds! You can bid them later if it looks
like a good idea.
2. 1™. You only have 11 points but they are all in
your long suits, which is good; you have a
singleton and good intermediate cards (those
3. Pass. You have queens and jacks in your short
suits, which are not very useful, and you will
probably be able to overcall 1´ later when the
auction gets back to you. This will be a far better
description of your hand than telling partner
that it is worth an opening bid!
4. 1´. You are out of range for 1NT, which shows
12-14, so open your major.
5. 1t. With two five card suits open the higher
(High Five), even if it is the weaker suit. This is
because it makes it easier to show your shape
later. You may bid 2® next and partner can pass
or show preference for diamonds all at the
2-level. If you bid 1® first and partner responds
at the one level, you will now have to go 2t to
show your second suit and may end up playing at
the 3-level even if partner has a weak hand.
Opening the Bidding
ACOLytes - Know the Basics by Sarah Bell
´ A Q 4 2
™ A 5
t K J 7
® Q 9 8 5
´ K 6
t K 8 7 5 4
® K Q 8 7 3
Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3
´ Q 5 4 ´ 7 ´ K J 7 5 4
™ A 9 7 5 3 ™ A Q J 10 3 ™ Q J
t A K Q J t K J 10 7 t Q J
® 6 ® 8 6 2 ® J 8 5 4