Lesson 4 -- 1 of a Major Opening and Responses
Unlike the NT openings, opening 1 of a suit is basically an unlimited
bid. You could have from 13-20 points (yes, techinically this is limited,
but not very much) and you could have anywhere from 5 of the suit (less in
a minor suit) to 8 or even more. While NT bidding is usually quite clear
cut, bidding after a major suit opening can be quite confusing.
Requirements for opening 1 of a Major
You should open 1 of a major suit when:
That last one is a bit touchy. Forexample, if you have S AKQxxx H QJTxx D Jx C -- then you meet all of the requirements for a 1H opening, but 1S is better.
- You have 13 or more points, but
- You have less than 21 points (with 21+, open 2C).
- You have 5 or more cards in the suit, and
- Another opening isn't better.
What to do with two suited hands
If you have two suits that are both 5 cards or longer, open the longest suit.
If they are both the same strength and one is a major suit (H,S) and the
other is a minor (D,C) then open the major. If both suits are majors, open
spades first, unless you have 17+ points, in which case you'll open hearts
and bid spades (this is called Reversing and shows a hand of at least
an ace better than regular opening hands).
When to open 1NT with a five card major
This is a subject up to individual parntership, but I would consider
a 1NT opening hiding a five card major acceptable if:
Of course, this is assuming I have a hand that I would open 1NT with if
I didn't have a 5 card suit (16-18 points, balanced).
- My distribution was 5-3-3-2.
- My major suit was weak
- I had stoppers in all the other suits.
- I didn't have 18 points.
Responses to a major suit opening
Hands can be devided up into ranges based on points and whether or not
a fit exists. We'll first deal with hands where you don't have a fit.
Responding with 0-2 of partner's bid suit.
Your response depends upon your point range:
Well, look at some of the reasons behind this in more depth.
- With 0-5 points: Pass.
- With 6-9 points: Bid 1NT (or, if you have 4+ spades over a 1H opening,
- With 10-11 points and a balanced hand: Bid 2NT.
- With 12-13 points and a balanced hand: Bid 3NT.
- With 10-16 points and a 5 card suit, bid it.
- With 17+ points and a 5+ card suit, jump bid it.
The Pass is based on the fact that opener is limited to 20 HCP, so
if you have 0-5, you have less than the necessary points for game. PASS tells
partner that. Even if you have no cards in partners suit, you should pass.
Odds are you won't go down that much, and if you are doubled, then you can
bid your best suit if you have to.
With 6-9 HCP, you have to bid 1NT ,
unless you have a 4+ card spade suit after
a 1H opening, You need 5 of a major to open it, but only 4 to respond in
it. (The reasons for that will be given in the next lesson.) You
might wind up bidding 1NT with a void, that's ok. You have to bid 1NT because
of a fundamental rule: Responding at the two level to a 1-of-a-suit opener
shows at least 10 points.
The 2NT and 3NT
bids are Limited bids, and you will probably
play in 3NT unless a) partner passes 2NT with a minimum or b) partner has
a 6 card suit or c) partner has a very distributional hand.
Remember, since you have a balanced hand, but not enough trumps
to support partner, 2/3 NT shows exactly 2 card support for partner. (1NT is
exempt because it is a catch-all response).
If you have a 5 card suit and 10+ points, you can bid it at the two level.
(Or 1S over 1H). If you have two suits of equal length bid the lowest
suit first. Remember Open the higher of two equal suits, respond
with the lower . Very rarely, you'll have to bid a 4 card suit at the
two level. This will only occur when you have 1-4-4-4 distribution (only
1 card support for partner, 4 of each other suit). In that case, it is
probably best to bid 2C (the cheapest suit) unless one suit is much better than
If you have an exceptional hand (17+ HCP), Jump-Shift, that is, bid
your suit at a higher level than necessary. Your suit must be at least 5
cards or longer. Once you Jump-Shift, the biddding must go to game, and slam
is a distinct possibility.
Responding with a fit in opener's suit
If you have a fit with partner (3+ cards in his suit) then you will probably
be bidding partner's suit. But, once you have a fit with partner, you are
allowed to re-evaluate your hand, based on the number of distributional
points you have.
In addition to your high-card points, you get points for having a void,
singleton or doubleton:
This is only when you plan to raise partner. There are a few
things to remember about this. Singleton honors (except the ace) should
be devalued (this is true in general), and if you have three small trump,
you should be wary of counting a doubleton for anything. Anyway, now that
you have re-evaluated your hand (adding your distributional points to
- 3 points for a void,
- 2 points for a singleton,
- 1 point for a doubleton.
- 1 point for each trump beyond 3.
Again, with 0-5 HCP, you Pass and await developments. If the auction
continues, you can safely make a raise.
- With 0-5 HCP: Pass
- With 6-9 HCP: Raise to the 2 level
- With 13+ HCP: Raise to the 3 level
- With 6-9 HCP* and 5+ Trumps: Raise to the 4 level.
(* For this bid, 6-9HCP NOT counting distribution).
- With 17+ HCP and a good side suit: Jump in the side suit.
- With 10-12 HCP: Make a temporizing bid.
With 6-9 HCP, you raise
to the 2 level. This shows minimum support.
With 13+ HCP and a fit, you make a jump raise
to the 3 level. This is forcing
to game and either side may make slam attempts if they have an extra ace or
With a weakish hand and 5+ trump, you may jump directly to game. Notice
that again the double jump is weaker than the jump. Hands in which
the partnership have 10+ trumps between them have a very good trick taking
potential, and the opponents may have the ability to make a 3 or 4 level
contract themselves. So, the jump to 4 usually either makes or keeps the
opponents from making a good contract themselves. This bid is meant (as
most game bids are) as a signoff bid.
If you have 10-12 HCP and trump support, you have an intermediate hand. You
should bid your best non-trump suit ,
and plan on bidding 3 of opener's major
on the next round if opener shows a weak hand. If opener shows a stronger hand
then you will go to the 4 level. Which suit you bid is the same as if you
didn't have a fit, except you are more likely to have to bid a 4 card suit.
This type of bidding is called temporizing.
A jump shift
again shows a strong hand, but you may be hiding support. Only
do this if your second suit is very good and your support is not that good
(three small, for example).
In this summary M means major suit, m means minor. 2M/1M means a raise
of opener's Major suit...
- Pass: 0-5 HCP.
- 1H: 13-20 HCP, 5+ Hearts, probably less Spades than Hearts.
- 1S: 13-20 HCP, 5+ Spades, may have as many Hearts as Spades.
- 1S(/1H): 6+ HCP, 4+ Spades. May have 3+ Hearts if 10-12 HCP (temporizing
- 1NT: 6-9 HCP, 0-2 cards in opener's suit.
- 2m: 10+ HCP, 5+ cards in suit (sometimes 4). May have 10-12 HCP and 3+ in
opener's major (temporizing bid).
- 2H(/1S): 10+HCP, 5+ cards in suit. May be temporizing.
- 2M(/1M): 6-9 HCP, 3+ card support
- 2S(/1H): 17+ HCP, 5+ Spades.
- 2N: 10-11 HCP, 2 card support for opener. No good 5 card suit. Denies
4 spades after a 1H opening.
- 3C,3D,3H(/1S): 17+ HCP, 5+ Card suit.
- 3M(/1M): 13+ HCP, 3+ card support. Game Forcing.
- 3NT: 12-13 HCP, 2 card support for opener. No good 5 card suit. Denies
4 spades after a 1H opening.
- 4M(/1M): 6-9 HCP (No distribution), 5+ card support.
- 4NT: Blackwood (see slam bidding).
Of all of the aspects of a system, the 1 Level Openings are the
most toyed with, because these bids occur the most frequently.
Typical tournament players will probably have a very different system,
including innocous changes such as making 3M/1M an intermediate bid and
temporizing with strong hands. More radical systems exist and are fairly
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