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LESSON 5
One in a Suit Opening bids
  1. General Strategy
  2. Opening 1 in a Suit
  3. Counting Shortage Points
  4. Raising Opener's suit
  5. Opener's Reply after a suit Raise
  6. Second bids by the Responder
  7. Strategy in Trump contract Play
  8. Deals 5 to 8
  9. Quiz - Answers - Review
  10. Bidding Guide: 2 - 4 - 14 - Facts 3

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BR 5.1 - General Strategy

The winning strategy in Contract Bridge is the one which produces the highest score in terms of trick- & bonus- points.
The top priority in the auction is therefore to find a contract in NT or in one of the major suits (Spades or Hearts) as with these you are awarded the highest trick points for each trick.

Also it is easier to make a Game contract in NT and in the majors, as these require less tricks (9 or 10) than a Game contracts in the minor suits, for which 11 tricks are required.

The priorities therefore are :

  1. First look for a contract in No Trumps

  2. If this is not on, look for a trump fit in Hearts or Spades

  3. If all above is not feasible : go for a contract in Clubs or Diamonds
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BR 5.2 - Opening 1 in a Suit

The point ranges for all opening bids always are the High Card Points plus the Length Points (HCP + LP) in your hand.

The Opening bids of 1 in a suit are :

  • 1 Spade - shows 13 - 21 points and 5-card (or longer) Spade suit.

  • 1 Heart - shows 13 - 21 points and 5-card (or longer) Heart suit.

  • 1 Diamond - shows 13 - 21 points and 4-card (or longer) Diamond suit.

  • 1 Club - shows 13 - 21 points and 2-card (or longer) Club suit. (Comment)

The first thing to notice about these bids is their wide points range (13 - 21 points).
One in a suit opening bids are therefore called open bids, in contrast to limit bids (like the 1NT opening bid).

Secondly, one in a suit openings do not show a specific hand shape, but instead promise a minimum number of cards in one particular suit.

Here are the choices of opening bids (at the 1 level) you can make and the order of priorities in which you should select them.

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  1. If your hand qualifies for a NT Opening bid : make that bid.
    If not : consider option 2.

  2. If your hand qualifies for a 1 Spade or 1 Heart Opening bid : make that bid.
    If not : consider option 3.

  3. If you have at least 13 points (but can not make one of the bids above) : bid 1 Diamond or 1 Club.

  4. If you have less than 13 points : do not make an opening bid, but pass instead.

Here are some typical example hands.


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Hand 1
You have 16 points (15 HCP + 1LP) and a semibalanced hand. This does not qualify for a 1NT opening.
However you have 5 Spades - open therefore : 1 Spades

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Hand 2
You have 14½ points and a balanced hand.
Not enough points for a 1NT opening and no 5-card major suit either.
You have 4 Diamonds - open therefore : 1 Diamond

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Hand 3
You have 21 points and a balanced hand.
Too many points for a 1NT opening and no 5-card major suit.
You have only 2 Diamonds but 4 Clubs - open therefore : 1 Club

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Hand 4
You have 14 points and a balanced hand.
Not enough points for a 1NT opening, no 5-card major and no 4-card Diamond suit.
You have 2 cards in Clubs : open therefore with 1 Club.

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Hand 5
You have 15½ points (13½ HCP + 2 LP) and an unbalanced hand.
Not suitable for a 1NT opening, but you have two 5-card major suits.
With two 5-card suits always bid the higher ranking suit first.
Open therefore with 1 Spade

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Hand 6
You have only 12½ points, half a point short of a minimum opening. However with a 4432 suit distribution and good honour support (more then one honour card) in three suits upgrade this hand to an Opening hand.
Open 1D.

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BR 5.3 - Shortage Points

When you and your Partner are lucky enough to find a trump fit during the auction (8 or more cards of a suit in the combined hands) it is necessary to revaluate your hands.
As you are going to play with a trump suit, short suits (doubletons, singletons and voids) add ruffing potential to your hand.

To include this aspect in your hand valuation : remove any length points in your hand from your point count, and replaced them by shortage points.
Shortage points are awarded as follows :

Doubleton = 1 point
Singleton = 3 points
Void = 5 points

Converting from Length points to Shortage points usually makes little (or even no) difference in balanced and semibalanced hands. Unbalanced hands however may be upgraded significantly in strength.


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Example 1 shows the conversion from Length Points to Shortage points for a balanced hand. The point strength in this case remains the same.
(A balanced hand with a 4 - 4 - 3 - 2 distribution would increase 1 point in value.)

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Example 2 shows the conversion from Length Points to Shortage points for a semibalanced hand. The strength of the hand in this case is increase by 1 point.

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Example 3 shows the conversion from Length Points to Shortage points for an unbalanced hand. The point strength in this case increases by 3 points, from 17½ to 20½.

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Remember : Shortage points are only counted when a trump fit between the two hands is found!


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BR 5.4 - Raises of a 1 in a Suit Opening

br05/br0512.gif When Partner opens with 1 Spade or 1 Heart the first priority of Responder is to raise that suit if he has trump support. There are four options :
  1. Pass with 3+ card trump support, but with only 5 points or less.

  2. Single raise with 3+ card trump support and 6 - 10 points.

  3. Jump raise with 3+ card trump support and 13 points or more.

  4. Raise to Game with 4+ card trump support, 6 - 9 HCPs and an unbalanced hand.
With 11 - 12 points and 3+ card trump support you need to bid an other suit first before you can raise Partner's suit (unless you previously passed when it was your turn to open). We deal with this situation in Lesson 7.

As soon as you realise that there is a trump fit (5 + 3 = 8) in the suit your Partner opened, and before you make a response : revaluate your hand and count shortage points instead of length points.

Here are some typical example hands.
In all cases your Partner made an opening bid of 1 Heart.
Your replies with the following hands are :


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Hand 7
With 3 Hearts you do have a trump fit (Partner must have at least 5 Hearts to open 1 Heart), but with only 5 points you should Pass.

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Hand 8
You have a trump fit in Hearts and 8½ points (including 1 shortage point for the doubleton in Clubs).
Single raise Partner's suit : 2 Hearts.

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Hand 9
You have a trump fit in Hearts and 15 points (including 1 shortage points for the doubleton Club).
Jump raise Partner's suit : 3 Hearts.

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Hand 10
You have a trump fit in Hearts and 20½ points (count 3 shortage points for the singleton Club).
Jump raise Partner's suit : 3 Hearts.
If Partner replies with 4 Hearts (showing a weak opening hand) : raise again to 6 Hearts.

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Alternatively you could jump raise directly to 6 Hearts after the 1 Heart Opening.
Partner will realise you must have at least 20 points, and bid 7 Hearts with a strong hand (17+ points).

However there is a danger here. If the total includes 4 or more shortage points the Opponents, unexpectedly, may well hold an Ace. To guard against such event the Blackwood Convention is often used.
Jump raising straight from 1 Heart to 6 Hearts cuts off this possibility, as the first Blackwood bid starts at 4 NT.



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Hand 11
You have 4 card trump support, an unbalanced hand and 6 - 9 High Card Points (7½ in this case).
The standard response is a Game raise of Partner's suit : 4 Hearts.

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Although your side in this case may have less than 26 points, the ruffing strength of this hand will usually bring home the contract.



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Hand 12
You have 3 card trump support and 12 points (including 1 shortage point for the doubleton Club).
With 11-12 points you can not raise partner's suit immediately, bid 1S first and plan to bid 3H at your next turn.

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BR 5.5 - Opener's Reply to suit Raises

When your Partner raises your opening bid of 1 Spade or 1 Heart you know that there is a trump fit in that suit.
The first thing you do (and before you reply with another bid) is to revaluate your hand using shortage point instead of length points and classify your hand :

  • with 13 - 15 points   =   minimum opening hand

  • with 16 - 18 points   =   strong opening hand

  • with 19 - 21 points   =   maximum opening hand

Here are the replies you make after the various raise responses by Partner.

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(Blackwood Convention)

Here are some typical examples.
In all cases you opened with 1 Heart.


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Hand 13
You have now 15 points (including 1 shortage point in Clubs) = a minimum opening hand.

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  • Pass if Partner made a single raise ---- 1H - 2H - Pass
    Together you have at the most 15 + 10 = 25 points, not enough for Game.

  • Bid Game if Partner made a jump raise ---- 1H - 3H - 4H
    If Partner has 18+ points he will invite to Slam by bidding 5H, if so you should bid 6H, as you have maximum points (15) within your range (13 - 15).

  • Pass if Partner made a Game raise --- 1H - 4H - Pass


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Hand 14
You have now 17 points (including 1 shortage point in Clubs) = a strong opening hand.

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  • Invite to Game if Partner made a single raise ---- 1H - 2H - 3H

  • Slam is possible if Partner made a jump raise ---- 1H - 3H - 4NT (Blackwood Convention)

  • Pass if Partner made a Game raise ---- 1H - 4H - Pass


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Hand 15
You have now 21 points (including 3 shortage points in Clubs) = a maximum opening hand.

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  • Bid Game if Partner made a single raise ---- 1H - 2H - 4H

  • Bid Small Slam or 4NT if Partner made a jump raise ---- 1H - 3H - 6H (or 4NT)

  • Pass or bid 4NT if Partner made a Game raise ---- 1H - 4H - Pass (or 4NT)


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BR 5.6 - Second bids by the Responder

In a few cases the Responder makes a second bid.
This is required when

  1. the Opener's second bid is an invitation to Game (3H, 3S) , to Small Slam (5H, 5S) or 4NT.
    The responder bids Pass with a minimum (within his range), or bids the target contract (Game or Slam) with average or maximum points within his range.

  2. or the Responder is very strong (17+ points) and in a position to bid 4NT (Blackwood) or Slam himself.
Here is a flow chart for the relevant bid sequences.

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It is not necessary to memorise the point ranges for all these bids.
Simply remember the ranges of the first response and the three ranges of the Opener's hand. Add your own points to Partner's range and assess the total with regard to Game (26 points) or Slam (33 points) requirements.


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BR 5.7 - Strategy in Trump contract Play

As soon as the Dummy hand goes down on the table Declarer starts to plan his strategy of play.
Instead of counting the sure winners (as in No Trump contracts), in Trump contracts :

  1. Count your possible losers.

  2. If there are too many losers : look for ways to reduce them.

  3. Generally draw Opponents trumps first, unless :

    1. you need to ruff losers with Dummy's trumps,
    2. you need Dummy's trumps as entry to Dummy, or
    3. Opponents hold the trump Ace, and you have to get rid of some losers before they gain the lead.

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Example 1 - the contract is 4 Spades
There are 4 possible losers :
  • None in Spades
  • One in Hearts (after the Ace has gone)
  • None in Diamonds
  • Three in Clubs
Declarer
- A Q 10 9 8 5
- A 4
- 5 3
- J 6 2
Dummy
- K J 7
- 7 6 5 2
- A K Q
- 9 7 5

The Opponents lead the King of Hearts. You win the first trick with the Ace.
Now first draw Opponents trumps (2 or 3 rounds of Spades), then play A K and Q of Diamonds, discarding the losing small Heart in Declarer's hand on the Diamond Queen from Dummy.
You will now only lose three tricks in Clubs, because all Hearts played by the Opponents can be ruffed with Declarer's trumps. You make 10 tricks.


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Example 2 - the contract is 4 Spades
There are 4 possible losers :
  • One in Spades (the Ace)
  • Two in Hearts (after the Ace has gone)
  • None in Diamonds
  • One in Clubs (the Ace)
Declarer
- Q 10 9 8 6 5
- A 4 3
- 5
- K Q 2
Dummy
- K J 7
- 7 6 5 2
- A K Q
- J 7 5

The Opponents lead the King of Hearts. You win the first trick with the Ace.
If you now draw trumps first they will gain the lead immediately with their trump Ace, then win the next two tricks in Hearts (Q and J) and the Ace of Clubs, and you have lost four tricks and the contract.

Therefore in this case before drawing trumps, play Diamonds A K and Q in Dummy and discard the two losing Hearts in Declarer's hand on the Diamond King and Queen.
Then you can draw Opponents trumps. After winning with the Spade Ace they can now only make the Ace of Clubs as all their Hearts can be ruffed in Declarer's hand. You make 11 tricks !


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Example 3 - the contract is 4 Spades
There are 4 possible losers :
  • One in Spades (the Ace)
  • One in Hearts (after the Ace and King)
  • One in Diamonds (after the Ace has gone)
  • One in Clubs (the Ace)
Declarer
- Q 10 9 8 6
- A 4 3
- J 2
- K Q 2
Dummy
- K J 7
- K 6
- A 7 4 3
- J 7 5 3

The Opponents lead the King of Diamonds. You win the first trick with the Ace.
You can reduce your losers by ruffing Declarer's third Heart in Dummy. However if you start drawing all enemy trumps immediately there will be no trumps left in Dummy to do so.

Therefore, before drawing trumps, lead the Heart King from Dummy at trick 2. Then a small Heart to Declarer's Ace. At trick 4 lead Declarer's remaining small Heart for a ruff in Dummy. This reduces the number of possible losers to 3 only and Declarer can now proceed with drawing the enemy trumps.


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BR 5.8 - Deals 5 to 8

Deals 5 to 8 cover bidding and play principles covered in this lesson.


   Easy to Remember
  • There are 52 cards in a pack

  • You need half the above number = 26 points for a Game contract in NT, H or S      

  • You need half the above number = 13 points to make an Opening bid

  • You need half the above number = 6 points to make a Response


BR 5.9 - Quiz 5 - Answers - Review

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Copyright © 2006-2011 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.