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WHEN IS A HAND GOOD ENOUGH TO OPEN?
1. Most bridge players utilize high-card point count (HCP) plus distributional count to necessarily total an approximate 13‑14 cumulative count in order to qualify for a safe, valid, disciplined and productive opening bid.
EXAMPLES: AKXX KXX QJXX XX (Open ID) AQXXX KQXX X QX (Open 1S)
2. Some utilize the suit quality test (SQT), (The summation of the number of cards within the projected suit to be bid added to the number of honors within the suit) the numerical summation of which must be equivalent to or exceed the number of winning tricks to which one is committed by their proposed projected bid. Most recognize that the suit quality test is best utilized when deciding if a suit qualifies for an overcall, or when considering a weak pre‑emptive opening call.
(a) AKXXX QXX X KXXX (Open 1S)
(b) KQXX QXXX KX QXX (Do Not Open)
(c) XX AQXXX AXXX XX (Overcall 1H)
(d) JXXXX KXX X AXXX (Do Not Overcall 1S)
(e) AQXXXX XX X XXXX (Pre‑Empt 2S)
(f) JXXXXX XX AOX XX (Do Not Pre‑Empt 2S)
3. Some look towards loosing trick count (LTC) which by rights is not fully valid until a suit fit between. the partners has been achieved and is of little value and relatively meaningless in No Trump contracts. Using this technic, one looks for any hand with 7 or fewer losing tricks to qualify for an opening one of a suit.
EXAMPLES: AKXXX AX QX XXXX (Open 1S) KJXXX AXX KXX XX (Do Not Open)
4. Still others, in borderline situations, stay clear of opening any suit which would be an embarrassment should the partnership wind up on defense and partner were to hypothetically lead towards that holding; i.e., only open a suit which can justifiably be lead into on defense.
EXAMPLES: XXXXXX AQX AQX X (Do Not Open 1S) AKXXX XXX AJX XX (Open 1S)
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All of the above indicators are helpful, and when used in combination of two or more criteria towards the decision as to whether or not to open any particular hand, assist the would‑be opener in making a winning decision. NO SINGLE INDTCATOR GUARANTEES THE VALIDITY OF ANY BORDERLTNE OPENING SCENARIO. In addition, those factors governing whether or not one should open, no matter what single or multiple criteria are used, must be altered dependent upon which of the four seats about the table one occupies. The best criteria, seats one through four, are next presented.
1st (Dealer) or 2nd Position Opening Criteria
The RULE OF 20: This rule states that a hand qualifies for an opening bid of one of a suit, in the first or second position, if the summation of HCP's plus the total number of cards in the two longest suits equals or exceeds the number 20. This Rule of 20 is applicable only for use in the first or second seat. It should not be used in third or fourth seat decision-making process regarding opening the bidding under any circumstances.
EXAMPLES: KXXXX QXX AQXX X (20) (Open 1 S)
XX AXXXXX AKXX X (21) (Open 1 H)
KXXX AXX QXXX QX (19) (Do not open)
Remember, however, the weaker a partnership allows itself to open, the more on guard opener must be to offset his/her partner's responsive actions, and, likewise, the more cautious responder must be in responding. Should opening partner decide to double for penalties in a competitive auction, for example, opener might decide to pull partner's double by bidding one level higher in the agreed‑upon suit rather than sit for the questionable penalty double based, in part, on the pre-supposed undervalued opening bid. In a similar context, if invited to game, opener must turn down the invitation evidencing his/her holding which, in reality, is weaker than pre-supposed by partner.
1. All Hands having 13 HCP’s or more will automatically satisfy the Rule of twenty since
they can have no fewer than 7 additional points resulting from seven (7) cards in two of the
suits held if the hand (worst case scenario) is evenly divided 4-3-3-3.
1. Most hands holding 12 HCP’s (exclusive of a 4-3-3-3 distribution) with also qualify under the Rule of twenty, for exclusive of the 4-3-3-3 scenario they will hold no fewer than 8 additional points resulting from the count of the cards in the two longest held suits.
2. All 11 HCP hands (see the example below) which have a 6-card suit will satisfy both the ability to open under the rule of twenty calculation, but, they will also qualify as to the credentials necessary to open a weak 2-bid. In this instance it is recommended that if the 6-card suit be Spades, one would fare best, since it be the controlling suit, to open 1 Spade. If the suit is Clubs, one cannot open a weak 2C bid because it would be perceived as a
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strong call, and should not open 3C since the suit is only a 6-card and not a 7-card suit. One should, therefore, open 1C with intent to rebid 2C at opener’s turn to rebid. If the suit is either Hearts or Diamonds, however, it is calculated to statistically be best to open a weak 2H or 2D opening call.
AKXXXX AXX XX XX (Open 1 Spade)
XX KJX XX AKXXXX (Open 1C with intent to rebid 2C)
XX AQXXXX KQX XX (Open 2H)
XXX KJX AKXXXX X (Open 2D)
4th Position Opening Criteria
The Rule of 15: In 4th position relative to the dealer; i.e., there has already been three successive passes by the dealer and the next two players, this player holds a unique distinction in that he/she holds singular power as to whether the hand gets passed out or not, and whether or not any score, plus or minus, by either side is created. In this seat alone, one should use The Rule of 15. This rule states that a hand qualifies for an opening bid of one of a suit, in the fourth (last) position, if the summation of HCP's plus the total number of cards in the Spade suit equals or exceeds the number 15. Since Spades is the controlling suit, the more physical Spades one owns, the less likely the opponents can enter the same auction competitively at the same level opener would be willing to bid. The Rule of 15 is applicable only for use in the last seat. It should not be used in the first, second, or third seat decision-making process as to whether or not to open the bidding.
EXAMPLES: XX QXXX AQXX AXX (14) (Do not Open)
XXX QXX AQXX AXX (15) (Open 1D)
3rd Position Opening Criteria
Third seat opening criteria, like the other three seats, is unique unto itself. One must remember that it is generally, universally, considered feasible to lower the point count requirements for 3rd seat openings of one of a suit. Accordingly, it is important for the partner of the 3rd seat would-be opener (the previously passing 2nd seat player) to be able to ascertain whether or not the 3rd seat opener has a full opening count, else a lighter than full count, especially if the 2nd seated player has a near opening count himself/herself. It is, therefore, recommended that if one does indeed choose to open light in the 3rd seat, one must only open with a hand that can be passed by any bid made by Responder, and that if the 3rd seat opener has a full opening count, that he/she promises a rebid to verify same.
EXAMPLES: X JXXX AQXX AXX (Do not Open – One cannot afford to
pass a likely Spade Response from partner, yet if opener were to rebid 1NT, he/she would evidence a full opening count by this rule, therefore pass and do not open.)
XXX JXX AQX AXX (Open 1C – With this holding, one can
clearly afford to pass 1D, 1H, 1S, 1NT
or even a 2C response from partner.