Beginners essentials

As opener, bid your longest suits first.

4 cards is the minimum.

What counts is the number of trumps you have, more than how big they are. Your Aces & Kings will usually win whatever suit you chose as trumps.


Plan your second bid before making your first bid

With two 5-card suits

With two 4-card suits

Don't break barrier in new suit with 12-15 HCP

Go through barrier in new suit with 16+ HCP

Barrier definition:


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal

«  0613  »

Hand Evaluation. Selection of opening suit

By now, you've read that you should bid your longest suit first. But there are probably some other questions in your mind.

How many cards do I need?

Question: How many cards do I need in a suit to open the bidding in that suit ?

Answer: Four. 4. Quattro. Vier. 四. Quatre. Not 3, no matter how nice they all look.

It's better to have 5. Anyway, your partner is going to count on you to have a minimum of 4, and will make all his/ her calculations on the basis that you have been telling the truth. (In some bidding systems you can't even open the bidding in a Major suit unless you have 5 of them).

You've got 2 long suits ?

Suppose you have two long suits? Suppose the the slightly shorter one has many more points (Aces, Kings etc).

The rule is, always bid Longest suit first, then bid the Shorter one next. And you can even tell your partner, through your bidding pattern, exactly how many cards you have in each suit.

  • 5-4: bid LS, i.e. bid your Longer first, then the Shorter one
  • 6-4: bid LSL
  • 6-5: bid LSS

Two 5-card suits ?

Bid the highest ranked suit first. (spade is the highest ranking of all suits, club is the lowest).

When you have two 5-card suits, a very nice position to be in, you will be wanting to show them both to your partner. By bidding the highest ranking first, and rebidding the lower ranking second, you end up keeping the bidding at a lower level for further "conversation".

Two 4-card suits ?

Always open with the lower ranking. (Assuming you're not planning to rebid in NT to show you have a balanced hand).

That gives your partner a chance to bid his 4-card suit at the lowest possible level. He may not have the strength to be able to bid at the 2-level, so you might not find your 8-card fit if you bid the higher ranking suit.

Showing your partner how strong you are

If you have 12-19 points, you can open the bidding in a suit. But your bid is not very precise about your strength. The second bid will give the extra precision that your partner will need to assess what to do next. However, you have to plan your second bid before making your first bid.

The fundamental rule is: don't break barrier in a new suit unless you mean to.

  • with 12-15 HCP do not exceed the barrier if you are bidding a new suit
  • with 16+ HCP you must go through the barrier if you are bidding a new suit

Barrier definition: a rebid in same suit as your opening bid, at a level one higher.

  • E.g. If you open 1heart, your barrier =2heart

Some players with quite a lot of experience forget about this from time to time, even though it really is a fundamental principle. That's a pity, because they end up misleading their poor old partner about the strength of their hand.

5332 distribution ?

Open and then re-bid your 5-card suit. Or better (usually) use NT in some way to show you have a balanced hand.

4441 distribution ?

Open the suit below the singleton ..unless it's in Clubs, in which case bid 1heart. And it's quite a good idea not to open the bidding unless you have 13 points.

Worried you might forget all this ?

You can print the free crib sheet and keep it beside you as you practise.



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