Beginners essentials

2 bids needed

Tell your partner which are your best suits, and how strong you are.

With 12-19 points, you should open with 1 of suit, of at least 5-cards.

Rebid with a 4-card suit if you have one, or rebid your first suit if not.

Use your rebid to tell your partner how strong you are

. . .but careful as you get more advanced. You'll need to read about your "barrier".

You can't usually bid NT on your rebid, since might tell your partner that you are balanced.


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
+ West
spade A J 10 8 3
heart A 10 3
diamond K Q 5 4
club 6
+ East
+ South
Example Deal
Dealer: North
Vuln: NS

Opening 1 of a suit with limit responses in NT

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«  0622  »

Opening bids. Unbalanced

Vital: plan your second bid before announcing your first

If you've understood the chapters on "Evaluating Your Hand", then this bit is really easy.

Let's say you've evaluated your hand, and you now know that you are unbalanced, with 12-19 HCP. You must now tell your partner this, along with two other things

  1. more information on the length of your suits
  2. whether you have specifically either 12-15, or 16-19 HCP

You can accomplish these 2 tasks as described below, using two bids (you'll need to open the bidding in the first round, then if your partner says something, make a second bid).

  • To communicate the first piece of information: bid your longest 5+ card suit in the first bid, and then, on the next round, either repeat the suit if you have no other, or better still bid a second suit if you have one with 4+ cards.
  • Accomplish the second task by choosing a different level of bidding for your second bid. With 12-15 points, bid at the lowest level available, e.g. 1heart, after an opening bid of 1club and a reply of 1diamond from partner. With 16-19 points you should bid at one level higher e.g. 2heart instead of 1heart, after an opening bid of 1club and a reply of 1diamond from partner.

But beware if you are are rebidding the same suit you opened with. With 16-19 points, you'll need to have a 6-card suit if you want to re-bid at the higher level. For example, after an opening bid of 1heart and a reply of 1spade, you'll need a 6-card suit to rebid 3heart. With only 5-cards you should rebid 2heart, even if you have 16-19 points.

Improving players should read about "breaking your barrier".

Why it's so important

You see, it's one of the most common of all the first bids. You can and must open with 12-19 points. Now that's a wide band, extending from 12 HCPs (the weakest normal opening), all the way to 19 (which will often be strong enough for game and sometimes even slam).   But your partner will not have a very accurate idea of how strong your hand is.

So, it's also important to tell your partner where you lie in this band. 

Summary of how: The key is your second bid, the opener's rebid which you really must plan before you make your opening bid.  See Opener's re-bid: the general idea. For your first bid, you must of course also choose an opening suit. This choice is important, so there's a whole page on the subject.

Not No Trumps

Unless your partner bids NT, you can't bid NT on your second bid because that would tell your partner that you have a balanced hand, which you don't.

After your first bid, although you will have planned your second bid, you'll have to know how to interpret your partner's reply, since that will of course influence what you say.

What if I'm unbalanced, but I've got 20 points or more?

Well, then you have a strong hand, and you should try to tell your partner right away, since you don't want him to pass. In general, that means you should open at the 2 level, i.e. by opening the bidding with "2" of a suit.

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).




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