Quick summary

Opener should tell partner what he has. But never break your barrier when you shouldn't. Otherwise:

With equal length, use denomination to select

The first of these, 5-5, shows the same pattern as 6-5, unless the long suit is the low ranking suit.

spadeheartdiamondclub

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Example Deal


«  0016  »

Hand evaluation. Showing shape

Beyond beginner - really tell your partner your shape

Showing shape with 5-5, 6-6, 6-5 hands

Most people soon learn how to show their partner a 5-4 shaped hand. (Bid the long suit first, followed by the shorter suit, not forgetting the effect of the barrier). But not everyone learns how to show these other shapes - in some ways much more useful shapes. They therefore sometimes deprive their partner of essential information needed to choose the right suit for trumps.

The basic pattern of bridge bidding is for each partner to use the first rounds to show shape until one partner has the data to make a decision. These first rounds of bidding reveal other things too, essentially strength. Once the shape has been established, the bidding can usually focus entirely on selecting the right level. With unbalanced hands it can take 3 bids to explain the hand pattern to your partner, even 4, assuming you have enough strength to keep the bidding going.

Let's call the higher ranking suit "High", and the lower ranking suit "Low" (HL), and the long suit "Long" and the shorter suit "Short" (LS). Imaginative. The bid order is as follows (but don't follow it slavishly if that would break your barrier inappropriately and therefore significantly mislead your partner. Instead, use the alternatives given):

16. Showing shape
Shape Bid order Alternative order Alternative if needed on <16pts
5-4 L-S L It may not always be possible to bid the shorter suit. With <16pts, do not break barrier, and do not bid at the 3-level.
5-4-4-0 L-S1(low)-S2(high) L
5-4-3-1 L-S L-RPM RPM: Raise Partner's Major with 3-card support. Failing that, rebid 5-card suit.
5-4-2-2 L-S bid NT if.. ..if 5-card is minor and power is in the doubletons
6-4 L-S-L L-L Bid alternative pattern also if short suit is a weak minor after strong Major
6-5 L-S-S   Note: this is the same pattern as 5-5, but only when the 6-card is higher ranking
Equal length suits Notes for suits of equal length
5-5 H-L-L   Higher ranking suit first
6-6 H-L-L-L X-5m A rebid straight to 5 of the minor also shows a 6-6 shape
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What about and 6-4 hands

You might want to show a second suit with 4-cards, and you should if you can. But no not break your barrier if you have fewer than 16 points ! That would be showing your partner a much stronger hand than you have. Instead, you will have to do something else: rebid your 6-card suit.

Also, if your 6-card Major is strong, and your 4-card minor is weak, you are better off simply repeating the 6-card Major anyway.

Quiz

A. With 4432 distribution, and the following two 4-card suits which would you bid first ?

  1. clubdiamond
  2. clubheart
  3. clubspade
  4. diamondspade
  5. heartspade

B. With 5521 distribution, and two 5-card suits, which would you bid first ?

  1. clubdiamond
  2. heartspade

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).

spadeheartdiamondclub

 

A). 1:C, 2:H, 3:S, 4:S, 5:H. B). 1:D, 2


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