Quick summary

4441 - Suit below singleton, & not Spades

You've got a singleton and three 4-card suits...

Make sure you have a 2nd bid if partner replies in the singleton. If you don't - pass, then bid later maybe.

Partnership Choice 1. Open the suit below your singleton, not above (avoiding for example the problem of a 2diamond reply to your opening 1heart bid).

Choice 2. RBBM. Same as method one, but bid diamond if the singleton is in spade.

When overcalling, you can simply double (even if the enemy's suit is not your singleton).


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«  0017  »

Hand evaluation. 4441 distribution

4441 Distribution. Oh dear

How on earth to bid ?

Let's say you have opening points. But which suit to bid ?

You can't bid 1NT, because you have a singleton, and so your hand isn't balanced. But which suit to bid ? What will you do when your partner responds with your singleton suit, as often happens ?

Somehow you've got to avoid misleading your partner. Bidding one suit, then another, promises a 5-4 distribution, which you don't have. Bidding one suit and then re-bidding it promises 5 or even 6, depending on your partner's agreed preferences. Either way, your goal is to mislead your partner the least.

All a bit of a problem. Here's solution method one, a simple convention to remember.

1. Select the suit below your singleton, unless your singleton is in clubs, in which case choose heart.

You then hope that your partner has 4 card support, or will identify another 4 card suit that you can support.

The idea of this and other systems is to avoid rebid problems. If you were to open 1heart with a singleton Diamond you'd be in a fix if partner responds 2diamond. Better to open 1club.

What you must be prepared for is your partner bidding the same suit as your singleton, which of all the responder's suit bids is the most likely. This means: check that you have a descriptive and sound rebid available in case it happens: a bid that leaves you in the best position should this happen. If you don't have this, then just pass on the opening round, and either come in later or opt out of the auction.

2. "RBBM" (Red Below, Black Middle).

The EBU Acol file advises RBBM. With a red suit singleton open the suit below the singleton (i.e. singleton Heart open 1diamond, singleton diamond open 1club). With a black suit singleton open the middle of the three suits (i.e. singleton Spade open 1diamond, singleton club open 1heart). Whichever convention you use, it's obviously a good idea to pre-agree all this with your lovely partner.

How else to remember RBBM ? Either..

It's the same as "1. a simple convention" method, except where the singleton is in Spades. In that case, the RBBM method proposes diamonds, rather than Hearts.


If the singleton is a Major, open diamond diamonds. If it's a minor then open one suit below, or open Hearts if the singleton is in the lowest suit (Clubs).

  • The system also allows partner to work out that you have a 4441 hand, and not a 54 hand, since rebids of a different suit cannot always otherwise make sense. e.g. 1S, 2x guarantees 5 Spades guarantees a 5-card suit since no 4441 hand can open with Spades. e.g. 1H, 2C guarantees a 5-card Heart suit after a Spade reply since a 4441 hand would support spades on the rebid after a 1H opening, since the singleton must be in Clubs. And so on.
  • This points to an advantage of the RBBM system: by keeping your bidding to the lowest level in all cases, you allow more flexibility on the rebid.

If you are in the Overcall position:

The best thing is this: if the opposition have already opened the bidding, ideally in the same suit as your singleton, then you can "double for takeout". Your bid ends up being perfectly descriptive, especially if your opening points high cards are spread across the three 4-card suits.

Actually, with a well spread hand as just described, you can still "double for takeout" even if your singleton is not in the suit that the enemy have bid. If partner bids your singleton you can then convert to No Trumps.

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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