+ Find more deals illustrating this bidding subject

Quick summary

Balanced - be precise

You must always tell your partner exactly how many points you've got when you open with a balanced hand.

With 12-14 points, you need a single bid - 1NT.

With 15-19 you need two bids. First bid your longest suit. With a choice of 2:

Then bid NT on your second bid, at a level to show exactly where you are in the 15-19 range.

With 20+ you usually open with 2 of something, & you need one or two bids depending on your strength:

method A

method B (some more advanced players use Benjamised Acol with weak twos)

spadeheartdiamondclub

Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
+West
North
spade K Q 7 5
heart A Q 3
diamond K 10 3
club Q 10 9
+East
+South
Example Deal
Dealer: East
Vuln: NS


Opening 1 of a suit with limit responses in NT
Save in my favourites

Click the + buttons to peep

Click the + buttons to peep

Click the + buttons to peep

Click the + buttons to peep
+ < Click to show Bidding
WestNorthEastSouth

+ < Click for Opening Lead / Card Play

«  0021  »

Opening bid, Balanced Hand

You need to say "I'm balanced, and I have the following exact strength". Here's how:

21d. Balanced hand: Opener's bids. VERSION D: Recently upgraded ACOL
HCP Points Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid) note
12-14 1NT    
15-17 1 suit 1NT, or 2NT after a 2-over-1 response With two 4 card suits, bid heart if you have them. 2 NT is invitational.
18-19 1 suit 2NT, or 3NT after a 2-over-1 response 2NT is invitational. See sheet 21a below for an inferior but more conventional system, and 21d for a later preference.
20-22 2NT   Not forcing: partner might have 0-3HCP. Consider modified Acol instead, cribsheet 21b.
23-24 2club(1) Next NT bid (usually 2) 2club, if followed by 2NT is not forcing. Partner might have 0 HCP.
25+ 2club(1) Next NT bid + 1 (usually 3)  
Add to your customised cribsheet

You have to be precise about HCP with NT bids

For No Trumps, High Card Points (HCP) count is essential and must be precise(2). That's why you must stick to the 7 bands above, so your partner can accurately assess how far to take the bidding. (For unbalanced hands, HCP count is less important than for balanced hands. After all, a mere 10 points from 13spade will win all 13 tricks, provided Spades are trumps. But we'll talk about this later).

With 12-14 HCPs balanced hand, open 1NT. If your hand contains a 5-card suit:

  • with a 5-card minor always open 1NT, provided you satisfy the conditions for being balanced, of course.
  • if the 5-card Major is full of rubbish, certainly bid NT.
  • with a 5-card Major (heartspade), open 1NT unless your Major is strong enough to rebid. (E.g. with spadeAKJ108, you should be forgiven for opening and rebidding spade, even though your partner might be expecting a 6-card suit after the spade rebid).

When you have 15-19 points (see the chart above), how do you choose the suit to open the bidding, prior to your NT rebid? As usual in these matters, bid your longest. However:

  • If you have two 4-card suits, you should keep the possibility of a Major 8-card fit (heartspade) in the back of your mind, and thus bid heart if you have four heart. Otherwise bid your lower ("cheaper") suit.
  • If you have a 5-card minor clubdiamond, bid that first. 
  • If you have a 5-card Major heartspade….it gets a little more tricky. (Certainly if you have 54xx distribution, you do not have a balanced hand, and should be reading a different section!). Assuming a 5332 shape, if your strength is very concentrated in your Major suit, you might prefer to describe your hand as unbalanced, and bid the Major twice.

The chart above refers to a "weak NT" opening. The alternative "strong NT" system is also still popular in certain countries, and sometimes used in combination with "weak NT", switching to strong when vulnerable. The problem here is that it can go terribly wrong if your lovely partner forgets to swtich as the vulnerability changes. Or you, of course.

Opener's rebid, after 1NT opening

For beginners
When you opened 1NT with 12-14 points (a "weak No Trump"), your re-bid is almost always PASS.That's because you have already described your hand so well with the 1NT opening, that partner was often immediately able to say all that needs to be said.  Your partner has usually already made the choices with some kind of closing bid. Typically these closing bids are 2 of a suit to say "enough and no more", 3 or 4 of a suit with more strength, or NT if balanced.

The table above shows how to re-bid when you have more than 14 HCP, and a balanced hand of course.

The section "responses to 1NT" covers this subject in depth.

For better players
The range of responses from your partner to your 1NT opening is very flexible, descriptive and interesting, with several advantages, and it usually requires more bidding from you the opener. These include Stayman, Transfers, and Wriggling out of trouble when doubled. See "responses to 1NT" and "basic conventions" for the full list of options.

For more advanced players

The table of NT rebids is often modified by better players, to take account of different 2-level responses. For example:

  • after a 2diamond/club over 1 response, 2NT rebid promises 15-16HCP. That's because we know that responder has at least 9HCP, so 2NT shows total of 24/25+, inviting responder to choose game
  • after a simple raise, (e.g. 1spade to 2spade), a 2NT rebid promises 17-18HCP. That's because we know that responder has a maximum of 9HCP, so 2NT shows a minimum of 23/24, (with a maximum of 26/27), again inviting responder to choose game (in this case with 8 or 9HCP).


1 For advanced players using "weak 2s" in the Majors, bid 2diamond, instead of 2club.

2 With more experience, you can work out how to bend the rules.

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

Crib sheet: modified version

21c. Balanced hand: Opener's bids. VERSION C: A bit more sophisticated
HCP Points Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid) note
12-14 1NT    
15-16 1 suit 1NT, or 2NT after a 2-over-1 response With two 4 card suits, bid heart if you have them. 2 NT is invitational.
17-18 1 suit 2NT, or 3NT after a 2-over-1 response 2NT is invitational. See sheet 21a below for an inferior but more conventional system.
19 1 suit 3NT note: 25 HCP is certain. The re-bid is game forcing. Partner might convert to Major game.
20-22 2NT   Not forcing: partner might have 0-3HCP. Consider modified Acol instead, cribsheet 21b.
23-24 2club(1) Next NT bid (usually 2) 2club, if followed by 2NT is not forcing. Partner might have 0 HCP.
25+ 2club(1) Next NT bid + 1 (usually 3)  
Add to your customised cribsheet
21b. Balanced hand: Opener's bids. VERSION B: MODIFIED ACOL (Klinger)
HCP Points Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid) note
12-14 1NT    
15-18 1 suit Next available NT bid, usually 1NT, can be 2 With two 4 card suits, bid heart if you have have them. Note: don't jump rebid to 2NT with 17-18 points as convention dictates - you can end up in trouble.
19-20 1 suit Next NT bid +1, usually 2NT, can be 3 note: 25 HCP is certain. Game forcing. (19 in Standard Acol).
21-22 2NT   not forcing, partner might have nothing. (20-22 in Standard Acol).
23-24 2club(1) Next NT bid (usually 2) 2club, if followed by 2NT is not forcing. Partner might have 0 HCP.
25+ 2club(1) Next NT bid + 1 (usually 3)  
Add to your customised cribsheet
21a. Balanced hand: Opener's bids. VERSION A: STANDARD ACOL
HCP Points Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid) note
12-14 1NT    
15-16 1 suit Next available NT bid, usually 1NT, can be 2 With two 4 card suits, bid heart if you have them. Also, beware jump rebid to 2NT with 17-18 points as convention dictates - you can end up in trouble. See "Klinger" modification, 21b.
17-18 1 suit Next NT bid+1, usually 2NT, can be 3 Note the ambiguity. Bearing in mind that 3NT is game forcing, you might want to limit this bid to 2NT, and run the risk that your partner thinks you have 15-16 HCP. See sheet 21c for a better system.
19 1 suit 3NT note: 25 HCP is certain. The re-bid is game forcing.
20-22 2NT   Not forcing, partner might have <4HCP. Consider modified Acol instead, cribsheet 21b.
23-24 2club(1) Next NT bid (usually 2) 2club, if followed by 2NT is not forcing. Partner might have 0 HCP
25+ 2club(1) Next NT bid + 1 (usually 3)  
Add to your customised cribsheet

 


About us   Contact us     Terms & conditions of use      Log in      Comment on current page

© Bid and Made. Nothing on this website may be reproduced without written permission from Bid and Made. Just drop us a line, and we'll almost certainly say yes.