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Quick summary

Evaluate your hand carefully

Plan your second bid before you say anything.

With 12-19 points, you effectively start by saying “my longest suit is ‘x'


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Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade 9 6 4
heart J 8 6
diamond 8 6
club A Q 10 8 4
Example Deal
You: East
Dealer: North
Vuln: N-S

Opening 1 of a suit with limit responses in NT
Go to quiz (& full page) of deal # 126015

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- p p p
1S p ???

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«  0025  »

Opening bid, Unbalanced hand, 12-19 points

25. Unbalanced, Opening bid
HCPoints Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid)
12-19 A 5-card or 4 card suit. See "15. suit choice" Stay with this suit, if no other, or bid partner suit, or don't bid. See re-bid
Lots, plus 8 playing tricks(1) 2 of a suit. Not club. Forcing for one round.
(Advanced players can use “weak 2s”)
Bid naturally. 
23+ with 9 playing tricks 2club Forcing to game. (2) Longest suit.
reply reply to 1 suit, reply to Strong 2 openings
related stuff strong 2s, weak 2s, suit choice on re-bid
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Vital: plan your second bid before announcing your first

Assuming you want to be any good at bridge bidding, here's a golden piece of advice that you should take to heart:

Pay special attention to the second bid: that's where you will be imparting the more specific information your partner needs in order to assess your hand. Above all, you will need to decide in your mind what your second bid is likely to be before you make your first bid.

You see, the white band (in the table above which defines how you should open the bidding with an unbalanced hand) is 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).   

So, it's also important to tell your partner where you lie in this band.  (Or you might miss a game contract and all those lovely bonus points. That's the kind of mistake which most people prefer the enemy to make, not their partner).

How?  You will do this in your second bid, known as "opener's rebid".  The main point is that it's vital that you plan your re bid before you make your opening bid.  See Re-bid: Un-balanced hand. 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.

After your bid, you'll have to know how to interpret your partner's reply.

Opening with fewer than 12 points

With fewer than 12 points, you can sometimes open with the rule of 20.

With a 7-card suit and 6-10 points, see "Preemption" for a bit of fun.

For more advanced players only: use the "weak 2s" convention if you have 6-cards in certain suits and 6-10 points.

(1) Lots: 16-22. Playing tricks: How many tricks you can win on your own, based on discarding your losers. Eg. AKQ is 3.  AKJ is 2.  AKJ9 is 3, because after three rounds, you assume opponents are out of cards. Counting winners and losers:  In summary, look at the top three cards in each suit and see which will definitely win (“winners”), and count all others that you have in the suit as winners.  It's a tiny bit more complicated, since the queen alone can be only half, and the jack needs adjacent support.
However, more advanced players most often do not use this middle band of “strong 2's” for opening when they have strong unbalanced hands.  Instead, they use “Weak 2s”. (They only use Strong 2s for balanced hands in the 20-22 point band).

(2) Forcing to game: it does not mean "Clubs".

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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