Modern bidding recognises the value of long suits , so add extra for length from the outset. Don’t add extra for short suits (singletons etc) until a fit has been found.
Open 1NT with 15 – 17 and a balanced hand as often as possible (and value length points). So14 with a five card suit is really 15. This hand ♠J97 ♥K8 ♦AQT76 ♣KJ5 has 14 high card points, but when you include something for the five card diamond suit, (one length point), you should upgrade it to 15. Open 1NT.
Do you open 1NT with a five card major? Yes. There’s preemptive value in opening 1NT, and the partnership rarely gets to the wrong contract, as most people are good at responding to 1NT.
Opening 1NT may also allow the stronger hand to be hidden, and it avoids the rebid problem on 2533 hands.
Say you open 1♥ on ♠94 ♥KJ875 ♦AJ8 ♣KQJ and partner bids 1♠, what next? All rebids are flawed. Better to open 1NT in the first place.
Opening one of a suit is still based on 13 points, but modern bidding recognises there’s more to hand evaluation than high cards. Two suited hands, and hands with a good long suit, will play better than balanced ones, so the Guideline of 20 works well in deciding whether to open borderline hands in first or second position. Add your high card points to the length of your two longest suits, and if the total is 20 or more, opening the bidding. ♠A10973 ♥KT952 ♦ K8 ♣ 6. There are 10 high card points, plus two five card suits (10 + 5 +5 = 20), so this hand is considered good enough to open 1♠
Other factors are: Aces and kings are more powerful than queens and jacks, and tend to be undervalued. 10’s and 9’s have no point count value, but they improve the trick-taking potential of the hand.
Honors working together in the same suit, such as ♥ K-Q-J are more powerful than unsupported honours in separate suits. However, the bottom line is: “Would partner also open this hand?” Both partners should have an expectation of what an opening bid of 1♣, 1♦, 1♥, or 1♠ shows.
In third position, when two players have passed, one of whom is your partner, it’s ok to open with a point or two less than in first or second position. But… always open a good suit, even if it’s only four cards (in a major). Your side may not win the auction, so your bid is lead-directing. Much better to open 1♠ on this hand than 1♣
♠AKQ10 ♥62 ♦753 ♣Q642
The strategy with borderline hands in fourth position is a little different. There’s the option of passing the deal out. So the bidding should only be opened with the intention of getting a plus score, either by bidding and making a contract or defeating the opponents if they compete. The guideline of 15 is useful here. Add your high card points to the number of spades. If the total is 15 or more, open the bidding. Otherwise consider passing the deal out. ♠8 ♥J52 ♦KQJ75 ♣AJ63 This hand would be opened 1♦ in first, second, and third seat, but in fourth, it may be better to pass the hand in. According to the guideline of 15, (12 high cards points + one point for the spade = 13, not the 15 required in fourth to open). The last thing you want to do is open a hand, and allow the opponents to find a spade partscure which will outbid you with the minors!
General guidelines for these weak bids with long suits are:
at the two-level, a good six-card suit (♠AK10942 ♥7 ♦1094 ♣852)
at the three-level, a good seven-card suit (♠AK109432 ♥7 ♦1094 ♣85)
The length and quality of the suit can vary with the vulnerability and the position at the table. When in favourable positions, be a little daring. ♠T83 ♥74 ♦62 ♣AQJ853If the bidding went pass, pass to this hand, and your side was not vulnerable, consider opening 3♣. It will put pressure on the fourth hand which is marked with a number of points, and use up bidding space.