Minor Suits Exist Too!

 

Lesson Notes

We try to play in major suit fits or no trumps these days (because they score more), but the minors (♦ & ♣) do exist, and an opening bid of 1♣/♦ covers a wide range of hand shapes (4+ diamonds, and 2+ clubs), and points (13 - 20). You need to take eleven tricks in 5♦ or 5♣ to score the game bonus (at 20 per trick). Opening 1♦ or 1♣ could show

  • an unbalanced hand with a long minor suit  or
  • a balanced hand that couldn't open 1NT (not 15 - 17) or
  • a hand that couldn't open 1♠ or 1♥ because there weren't five cards in those suits.

With hands that have enough points to open but don't qualify for 1NT and don't have five of a major, look for four or more diamonds and go for that. If you don't have four diamonds, open 1♣. The first priority on hands that are balanced and contain a five-card minor would be to open 1NT (15 - 17) not 1♦ or 1♣.

   ♠ 10 9 5                    ♠ 10 9 5                    ♠ A 10 9
   ♥ J 9 6                       ♥ J 9 6                       ♥ Q J 9
   ♦ A K 10 9                 ♦ A K 10                    ♦ A J 10 7 5
   ♣ K Q 6                     ♣ K Q 9 6                  ♣ K 6

   Open 1♦                   Open 1♣                   Open 1NT

Despite so much emphasis (too much) on the "short" club or "better" minor, most of the time when you open 1♣ there will be four+ cards in clubs. This is the most likely number, and next is five clubs, next is six clubs! and two or three  clubs occur only after that. So, don't worry too much about your partner's 1♣ opening being "short". If it is, it is.   

Which minor to open?

  • open your longer minor
  • with two four-card or five-card minors, open 1♦
  • with two three-card minors or three diamonds and two clubs, open 1♣

Responding to 1♦ or 1♣ Openings
The first priority is to bid a four + card major if we have one. Major suits score more than minors, and it's easier to make 4♥ or 4♠ than 5♦ or 5♣. If partner opened 1♦ and we held:

   ♠ J 10 9 8
   ♥ 4 2
   ♦ K Q 10 7
   ♣ 8 7 5
it would be best to bid 1♠, in case opener had a spade fit too. Opener could be:

   ♠ A Q 9 7
   ♥ 9 6
   ♦ A J 9 6
   ♣ Q 10 9
and the spade fit would be missed if responder showed diamond support first. Because a change of suit is forcing, partner can't leave us in 1♠, and will bid something else if there isn't a spade fit. Then the diamond fit will be found, or the hand will be played in no trumps. So no need to worry.

With no four card or longer major to bid, responder's next priority is to bid no trumps with a balanced hand. Ranges for no trump responses to 1♦ or 1♣ openings are: 

  • 1NT =   6-10 points 
  • 2NT = 11-12 points
  • 3NT = 13-15 points

With none of the above, raise partner's minor. These will be unbalanced hands, because it's preferable to respond in no trumps when balanced. 

  • Raise to the two-level with 6 - 9 points (1♣/♦ p 2♣/♦)
  • Raise to the three- level with 10 - 12 points (1♣/♦ p 3♣/♦)

Responder needs five+ card support to raise a 1♣ opening, and four+ card support to raise a 1♦. There are other bids available with less support. There's no bid for a game-force raise of opener's minor suit, unless you play Inverted Minors. (see Bonus Tips).

When opener bids 1NT and you have a minor suit (even six cards), if your hand is otherwise balanced, don't bother to show the minor (e.g. with the hand below) just go straight to 3NT. It's preferable to play there than 5♣/♦, and you give less information to the opponents. 

   ♠ K 6
   ♥ Q J 3
   ♦ A J 10 9 5 3
   ♣ 9 5

Don't rebid your minor suit as opener unless you have six+ cards in it. 

   ♠ K 3 2                                                            ♠ K 3 2
   ♥ 10 9                                                             ♥ 10 9 3
   ♦ A K J 10 6 3                                                  ♦ A K J 10 6
   ♣ 10 2                                                             ♣ 10 2
   Open 1♦ intending to rebid 2♦                     Open 1♦ intending to rebid 1NT


PLAY HandS

After you have played the hand, watch the walkthrough video.  Click on the little box icon in the menu to change the video to full screen.

Practise the hand from this lesson's main video here.


Bonus tips 

Inverted Minor Raises

They're called “inverted” raises because the meaning of two bids is reversed. 1♣/♦ p 2♣/♦ become 10+ points instead of 6 - 9, and 1♣/♦ p 3♣/♦ becomes the weak raise (6 - 9 points). Why? Because 1♣/♦ p  3♣/♦ (showing 10 - 12) takes up too much space when deciding whether 3NT is the correct contract.

1♣/♦ p 2♣/♦ is now forcing  either to game (or to 3 of the minor) as it defines one of 2 possible hands. The idea is to avoid the dreaded 3NT contract where the opponents take the first five heart or spade tricks when you have 11 tricks in the minor. With the hands below:
 North (Dealer)                   South
   ♠ A 10 9                             ♠ J 7 6
   ♥ K 10 9                             ♥ Q 2
   ♦ Q 2                                  ♦ A J 9
   ♣ K J 10 9 8                        ♣ A 7 6 5 4

North opens 1♣ and South bids 2♣ (inverted) and forcing. North now shows stoppers in the majors by bidding one or the other, rebids 2NT with any minimum hand with both majors stopped. What constitutes a major stopper? 10xxx or Qxx are the minimum values for bidding the suit, but ideally KJ10, AQ10. There will be a lesson on Inverted Minor Raises soon. Stay tuned.  


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