Strong Unbalanced Hands
Sometimes a hand is too strong to open at the one level because if you do, you risk partner passing with fewer than six points. You need partner to bid even if they have nothing, because you might make game almost on your own. Hands as strong as this don't come up a lot, but when they do, start the bidding with 2♣. It's code to tell partner you have a very strong hand. The hand may or may not contain clubs
Deciding whether to open a hand 2♣ is not related to points only, but you need at least 18 high card points and four or fewer losers. Consider the playing strength of the hand and also the quick tricks.
How do I count losers?
If you're missing any of A, K & Q in any suit, count that as a loser. NB: Shortage reduces losers.
AKxxx = count one loser (Q missing)
Kxxx = count two losers (A & Q missing)
Qx = count two losers (A & K missing)
AQx = count one loser (K missing)
xxxx = count three losers (A, K Q missing)
Deciding whether to open Two Clubs
If your quick trick count is greater than your loser count, open Two Clubs. If not, open at the one-level.
What are Quick Tricks (QT) and Losers (L)?
AK = 2 quick tricks
AQ = 1 1⁄2 quick tricks
A = 1 quick trick
KQx = 1 quick trick
Kx = 1/2 (half) a quick trick
1. ♠AK874 ♥K4 ♦A98 ♣AK4 This hand has five and a half quick tricks and five losers. Open 2♣
2. ♠AKQ9876 ♥AK86 ♦8 ♣4 This hand has four quick tricks and three losers. Open 2♣
3. ♠6 ♥AKJ98765 ♦ AQ8 ♣A4 This hand has four and a half quick tricks, and four losers. Open 2♣
NB: If the above is too hard, forget about it, but don't open a hand 2♣ unless you have a very good 18+ points and three losers or fewer.
A 2♣ bid is forcing. As responder, make a waiting response of 2♦, unless you hold a good five+ card suit with at least an ace and a king (a "positive"), This leaves room for opener to describe their hand.
Positive bids - 2♥, 2♠, 3♣ or 3♦ promise five+ card suits with two of the top three honours. 2NT or 3NT shows 8-10, or 11+ points, without a five-card suit.
Partner opens 2♣ to you:
Hand 1 Hand 2
♠ K107652 ♠ KQJ1097
♥ 63 ♥ 6
♦ 7 ♦ 75
♣ 9863 ♣ K863
Respond 2♦ on Hand 1 intending to bid spades later if possible. On Hand 2 respond 2♠ to show a good five+ card suit and more than 7 points (a positive).
Once a trump suit has been agreed, normal slam bidding methods – Blackwood and Cue Bids – (see next lessons) come into play.
To raise partner’s suit is forcing, so responder can show support with a very weak hand by jumping straight to game. This is called the principle of "fast arrival”, i.e. in a game force auction, the faster game is reached, the weaker is responder’s hand. Conversely, the better the hand, the slower the bidding will be, because there's more to describe about the two hands.
Looking for more information? These books will help you learn the basic skills required to play bridge.
Test your knowledge
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