Duplicate bridge results and tip: Borderline hands in fourth seat



By Val Rhead

The bidding has gone, Pass, Pass, Pass. You are in fourth seat with a borderline hand. What do you do? If you Pass, everyone receives the same zero score. That is not necessarily a bad thing. If you bid and go down, your score will be a minus score of 50 or 100 or more. Zero is preferable to a minus score.

The danger in bidding borderline hands in fourth seat is that the opponents, if you give them the opportunity, may bid a higher-ranking suit and find a makeable contract. In that case, your safe score of zero becomes a minus score. However, sometimes you are able to make a useful bid on a borderline hand in fourth seat. To do this, you use the Rule of Fifteen. You total your high-card points and add them to the number of Spades in your hand. If the total is at least 15, you should open.

For example, you are in fourth position with a hand such as:  xx  AQxx  KQxx xxx (eleven high-card points and just two Spades.) This gives you a total of 13 points—not enough – just Pass. If you open One Diamond, the opponents, who may also have a borderline hand, may be able to find a successful One-Spade or Two-Spade contract giving you a minus score. In this case, a Pass for zero would have been a safer bid.

If however, your hand is:  AQxx xx AJxxx xx (eleven high-card points and four Spades), when you add together your high-card points and the number of Spades, the total is 15. Go ahead and bid One Diamond. Partner probably will respond and you could always re-bid Spades. If the opponents compete and bid One Spade or Two Spades, you are in a good defensive position to defeat their contract and get a plus score.

In any other seat than fourth seat, a hand with a suit such as the AKJT76 in Hearts, and nothing else, would merit a Two-Heart opening. Weak-Two bids are preemptive bids. Players are overbidding primarily to interfere with their opponent’s bidding. But, in fourth seat the opponents already have passed, so you don’t need to interfere. For this reason, Weak-Two bids are not used in fourth seat.

For example: If you have 10 points with four Spades and six Diamonds just Pass for a zero score. If you have a hand with 12 or more good points (no worthless doubletons, et cetera) with five Hearts, then open Two Hearts in fourth seat instead of One Heart. Bidding Two Hearts makes it very difficult for the opposition to compete because neither opponent has a good hand. (Your partner must inform your opponents that this Two-Heart bid is a full opening).

The opponents are unlikely to intervene successfully at the two-level or three-level when they have passed already in the first round. Your partner probably will be able to respond because the points usually will be distributed fairly evenly around the table. You are free then to bid your way to a successful part-score or game contract. If the opponents get into the act with a Spade bid, you have a good defensive hand.

To conclude, the next time you’re in a Pass, Pass, Pass situation, one option is to bid an opening strong Two-bid (12 to 21 points). (A Two-Club bid will have to be an exception. It will still retain its status as a strong 22 point or more demand bid.) Otherwise, open with a One-bid after adding up your high-card points plus your Spade holding. If you have at least 15, give the Rule of Fifteen a try.

If you wish to promote an activity in your bridge group or ask a bridge question, send the information to [email protected] and I will try to include it in this column.


Games are at the Active Living Centre on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room on the 2nd floor (elevator) at the back entrance of the Canada Summit Centre. Just come – with or without a partner.

For information, please contact Donna or Peter Tikuisis at 647 471 1774 or [email protected].

For now, this game will be played following Chicago Rules (allowing both fast and slow games). You will keep your same partner for the entire evening. Cost is $1.50 per person. Parking is outside the North Entrance opposite Heritage Village Railway Station.


Games for the Port Carling Social Bridge Club are Monday afternoon 1pm at the Port Carling Community Centre, 3 Bailey Street. Please arrive with your partner at least 10 minutes before game time.

For information, contact Andree or Scott 705-764-3827 [email protected]


Games for the Huntsville Club are Tuesday evening 7:00, Trinity United Church 33 Main Street. Please arrive at least 15 minutes early. Contact Jan Roberts 705-635-2522 or [email protected] for information and partnerships.

The following winners are for Tuesday, Nov 27 with 9 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Fay MacDonald and Helen Pearson; 2. Mary Simonett and Kel Andresen; 3. Liz Barnes and David Bryce; 4. Joanne Garvey and Liz Graham; 5. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst


Games for the Bracebridge Club are Mondays 7pm, Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Taylor Road. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time. For information or partnerships, call Brian at 705-645-5340 or email [email protected]

REMINDER: Dec 3 is our Christmas Party at the Golf and Curling Club 5pm

We will return to Knox Presbyterian Church for our bridge game at usual time 7pm.

The following winners are from Monday, Nov 26 with 16 pairs playing a Mitchell movement. North-South 1. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; 2. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 3. Carol Anne Robinson and Nancy Barber; 4. Barb Forth and Vern Foell; East-West 1. Liz Barnes and David Bryce; 2. Val Rhead and Joanne Garvey; 3. Kathy Kent and David Kent; 4. Art Insley and Don Evans

Looking for more bridge tips? You’ll find them here.

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