Duplicate bridge results and tip: A reader asks about a weak-two opening bid

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By Val Rhead

One of our readers asks the following:  “My opening bid was a weak Two Hearts. My partner responded Three Hearts. I bid Four Hearts. Opponents all PASS. Then one of my opponents says I cannot bid Four Hearts and must pass Three Hearts. Is there a rule that I broke with this bidding sequence?”

From your description, you broke no rule. According to the Bridge Director’s Handbook by Larry R. Harris, the rule for a Weak-Two opening is that the opener must have at least five cards in the suit and a range of 5 to 12 high-card points. No deviation is permitted. There is no rule that the opener cannot bid again but there is a guideline.

There is a difference between rules and guidelines. In Bridge there are rules that you break at risk of penalty, and there are guidelines that you break at risk of getting a poor score! For Weak-Two bids, rules that must be followed are set by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). Guidelines are set by Bridge Teachers and other experts to help you make better bidding choices.

For example, the guidelines offered by the esteemed Canadian Bridge writer and teacher, Barbara Seagram, says that you may open a Weak-Two bid with 6 to 10 high-card points. She then adds two length points for the six card suit. That makes up a total of 12 points. She advises that your suit should contain two of the top three honours or three of the top five honours. She also states that the hand should not be opened with a Weak-Two bid if it also contains a four-card major, because you may miss a fit in one of the majors. These are all sensible guidelines, but they are not ACBL rules.

Now to answer our reader’s question. When a player opens Two Hearts and her partner responds Three Hearts, the responder is simply telling opener that he has at least three Hearts and not enough points to go to game.  This response at the three level is in accordance with the Bridge convention called “The Law of Total Tricks”, which is a guideline that says responder can safely bid up to the level of the total number of trump that the partnership has.  Now, this doesn’t guarantee that she is going to make the contract. Usually though, she will do better than letting the opponents have the contract. Be aware though, responder may have as few as zero points.  So it is certainly risky for the Opener to rebid Four Hearts.

If however, the responder has a good hand. He can take you to game by bidding Four Hearts. A good hand usually is about 16 points because the opener is bidding a Weak-Two. Remember, the opener is WEAK, and the responder needs more than a mere opening bid to bid game.

It is a good guideline to suggest that the Opener pass Three Hearts. However, the Opener isn’t breaking a rule by bidding game. Perhaps, she is not vulnerable and the opponents are vulnerable and competetive bidding has shown that the opponents have a strong hand in another suit. Opener may think that it is worthwhile to make a sacrifice bid of Four Hearts. Your bid is legal, but it may be unwise.

Thank you for your question.

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 include it in this column.

HUNTSVILLE DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB

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, Aug 14 with 23 pairs playing a Mitchell movement. North-South 1. Jim Smith and Ralph Mitchell; 2. Terry Killackey and Rod Dixon; 3. Vern Foell and John Reahder; 4. Diane Taylor and Martin Taylor; 5. Marilyn Waltho and John Waltho; 6. Art Insley and Don Evans; East-West 1. Ann Cassie and Bruce Cassie; 2. Liz Graham and Dorothy Russell; 3. Marjorie Clark and John Clark; 4. Gail Titus and Paula Coleman; 5. Josee Hammill and Andrea Killackey; 6. Liz Robinson and Bruce Robinson

MUSKOKA DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB (Bracebridge)

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 [email protected]

The following winners are from Monday, Aug 13 with 22 pairs playing a Mitchell movement.  North-South 1. Andrea Killackey and Judith Arbus; 2/3. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; 2/3. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 4. Kel Andresen and Jim Smith; 5. Lyn Walisser and Bev Howard; 6. Mary Mitchell and Susan Maddocks; East-West 1. Gail Lederer and David Bryce; 2. Linda Planeta and Margaret Sanderson; 3. Jennifer Thompson and Sheila Robinson; 4. Jinty Stewart and Jane Insley; 5 Pat Paterson and Tony Liming; 6. Anne Hampton and Bill Hampton

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