Lesson 3

Simple Opening Bids

The Auction begins with the dealer who has the option to open the bidding process. Depending on the points and shape of their hand they may decide to open the bidding or pass on the bid and let someone else open the bidding. The thing to remember about the auction is that you are trying to communicate with your partner and tell them all about your hand (without actually talking to them or giving them a wink - that's called cheating!)

So, let's take a look at what a simple opening bid could look like and what would determine what we would bid.

Note: This is the start of learning the bidding process and the lessons you learn here will be built upon and superceded as you learn more.

Let's take a look at our first hand:

We can see that his hand is a BALANCED hand and counting up the points we can see that we have 11 High Card Points (HCP).

In our simple convention we are going to introduce our first of our 6 basic rules.

We don't open the bidding unless we have at least 12 points.

This is regardless of whether the hand is Balanced or UnBalanced. So in this instance we would PASS.

This is important, as it tells our Partner that we have LESS than 12 HCP's. They will have points in their hand and now they know that you have less than 12. The conversation with your partner had started!

Let's look at the next hand.

This hand is almost identical to the first, except we now have the Queen of Spades rather than the 10. It's still a Balanced hand, but we now have 13 HCP.

This means we can open the bidding and introduce our second rule!

If the hand is BALANCED and we have between 12 and 14 points, we open 1NT.

This tells our partner two things. Firstly, the HCP range we have and secondly, that our hand is Balanced.

Next hand please!

This hand is a Balanced hand and has 15 HCP

So, with more than 14 points we are out of the 1NT rule and into our next rule.

If the hand is BALANCED and we have between 15 and 19 point, we bid our LONGEST suit.

In this case that would be Spades and we open at the 1 Level - 1Spade.

Now, looking at the hand you might be thinking "Hold on! Look at those lovely Hearts! Surely I bid them?"

It's certainly tempting to think that, but in Bridge the LENGTH of the suit is often more important than the STRENGTH, so if in doubt, always remember LENGTH OVER STRENGTH!

Also, what if you have 2 suits that are the same length? If that is the case the simple guideline at this level of play is to prioritise the suits Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades. (This will change from the next lesson!) So if you had the same number of Spades and Diamonds, you would bid the Diamonds. We'll cover this in more detail in future lessons.

Ok, let's take a look at a Unbalanced hand.

So, remembering our first rule, with only 9 HCP, we must PASS.

Hopefully a better hand is coming (as so many Bridge Players say to themselves!)

So, Unbalanced again, but this time we have 12 HCP. Unlike a Balanced hand, we don't want to open this in No Trumps. Unbalanced hands are much harder to make in a No-Trump contract. So in this case we have our rule number 4.

If the hand is UNBALANCED and we have between 12 and 19 point, we bid our LONGEST suit.

So, in this instance we would open with 1 Heart. This tells our partner we have at least 12 points if not more and a minimum of 4 Hearts in our hand.

But hold on...there is a possible 40 points in a pack of cards so it must be possible to have more than 19 points in your hand?

When you're lucky enough to be dealt one, then there are 2 more rules we apply.

Here we have been dealt a hand and a quick point count shows we have 21 HCP!

Time for our next few rules

The first step is to decide if the hand is Balanced or Unbalanced.

If it's Balanced with 20 to 22 HCP open 2NT

if it's Balanced with 23 or more HCP open 2Clubs

Unbalanced with 20 or more HCP open 2 Clubs

Here we have 20 HCP and we are unbalanced, so we open with 2Clubs

What? Hold on!? We only have 1 clubs in the hand and it's our shortest and weakest suit. What's going on?!

This is what is called an UNNATURAL bid in Bridge. It doesn't mean what it appears to say, but is code for something else.

We can also open with 2 Clubs with this hand..

Trying to keep a poker face (different game, but you don't want to be grinning away and give the game away to your opposition!), we tally up and find we have 24 points! Woohoo!

In this instance, it's telling our partner that we have at least 23 points in our hand, if not more.

So a 2 Club bid can mean one of two things, either we have 20-22 points and unbalanced, or 23+ points and balanced.

It all sounds quite sneaky, but your opposition will usually know what this means, so tells them too.

So, we now how basic rules. These rules, when grouped together are called our "Convention" and you can see a summary of our basic convention here.

You can use the button below to practise simple openings or move onto the next stage where we start to tweak the rules a little!