Source: Opening bids are the foundation on which subsequent bidding is laid. If the foundation is unstable, the rest of the auction may come tumbling down. I often see players lay an unsound foundation holding 4 diamonds and 5 clubs. Responder Spade Suit KQxxx Heart Suit Axxx  xx  xx Opener Spade Suit x Heart Suit Kxx  Axxx  KQTxx Auction 1 — 1Spade Suit 2 — 2 P How could this silly contract have been avoided?
Andrew Gumperz
Andrew Gumperz
Perhaps responder was wrong to correct 2 to 2. The result would have been better if responder had passed, but how can responder know? Opener would have bid the same if the minors had been reversed. For that matter, when opener bid 2, he might still hold 17 HCP. Passing then would miss an easy game. No, we can not blame responder for this debacle. The culprit is a system which asked us to open in our second best suit. A better solution is to open 1 with 5-clubs and 4-diamonds and 11-14 HCP. 1 leaves you well placed over:
  • 1 or 1Heart Suit, you will raise
  • 1NT, you will takeout to 2
  • 2 (inverted raise), you will splinter to 3Spade Suit
However, partner is most likely to respond in our singleton. What happens then? 1 — 1Spade Suit ? Opener must choose between 1NT or 2. Yes, either is a distortion, but they are distortions that cost less in the long run than the distortion of opening in your second best suit which frequently gets to the wrong strain. If opener rebids 1NT, a sensible contract is reached routinely.
Responder Spade Suit KQxxx Heart Suit Axxx  xx  xxOpener Spade Suit x Heart Suit Kxx  Axxx KQTxx 
1    —   1Spade Suit 1NT  —  2Heart Suit
Why did this auction work so much better? When opener rebid 2 in our first example, he precludes finding a fit in hearts (the fourth suit) unless responder is strong because a 2Heart Suit call becomes 4SF. But when he makes the limited 1NT response he shows his point range, allowing responder to recognize immediately that game is out of the question, and he causes responder’s 4th suit call to become natural and NF, giving the partnership an easy out into a fine contract.
Any time that you hold a singleton and a minimum opening bid, you must also consider what happens if the opponents are rude enough to enter your auction. WIll auction 1 or auction 2 get you to a better contract?
Responder Spade Suit xxxx Heart Suit Axx  Kxx  xxx
Opener Spade Suit x Heart Suit Kxx  Axxx  KQTxx
Auction 1
1 — (2Spade Suit) — P — ( P ) X  — ( P ) —  ?
Auction 2
1 — (2Spade Suit) — P — ( P ) X  — ( P ) —  ?
Auction 2 will find your 8-card club fit. Auction 1, your tenuous 7-card diamond fit.
When holding 5-clubs and 4-diamonds and a minimum opening hand (11-14 HCP) plan your auction before choosing an opening bid. 
  • With 2-2-4-5 shape, I normally open 1 planning to rebid 1NT when partner bids 1M.
  • With 3-1-4-5 shape, I normally open 1 planning to rebid:
    • 1NT if partner bids my singleton
    • 2M if partner bids my 3-card suit major
    • 2 if partner responds 1NT

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