Sunday, March 26, 2017

Balancing No Trump

Bidding a No-Trump call in the balancing (4th) seat means different things when made at different levels and under varying circumstances.

      1.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                
            1-of-any-suit        Pass              Pass                          1-NT
                 North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                
           1-of-any-suit         Pass              Pass                          1-NT
              A 1-NT bid in the balancing seat, by either a non-passed hand or by a previously-passed hand, both show 11-14 HCP’s, an evenly-balanced hand, and a desired, but not mandatory, stopper in the suit bid made by Opener. 

       2.        North               East             South             West (Balancing Seat)                                                
             1C/1D/1H           Pass              Pass                          Double
                 Pass             1D/1H/1S        Pass                            1-NT

             A 1-NT re-bid in the balancing seat, by a hand which previously made Take-Out Double shows a strong, balanced holding (15-17 HCP’s), a lack of support for Responder’s bid suit, and at least one stopper in Opener’s bid suit; i.e., a strong 1-NT opening.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Responding to 2 CLUBS

Responses to 2 CLUB Opening Bids by Partner
By Pam Earle

MDBC members play four different systems in response to partner's opening bid of 2 . The first two systems (I will call A1 and A2) both indicate information about the responder's suits and tell the opener if they have a bust*. The next two systems (B1 and B2) both designate information about either point count or numbers of aces and kings in responder’s hand but says nothing about the responder’s suit.

After an opening 2 bid by partner – responder bids 2 of any suit
that they have five cards, with at least two of the top three honors.
Otherwise, they bid two (waiting) which says nothing about the DIAMOND suit. After openers response, a bid of 3 by responder
says I have a bust*. All other bids (except 2 followed by
three) are natural.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rule of 20/22

Rule of Twenty Revised

Larry Cohen’s Thoughts:

I think the Rule of 20, is a good guideline, especially for newer players. It gives an immediate (and easy) ballpark estimate of what is or isn't an opening bid. However (and Marty would be the first to agree), it is just "general advice." It is not to be followed religiously. There are many tiny outside factors which need to be considered, such as:

1) Spot cards (especially 10's and 9's).
3) Points in long suits (
♠A Q 10 7 5 A 10 9 6 5  43  ♣2 is much better than   ♠8 6 5 4 2  9 7 6 5 4  AQ  ♣A.)

4) Short honors should be discounted a bit (such as singleton kings or doubleton queens or jacks).
5) Suits such as AJ10 or AQ10 are worth more than their point count, especially if accompanied by length.

Some writers have carelessly debunked the Rule of 20. What they really mean to say is that the Rule is a good basic starting point, but can use some fine-tuning.

 Jerry Helms’s thoughts:

The rule of twenty is attributed to Marty Bergan and is intended as a method to determine whether to open hands with marginal high card strength in first and second position. Bergan expected players to use some judgment, but many simply adopted the “rule” in its simplest form and abused the concept. Using the rule of 20, add the high-card points to the number of cards in the two longest suits and if the total equals 20 or more, you have an opening bid. As is frequently the case, blind adherence to rules can be a mistake.

*        QJ  QJ   QJ64 ♣QJ873

12 HCP plus nice cards in your two longest suits gives a total of 21. If you indiscriminately follow the rules all your life, this would be an opening bid. Aagghh! It hurts me to think that anyone would do anything other than pass with this collection of “Quacks” (queens and jacks).

Some experts require that a Rule of Twenty hands also contain a minimum of 2 quick tricks: two aces, an A and K in the same suit, or an ace and two unguarded kings. This changes the Rule of Twenty to the Rule of Twenty-Two. Jerry Helms teaches the Rule of Twenty-two.

AK(x) =2 quick tricks
AQ(x) =1 ½ quick tricks
A(x) =1 quick trick
KQ(x) = 1 quick trick
Kx(x) = ½ quick trick

Both hands can be opened using the rule of 22.

♠KQxxx  xx KQxxx ♣x    10 HCP +10 cards in 2 longest suits + 2 quick tricks (KQ=1)
♠x  A109xx xx ♣KQJxx   10 HCP +10 cards in 2 longest suits + 2 quick tricks (KQ=1, A=1)

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Ronald L. Palmer  
 June 5, 1915 - January 21, 2017

Ron quit playing bridge years ago because of health issues. Listening to MDBC members describe him during his original bridge playing days there was never a dull moment with Ron around.  He even had a nickname, Jiminy the Cricket. Rumor was Ron could jump and click his heels like Jiminy.  He even managed to make bridge romantic by meeting his second Wife, the late Evelyn G. Palmer (Lynne Ogden’s mother), at the Club. 

Ron did a lot in his 101 years, from a veteran of the United States Air Force and fighting in World War II to an honorary Life Master of Macon Duplicate Bridge Club and playing trumpet in the Community Band.

Generosity was natural to Ron when it came to his Episcopal Church, family, and other things he enjoyed and loved.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rule of 20

The Rule of Twenty(Do it Correctly)
What are your criteria for opening the bidding with one of a suit? 12 HCPs? Good 11’s? Really good 10’s? Yes, HCPs are the most commonly used measure, but, as we all learned early in our bridge career, counting HCPs is only part of the story, we must also factor in our distribution.
One increasingly popular method for evaluating hands is the Rule of 20. Here is how it works. Add up your HCPs, and to that add the length of your longest suit, and your second longest suit. If the total comes to 20 or higher, then you are looking at an opening bid. Some examples:
♠ AK65 Q75 986 ♣ K87
12 HCPs, so some might open this crummy hand on that basis alone. But add the length of the two longest suits, and we get 12+4+3=19. Only 19 “Rule of 20” points, so this is not an opening bid. Nor should it be, those square hands should be devalued, as indeed they are by the Rule of 20.
♠ AK65 QT5 98 ♣ K874
Still 12 HCPs, and still not much of a hand. But, the improved distribution gives us 12+4+4=20. An opening bid!
♠ AQT65 Q754 98 ♣ K8
Now we have 11 HCPs, but 11+5+4 equals 20, and another opening bid.
♠ KQT65 AJ754 98 ♣ 8
Yes, there is a trend here. The more extreme we make our distribution, the fewer HCPs are required to make up the magic number of 20. Here, 10+5+5 gets us to that number.
As a corollary to the above, what is the top end of your Weak Two bids? If it is 11, then you are not following the Rule of 20 … you cannot have a 6-card suit and 11 HCPs without reaching 20 “Rule of 20” points. A hand that good should be opened one of a suit.
The beauty of the Rule of 20 is that it factors in HCPs and distribution into a single number. But, that does not relieve us of the obligation to actually think. Just as there is a difference between a good 12 HCPs and a bad 12 HCPs, so there is such a thing as a bad Rule of 20 hand:
♠ KQ865 Q754 Q8 ♣ Q8
This one passes the Rule of 20 by virtue of its 11+5+4. But, what an ugly 20! Those minor suit doubleton Queens are not pulling full weight, the hand is Aceless, there are no fillers … not an opening bid!
♠ KJ865 Q9742 J3 ♣ K
This one gets to 20 via 10+5+5. But more minor suit wastage, and, again, not an opening bid.
Conversely, just as some 20’s don’t cut the mustard, there are some 19’s that are just too good to pass. Here is one such example:
♠ AT975 AJT96 542 ♣ --
Only 9+5+5, for a total of 19, but who could possibly resist opening this delicious 9 HCPs with 1♠? The void, the fillers, the Aces … this hand isn’t merely an opening bid … it’s an opening bid with extras!
So, there you have it … the Rule of 20. It’s a better evaluation method than HCPs alone … but, don’t use it blindly … as we saw there is still room for judgment when deciding whether to open one of a suit.