Squeeze your Opponents!
February 13, 2018
Partner, where do you want to go – McDonalds or KFC?
February 17, 2018

The Peskiest of All Shapes

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4-4-4-1 hands are the hardest to bid. You hardly ever have enough time or space in the auction to show all three of your suits. For ACOL players, these hands are especially tough, because we have three possible opening bids. Even still, we can describe these hands well enough if we make an agreement with partner about which suit to open and when.

Tina’s mnemonic of choice is “Bridge Makes Racy Ladies” (BMRL for black, middle–red, lowest). Follow this pattern to give partner as much information as you can!

28 Comments

  1. tina says:

    It is often difficult to bid 4441 hands and they are not great unless you have a fit. Which suit do you open?

    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 X 2 3
    P 5 P P
    P

    • janemart says:

      @tina I’d be interested to see the BMRL theory in practice from partner’s point of view. How are they supposed to know that your bidding from 4441 hand rather than that you’re just showing 4 or more hearts?
      Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
      Auction
      W N E S
      – – P 1
      1 5 P P
      P

      • tina says:

        @janemart Good question. Apart from 1NT, which is a great bid because it’s so specific, partner doesn’t have a clue about your suit until your rebid. 1H could be from a 4441 or could be 6 cards or a 5/5 shape or any possible combination.
        The rebid can be a problem with the 4441. Partner usually bids your Singleton of course and then you have to bid a second suit. If you are weak, you can bid again if you’re at the 1-level. But if you’re at the 2-level, you have to bid a lower suit. Check out the lesson on reverses to see why.
        I hope this is helpful. Soon I’ll do a whole video lesson on the subject.

  2. baygon2014 says:

    Was considering gambling on 5 diamonds but I simply did not have enough information. Whilst partner supported my bid and was strong enough to overcall west’s 1 spade it really depended on the side suits so I chickened out and stopped in 3 diamonds.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P P
    P

  3. carolecat says:

    Dang! What kind of bridge player am I?!? I totally forgot to finesse! Only made 10. 🙁
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P P
    P

  4. jlpurdie says:

    I think I must have had Graeme as my partner as went straight to game and we made it.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 5 P P
    P

  5. bajir says:

    Playing standard and without a 5-card major, I opened 1. Partner showed a fit and but I wanted to make sure we didn’t also have a fit. I wasn’t sure if bidding 3 would count as a reverse bid, but I don’t think it did?

    Regardless, as I hoped, partner would choose the best suit to go to game. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it – I misjudged where the Q would be. Anyone pick up on clues I missed as to guessing where it would likely be?

    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 3
    P 5 P P
    P

    • player4 says:

      @bajir No hints that I could see. 50 percent chance of being right! But playing the 9H and seeing East go low I thought there was a good chance.
      Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
      Auction
      W N E S
      – – P 1
      1 X 2 X
      P 3 P P
      P

    • janemart says:

      It was more desperation than clever picking up of clues @bajir – If W had the Q then then I figured the 10 was going to become a danger. If E had it then I knew how to make 3 heart tricks. And 3 heart tricks meant contract!

  6. player4 says:

    I was always taught to open in the suit ranking one below the singleton, and in the case of a singleton club, then hearts. It gives partner the chance to tell me about their long suit, if they have one and sufficient points. It’s been kind to me in the past and we ended up in the right suit – but I was not sure if partners double showed points and conservatively left it at three, making five….
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 X 2 X
    P 3 P P
    P

  7. coombes1952 says:

    @graeme…today, playing 5 card majors, I opened 1D…but I use Tina’s mnemonic often when I can.

    I wanted to tell Graeme that I used his ‘stay away from stayman’ lesson in a pairs competition yesterday…I am a firm follower of his approach to the game…do not complicate the bidding…get to game without giving away information. The pleasing result of that 1NT….3NT hand was a top board with 11 tricks and 98%. Others were in 4S making 10 tricks. When my hand went down I did get some puzzling looks with my 4,4,3,2 distribution…comments like ‘ didn’t you like your spades or hearts’….What can I say? It just felt right to go to game….they did not know what to lead so our weak suit was not revealed and the hands played well…2 balanced hands = NT most of the time.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P P
    P

  8. dyfed says:

    opened 1H because otherwise what is my rebid? I can’t bid S because that’s a reverse and I am not strong enough. So got to open 1H
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 X 2 3
    P 5 P P
    P

  9. Ainitially opened 1 diamond, ptn went straight to 5. Tried twice to make it. Rebid opening hearts, which again went to 5 diamonds, but this time made.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 X 2 3
    P 5 P P
    P

  10. bowman says:

    5D made 11 tricks
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 5 P P
    P

  11. sockstevens says:

    Aces with W in order to bid so K likely to be in E, nice to be able to cross ruff so much and get away with it, Shy of going for slam however but it was there.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 5 P P
    P

  12. says:

    5D made. Opened with diamonds hoping my partner and I would have a major fit. That did’t happen so the hint said 5D and I thought why not try.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 5
    P P P

  13. jwwwh says:

    Bid 1 D and Partner went to 5D
    Made it
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 5 P P
    P

  14. riverbank says:

    Was excited as hand was same as Tina’s video, but my partner, unlike hers, didn’t like my diamond bid … but we did make game in hearts.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 4
    P 4 P P
    P

  15. chance22 says:

    3D, 12 tricks
    Opening lead: West A

    I inadvertently hit Pass at the open, so we ended in 3D.

    I liked doing the club finesse quickly, at trick #3. West ducked, so it certainly worked out well.

    After drawing diamonds, I gave the heart finesse a shot from North, so we ended with 12.

    cc @zoomer2591

    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P P
    1 P 2 3
    P P P

  16. rocky25 says:

    Rocky25 Sez…
    I play 5 card majors, so I opened with 1DMND. Partner went to 5DMNDS and made 5! A little tricky though.
    Happy Valentines Day to all you romantics !!!!!
    Later
    Rocky25
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 5
    P P P

  17. davidburn says:

    Hi Tina and Bajir.
    The new thinking is – With a singleton Diamond, open 1; for all other singletons, open 1. The rationale behind this is that:
    a) if you are playing Standard American or some other 5-card Major system, it avoids conveying the wrong information about your Major suit length;
    b) if you do re-bid with one of your other 4-card suits, it will suggest that your first suit contains 5 cards, but Partner isn’t going to get overly excited if
    that first suit is a Minor – still very useful in a No Trump contract. However, if you bid a Major first (probably Hearts given the “middle suit” approach), and
    then bid a second suit, Partner will get overly interested if the perceive an 8-card fit when holding only 3 cards;
    c) if your singleton is the Diamond and Partner bids that, then you can safely re-bid 1 (or 1, or even reverse with 2!) after your 1 opening. Yes, it looks
    like you hold 5 Clubs, but Partner won’t be mislead about the length of your Heart (or Spade) suit;
    d) if your singleton is the Heart and Partner bids that, then you can safely re-bid 1 (or even reverse with 2!) after your 1 opening. Yes, it looks
    like you hold 5 Diamonds, but again Partner won’t be mislead about the length of your Spade suit.;
    e) if your singleton is the Spade and Partner bids that (bypassing Hearts), then you can re-bid 2 (or even reverse with 2!) after your 1 opening. Yes, it looks
    like you hold 5 Diamonds, but Partner won’t be mislead about the length of your Heart suit.
    It works for both Acol and Standard!

  18. solubrius says:

    I play 5 card majors opened 1D partner responded 5D making 5. To me that means partner has not got a 4 card major and that 5D is a shut out bid on his/her hand? I reevaluate and pass.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 5 P P
    P

  19. rwebb says:

    How would you know which side to finesse for the queen of hearts. Bid 5 D but finessed for the queen being in W hand since they had bid. Down one
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 3
    P 5 P P
    P

  20. yewlodge says:

    yewlodge… why depend on the finese which is 50/50…when you can promote the j of spades to a winner and make it
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 X 2 3
    P 5 P P
    P

  21. nanettes says:

    The question of, why play game in a minor when you can play it for game in NT?? However, we made it…
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – – P 1
    1 3 P 3N
    P 5 P P
    P

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