Learn Bridge | Counting your points
January 2, 2017
Counting Points
January 2, 2017

Opener’s first bid

Opener's 1st Bid

Acol: Opening 1!S or 1!H shows 4 cards
An opening bid of 1 of a suit shows 12+ points
  • 1!c, 1!d, 1!h, 1!s = 12+ points, 4 card suit
  • Longest suit
  • Lower-ranking 4-card suit
  • Higher-ranking 5-card suit

Strength for an opening bid

High Card Points

An opening bid shows 12 or more High Card Points (HCP) although if you have a long suit you can open with 11 or occasionally 10.

Rule of 20

The Rule of 20 is a test you can apply to a hand to see if it's worth opening with fewer than 12 HCP. Add your high card points to the number of cards in your 2 longest suits. We call this Total Points (TP). If the result is 20 or more, you can open the bidding.

There are 20 TP (10 HCP and 10 cards in hearts and spades, the two longest suits). You have enough to open the bidding.

Which suit do you open?

If you have the strength to open the bidding, your next decision is which suit to choose. As you will learn, it is important to tell partner as much as possible about the shape of your hand. Therefore, we need some rules, so your bidding makes sense to your partner.

Open your longest suit

On this hand you have more spades than anything else therefore that would be a good suit to have as trumps.

Open your lower 4-card suit

This time you have two 4-card suits. The rule is that you should open the lower ranking 4-card suit.

Open your higher 5-card suit

Now, you have two 5-card suits. The rule is that you should open your higher ranking 5-card suit.

Opener's first bid

Standard: Opening 1!S or 1!H shows 5 cards
An opening bid of 1 of a suit shows 12+ points
  • 1!h, 1!s = 12+ points, 5 card suit
  • 1!c, 1!d = 12+ points, 3 card suit

Opening 1!h or 1!s

Opening 1!s or 1!h promises a 5-card suit. Spades and hearts are called the 'major' suits.This rule specifically applies to these two suits. Opening 1!s or 1!h also promises 12+ points.

On this hand the correct opening bid is 1!h. You have enough strength and a 5-card suit. You don't promise a great suit, just five of them. Don't be tempted by those clubs.

This time you have two 5-card majors. In this case, you should open 1!s, the higher ranking suit. In fact, any time you have two 5-card suits, you should open the higher ranking suit.

Opening 1!c or 1!d

If you don't have a 5 card major then you should open 1!c or 1!d. Clubs and diamonds are called the 'minor' suits. You don't promise a 5-card suit this time. In fact, sometimes you may only have a 3-card suit.

You can't open 1!h as you don't have five of them. You have to open your better minor. Open 1!c.


  1. Profile photo of nigel1956 nigel1956 says:

    I am learning to play bridge. We use the acol system. Do any of your videos relate to Acol. I start to get confused when standard rules are mentioned.

    • Profile photo of graeme graeme says:

      Hi @nigel1956 and welcome to Sky Bridge Club. We have lots of Acol videos and we’re just doing a big rework of the site to make things easier to find. Right now I can’t even find anything myself! – stick around and in a day or two it’ll all become clear. In the meantime, where are you up to with your lessons? I’d be happy to find a few appropriate videos for you to watch while we finish our housekeeping.

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