Contract Bridge » Bidding Requirements » Opening the Bidding

Opening the Bidding

  Why Open When to Open What to Open
  •   Tell partner what you have
  •   Look for a trump suit
  •   Have about 13 points
  •   Hold a good rebid
  •   Bid your good suit
  •   Bid notrump

Opening a Bridge Hand

To open a Bridge hand you should have 13 points or more. Next is to decide on whether you want to play with a trump suit, or play notrump instead.

If you have enough points then you must decide which suit to bid. If you have a 5+ card major (spades or hearts) then you can open with 1 of this suit. You are then off to a good start and await partner's response to see if they also have cards in your major suit.

A K 9 8 5     J 10 3     K Q 6     9 4    

With this hand you have at least 13 points and a 5 card major suit so can open the bidding with 1 Spade.

Lacking a 5 card major suit you can open with a minor suit (diamonds or clubs). If you have a 5+ card minor suit then bid it. If not, perhaps your hand is 4-4-3-2 in shape with no long suit, you can open a 'convenient' or 'short' minor.

A K 9 5     J 10 6 3     K Q 6     9 4    

With this hand you have at least 13 points but no 5 card major suit so open the bidding with 1 Diamond. You don't intend to stay in this suit, you just opened it 'short' to get the bidding started for your side. You hope partner will bid either hearts or spades and then you will have found a major suit fit.

You can open a convenient minor, but not a convenient major. To open a major suit you need to have at least a 5 card suit.

To open with 1NT you should have 15-17 points and a 'balanced' hand, which means as close to 3-3-3-4 shape in the suits as possible. It might be 3.2-4-4 etc, but you should not have a void or singleton to open 1 notrump. Plan on bidding a suit with this type of unbalanced hand instead.

Try a set of our Opening Bids Flashcards. 50 cards with quick questions and answers on what to bid with 6-6 suits, 6-5 suits, 5-5 suits, 5-4 suits...

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Opening the Bidding - What you need to open in Bridge