Opener’s Rebid when Balanced (Standard)

Length: 10 minutes

Opener’s Rebid – Balanced hands (SA)

As an opening bid, you can show the following balanced hands in one go:

  • 15-17 = 1NT
  • 20-22 = 2NT

So that leaves two ranges that qualify for an opening bid that we need to find a way to show: balanced hands with 12-14 and 18-19 HCP. You will notice that one of these is too weak to have opened 1NT; the other is too strong.

The basic principle is simple: we open 1 of a suit first and then rebid NT to show a balanced hand, unless we have 4-card support for Partner’s major.

Your opening bid

When you open a suit at the 1-level, you will be promising a different number of cards depending on whether your opening is in a major or a minor:

  • 1♥/♠ = 5+ cards
  • 1♣/♦ = 3+ cards

If you are 5332 or 4333 with a 4-card minor, you can just open your longest suit (as you would do with an unbalanced hand). However, if you are 4432 or 4333 with a 4-card major, things are more complicated as you cannot open 1Major without 5 cards in the suit. Which minor should you choose instead?

People do different things but the easiest way is to follow the “Better Minor” convention. This comprises a simple set of rules:

  • One minor is longer than the other  = open the longer one
  • 4-4 in both minors = open 1♦
  • 3-3 in both minors = open 1♣

This ensures that your 1♦ opening will only ever be just 3 cards if you are precisely 4♠4♥3♦2♣.

Your rebid with support

Remember that the first priority of strain is to find out whether you have an 8-card major fit with your partner. So if you have 4-card support for your partner’s major, you must show it.

Now think back to the schema you learned in the lesson on rebidding with unbalanced hands:

  • 12-15 = minimum, so raise to 2M
  • 16-18 = maximum, so raise to 3M
  • 19 = you have game opposite Partner’s 6, so raise to 4M

If you have a balanced hand, you will be in the 12-14 or 18-19 ranges. So raise accordingly:

  • 12-14 bal with 4-card support = minimum, so raise to 2M
  • 18 bal with 4-card support = maximum, so raise to 3M
  • 19 bal with 4-card support = game-going, so raise to 4M

Your rebid without support

Now let’s learn something new!

If your partner has responded 1 of a suit, you have two NT rebids available below game for describing your hand: 1NT and 2NT. Therefore, rebidding 1NT shows 12-14 HCP and 2NT shows 18-19 HCP.

If your partner has responded 2 of a suit instead, you have to show the two different ranges with 2NT and 3NT: 2NT shows 12-14 and 3NT shows 18-19.

If your partner has responded 1NT (6-9 HCP), your options change slightly; this is because he has made a non-forcing bid.

  • With 12-14 HCP, you will not make a game opposite Partner’s HCP-count; you will have at most 21-23 HCP between you. So you should pass with these hands.
  • With 18-19 HCP, you might well make a game, so you should bid 2NT with these hands.

Here is a summary for you:

Bid / P’s response1♦ to 12♣ to 21NT
Pass   12-14
3NT  18-19 

Two important points:

1. When you open the bidding, always have an idea of the rebid you would like to make and the type of hand you would like to show. This will speed up the auction if you get to make that rebid and help you to make your decision if you are forced to modify it.

2. Your second bid should tell your partner whether or not you are balanced, unless you have support for your partner’s major.

Back to: First Steps: How to Bid in Bridge (Standard)