Here is your beautiful hand: ♠ K2 ♥ A ♦ AKQJ8743 ♣ Q4
What do you open?
Your options are: 1♦, 4♦, 5♦ or 2♣. What would you pick? Think about the meaning of each bid.
- 1♦ = Constructive, 4+♦
- 4♦ = Pre-emptive, 8♦
- 5♦ = Pre-emptive or to play, 7+♦
- 2♣ = 23+bal OR 22+ unbal OR 9 playing tricks
Have you changed your mind? What best describes your hand?
Since 4♦ is a strictly pre-emptive bid, we can rule that out straightaway. We have a very strong hand with 19 HCP!
1♦ is not a lie and may afford you some extra bidding space that you won’t get otherwise. However, there are two concerns you may have if you open 1♦:
- What will your rebid be? 3♦ is too weak. 3NT is practical and descriptive if you play that as 19-21 HCP with a long, strong ♦ suit; but you have 8 diamonds, so maybe your hand is too good for a 3NT rebid – and some of you may not have this agreement with your partner anyway! 4♦ is a bit more like it; but it takes up a lot of space and doesn’t get across how strong your diamonds are.
- What if I get left there? It’s not very likely but it is a possibility. If you had to play in 1♦, you would be very concerned that you might well have missed a game!
5♦ will solve Problem 2 as you will always end up in game. It also makes life difficult for your opponents. However, it takes up a lot of space and makes it hard for your partner to know when to bid a slam, as you could just be pre-empting!
Now let’s consider 2♣. We only have 19 HCP, so we don’t fall into the categories of 23+ balanced or 22+ unbalanced. Let’s count our “playing tricks”, which are the tricks we will take if our suit is Trumps. We have 8 diamond tricks, 1 heart trick and half a spade trick (as it is 50/50 whether the Ace is onside) = 9.5 playing tricks. That means that we fall into Category 3: 9+ playing tricks. 2♣ is therefore a good description of our hand, as well as a bid that saves space!
It is really common to forget this third meaning of 2♣ as the hands are so infrequent; so if you chose one of the other options, don’t feel bad; this should serve as a useful reminder!