Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rule of 15

Are you a follower of the rule of 15, which says that if it's 3 passes to you, you should only open the bidding if your high card points plus spade length is 15 or more? It's typically a very good rule, and it is based on the idea that when the points are balanced, the side with a spade fit is more likely to go plus on the board, because they can get the contract at the two-level while you would have to go to the 3 level in some other suit. Anyway, Tuesday night at the local club I picked up: K, 9xx, AJxx, KQxxx. both vul, it's 3 passes to me, and without a second thought, I pass it out. Partner happened to have a 9 point hand with Qxxxxx of spades and everyone else in the room was in 2S or 3S going down 2 or 3.

Here is another example of the my bidding judgment that is perhaps against the field, but not at all related to the rule of 15. This hand is from 2 weeks ago. I held: xxx, KJ, AKQ, AKJxx. In second position, unfavorable vulnerability, I opened the hand 1C. The auction progressed without interference: 1H-2D-3C-3D-3S-4C-4H-6C-P. 3C was game-forcing with 4 card club support. 3D and 3S were cue bids, 4C was key card blackwood for clubs. Over 4H, I should have bid 4S to inquire about the Q of trumps and possibly any kings. I would have gotten a 5S response, showing the CQ and SK and denying either red king. Then I could have bid the better scoring matchpoint contract of 6NT opposite: AKx, QT9xx, x, Qxxx.

I know a lot of you would open 2NT or 2C with my hand but game chances are very unlikely if partner can't muster up some response to 1C, and 1C will surely get us to a better partscore than either of the strong openings. Yes, I distorted my shape a little bit with the reverse into a 3 card suit, but I think that isn't such a big deal. It seems like a better lie than opening 2NT without a spade stopper and barely 1 heart stopper. In retrospect, though it is not too unlikely that partner has 4 diamonds and a stiff club and we may wind up in a 6D contract that is, for example, ona 3-3 break.. Put a small spade in with the diamonds and this is definitely the correct way to bid the hand using fairly standard methods. Put a diamond honor in the spade suit and this is sure a 2NT opener also.

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