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If my hand is not good enough to reverse, what should I do with a hand like

Kxx x KJxx AQxxx

That is, a minimum opener with a singleton major, 4 diamonds, and 5 clubs (assuming that I'm playing Standard American or 2/1 with a strong NT opener)?

Should I open 1D or 1C? What's my rebid if partner bids my singleton?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If the diamond quality is vastly better than the clubs, then open 1D planning on rebidding clubs; otherwise open 1C.

If the club quality is vastly better than the diamonds, then open 1C and plan on rebidding 1NT if partner responds 1H; the club suit can be expected to run in such a situation, and so how much trouble can you get into in 1NT.

Remember that if partner passes a 1NT rebid by you this shows 6-9 points to go with your minimum opener. If you can't make 1NT on power and the club suit, the opponents can probably make at least 2S (or 2H!); going down 1 or 2 undoubled is a win.

The big misconception newer and intermediate players make is thinking that 5-card suits, by either responder or opener, are a preferable rebid; this is untrue; rebidding a 5-card suit is a desperation rebid to be done only in dire circumstances, or to reveal a 5-5. Both opener and responder should try keenly to avoid rebidding 5-card suits, and save such rebids for 6-card suits. Partner will preference back with 3-card support unless her hand is strongly no-trumpish, at which point the 8-card fit can be revealed.

In regards to Rud's statement about opener's raise of 1M with 3 card support; I have always felt comfortable raising partner's suit with 3 and a side singleton. If partner cannot handle the occasional Moysian fit, I find another partner. (And I never have difficulty finding partners.)

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Good point about rebidding 5-card suits. –  ruds Jun 14 '13 at 14:29
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I'd open one club, 1) because there are five of them and 2) to give partner a chance to respond in all three higher suts (or no trump). With your length in clubs, partner is less likely to have four or five of them.

If he responds in your singleton, I'd bid one NT, denying a four card spade suit, and denying support for his suit, implying that most of my strength is in the minors.

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I'm aware of 3 general approaches to this problem. Each of these approaches has its adherents, and most people seem to think that their own answer is obviously the best approach. I'll list the 3 approaches and their major weaknesses (assuming opener has 3 spades, 1 heart, 4 diamonds, 5 clubs).

  1. Open 1C, plan to raise diamonds or spades, and rebid 1NT after hearts.
    • Some people prefer never to rebid 1NT with a singleton and therefore recoil from this approach.
    • The main weakness with this call is that partner may correct to 2 of their major with a good 5-card suit and thus play a 5-1 fit.
    • Some players have no system to handle 1C-1H-2H if opener may raise on 3.
  2. Open 1C, plan to rebid 2C over 1H (and maybe even 1S).
    • In the ideal 1C-1H-2C auction, opener has a 6-card suit. Partner may well pass with a minimum and two small clubs. Worse is that responder may have a good hand and you'll wind up in the wrong strain at a higher level.
  3. Open 1D, plan to rebid 2C over 1H (and maybe even 1S).
    • When partner has a minimum and is 2-2 or 3-3 in the minors, you'll end up playing in 2D when 2C plays a trick or two better.
    • In a competitive auction, partner doesn't know about your best suit -- you may never get a chance to show clubs, causing partner to compete in the wrong suit or to lead diamonds instead of clubs.

As a side note, you may notice a common thread to all three approaches is that your life is made more difficult if opener can't raise responder's suit with 3-card support. 1C-1S-2C is definitely inferior to 1C-1S-2S when opener has 3 spades and only 5 clubs, but if partner will bid on as though opener has 4-card support in this auction, 2S is not an option.

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