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Suppose I had a hand like the following: (s) KJxx (h) xxx (d) AJx (c) AKx. If I were the opening bidder, I would, of course, bid 1NT. (Note to commenter below: In this paragraph, I was describing a "generic" balanced 4-3-3-3 16 hcp "no trump" hand with honors in three suits. This was NOT a specific question about the particular hand configuration above.)

If someone opened in front of me with 1 club, diamond, or spade (all of which I have a stopper in), but not 1 heart, I would still bid 1NT as an overcall.

The earliest I could do this is in the second seat, after the original bid. In this case, I know little about the holdings of either the opponent's partner or mine, except that they are constrained by the strength of the first two bidders.

If I overcalled in the third seat, I would know that my partner (first seat) was a passed hand but I wouldn't know this about my opponent's partner (fourth seat).

If I overcalled in the fourth seat, I would know that both my and the opener's partners had passed hands.

If the "one bid" came from the first seat instead of the third seat, I would be in the "balancing" seat, and possibly overcall 1NT with 12-14 points.


  1. Do I need to be more careful in the third seat, since I might be sandwiched between two strong opponents?

  2. If the "one bid" came from the third seat after two passes, can I overcall light in the fourth seat as if I am "balancing," even though technically I'm in the direct seat? Expert Larry Cohen calls this "balancing in the direct seat" and advocates this.

  3. If opener bid a suit in which I have stoppers (that is, other than hearts), can I worry "less" about he heart suit, on the theory that since opener didn't show strength in hearts, my partner and the opener's partner are equally likely to have strength in that suit?

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Books can be written on "position" and so would be too broad. Talking about a specific hand is too localized. In any case, I didn't find a too localized close option...! So haven't voted to close. –  Aryabhata Dec 14 '13 at 23:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Learn to evaluate this hand as being worth only 14 points, 14.5 at the very, very, most, and your bridge results will improve.

  1. No 10's, no 9's, no 8's, not even any 7's. The opponents will kill you with these cards leading through any and all quacks held by you and your partner. Then they will lead these cards through your kings to kill those too. Minus 1 point.
  2. Minus one point for 4333 distribution. Goren was the world's best bridge teacher for three decades for good reason. Read his books, and recognize that in Chapter one he always stated that the 3-2-1 distribution points are not ruffing values, but indicative of general hand strength from the shape.

Open aggressively in third seat, for the preemptive value against a strong hand in fourth seat. Open this hand 1S in 3rd seat, and teach partner the Drury convention in that situation.

Open passively in fourth seat, so still open this hand 1S and again teach partner the Drury convention for this situation.

I don't care that you are playing five card majors.

Open 1spade anyways, and teach partner the Drury convention in this situation. Presumably you are asking here to learn better bridge. Learn to open strong 4-card spade suites in 3rd and 4th seat. This is part of becoming a better bridge player.

Don't open 14 point hands 1NT when playing 15-17HCP as your 1NT range.

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I knew that I needed to take a "discount" on this hand, which is why I made the example 16 points "nominal" (presumably 15 points "real"), but I didn't realize that the discount needed to be 1.5-2. Also, I actually believe that the five card major needs to be overridden from time to time, but I've been castigated (by others) on this site for saying so. I would prefer a minor to one spade in this situation, but give me, KJTx and I would open four-carded. The rationale is that I would open with JTxxx xxx AJx AKx, so substitute the king of spades for xx. –  Tom Au Dec 9 '13 at 15:28
@TomAu: a 1S opening in 3rd hand with this type of hand is quite nice. Playing Drury you have the option of passing anything partner bids (except a Drury response), and feel comfortable about the contract (though in this case you would probably invite over partner's 2-over-1). It is the 7 deuces that really hurt the hand. If the spade 10 and diamond 9 (or equivalent) showed up I would feel much better about the hand, and rate it a bare 15. –  Pieter Geerkens Dec 9 '13 at 22:38
Call it 14.25 for seven deuces, 14.5 with a 9, and 15.0 with an additional T. Your points are all very good. These are the "real" reason for my upvoting and accepting the answer, even though it "technically" doesn't answer the questions. –  Tom Au Dec 9 '13 at 23:36
Which question? You asked 6 or 8. ;-) –  Pieter Geerkens Dec 9 '13 at 23:40
I guess the "real" question was "What am I doing wrong bidding 1NT?" and the "official" question was, "Am I "overcalling" 1NT wrongly given my position. But the question began: "Suppose I had a hand like the following:... If I were the opening bidder, I would, of course, bid 1NT." It's the difference between what the Japanese call "honte" and "tatamae." –  Tom Au Dec 9 '13 at 23:45

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