What is my opening bid with a 24 high card point hand, so that I don't get 3 passes and end up short of slam?

AKQJx AKx Ax KQJ, I think. One year players. So rare to see this hand.

Partner had 11 HCP. I opened w 2NT, Part bid 3 something,I bid 3NT and then 3 passes.

She had 3rd A and we had 4 K. Made Gr slam. Bid 3 NT. What a waste of a great opportunity. Should part. know with her 11 and my 2NT open that we should not stop, go to Gerber?

  • 1
    Also note that 24 points in a single hand, without compensating distribution, is barely enough to struggle to 2NT with a couple of scattered jacks in partner's hand; Maybe 3NT if you are lucky. If partner cannot respond to an opening of 1 in a suit you are rarely making small slam, never mind a Grand Slam., May 30, 2015 at 0:21
  • It is also essential to know your general system approach, and what slam-bidding conventions you have agreed on with partner. With a casual partner bidding a Grand Slam is nearly always going to be a crap shoot, so I would in that case usually be happy to bid Small Slam when Grand makes. The opportunity cost for going one down in grand is just too high in a casual game. May 30, 2015 at 0:24
  • Also, any commentary you can provide on your partner's capabilities will be useful. If partner is a timid declarer, I would rather play a sure small slam in my hand that a nerve-wracking grand by partner. If parent is a timid bidder I will need to plan a sequence of forcing bids, whereas with an over ambitious partner I might need to under bid by one or two points. May 30, 2015 at 0:29
  • That's 27 HCP not 24. Yes, partner should be able to add 22 + 11 but you did rebid a non-forcing 3NT denying interest in her suit. If she was going through a "I have to learn to stop overbidding slam' phase, her pass might be understandable. As always, it depends so much on the specific hand. May 31, 2015 at 16:45
  • If you want really good answers, ask really good questions - give the specific hands in as much detail as you can. In many cases even 8's and 9's may affect my bidding judgement, so don't blindly put in x's if you remember spots. I will interpret all x's as 2's, so whenever you know ther were bigger, say so. May 31, 2015 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


As explanation of why it is completely insufficient to ask "What is my opening bid with a 24 high card point hand ...?" consider these examples of hands with 24 HCP:

QJT9876 AK AK AK     Open 5S, asking partner to pass or raise to 6 or 7 
                     with respectively 0, 1, or 2 controls in the Spade
                     suit. This is a useful asking bid because it is
                     pointless as an opening pre-empt - the only player
                     at the table you are pre-empting by opening 5 of a
                     major is partner.

AKQTx x AKQTx AQ     Open 1S in order to preserve room to show your strong
                     two suiter with a second round jump to 3D. Opening 2C
                     with strong two-suiters is a bad practice, because you
                     will either lose the second suit, or be forced to
                     introduce it at the 4 level where partner will mis-
                     read it as a control bid in support of his suit.

AKxx Kx AQJx AQJ     Open 2C planning to rebid 2NT.

K32 AK AK32 AK32     I lean towards opening 2C planning to rebid 2NT, but I
                     could forgive a partner who simply opened this 2NT.
                     Game is very unlikely if partner cannot move over 2NT,
                     because of the major suit shortness and the poor
                     texture in all suits. 

AKQJTxx AKQ KQ 2     Open 4NT, Blackwood. The only information you require
                     from partner is how many Aces he has, and you may lose
                     the opportunity to ask if you let opponents into the


Consider the following deal, consistent with OP's description. As the hand given by OP is actually 27 HCP, and an obvious 2S opener in consequence, let's amend to be an interesting question, dropping the SK to become:


opposite something like


Theoretical issues now aside, and with an actual hand to analyze, let's assume a casual partnership playing a Goren style bidding system - so no relevant conventions beyond Stayman; Strong 2C with a 2D waiting response and a second negative; straight Blackwood; and Gerber as an immediate jump over NT.

Opener has 24 HCP plus a strong 5-card Spade suit, counting 5.5 QT and 9 PT (playing tricks); this is well above the minimum for a strong 2C opener and, significantly, too strong for a 22-24 HCP Strong 2NY opener. Opener should open 2C (or 2S if that is a strong opener rather than a weak 2).

Over 2C responder will bid 2D (waiting) because she is too strong to bid a 2NT response. Opener rebids 2S to show the strong 5 card suit; and responder rebids 3S (game forcing because a fit has been announced and a 3C second negative wasn't bid). Even if Responder errs and jumps to 4S, which should be a minimum distributional raise in Spades, the partnership should easily find the small slam in either Spades or Notrump.

Note that the grand, although possibly making on this hand, is a bad bet to bid because it requires responder to have either 4 clubs or for a beneficial break in hearts, or for a squeeze to come home. This reflects the flaw in Opener's hand of no small diamond, wasting the DJ unless Responder has precisely Axxx or longer.

To directly answer the question in regards the actual bidding sequence at the table: once Opener underbids with an opening of 2NT and hides the strong Spade suit on the second round, Responder can be forgiven for passing 3NT. There is really nowhere for Responder to go with confidence.

  • It's worth adding a note that the Dallas Aces of the late 1970's, the first North American professional team, had a rule that you were only allowed to go down in Grand Slam once a year - twice in the same year and you were off the team. While perhaps a tad Draconian, this reflects the high odds you must have, in the long run, to profit by bidding Grand. You should have at least a 75% or 80% chance of making, which means no finesses, and being able to handle any 4-1 split in trumps. This usually amounts to being able to count 37 HCP or know where all 13 tricks are coming from. Aug 17, 2015 at 1:42

Your hand is "too strong" for a "direct" of 2NT, which shows a balanced hand and 20-21 high card points.

The hand that you gave has 27 points, but three aces is one too many if your partner has the "third." I'm assuming that you have two aces, 2 KQJs, and a side king for 23.

With 22-23, the standard "forcing" bid is two clubs. Your partner MUST bid two diamonds (as a waiting bid) or better, (unless the opponent between you bids).

Let's say partner makes a bid of two diamonds (waiting) or two hearts (responsive). When you rebid 2 NT, partner now knows that you have a "strong" 2NT with 22-23 points.

Partner is now the "captain" of the team because she knows about your 22-23 NT hand, as well as the composition of her 11 point hand. She should do the math and come up with 33-34, and bid 6NT. The reason she might not have done this after your immediate 2NT is because she may have given you "credit" for 20-21, and come up with 31-32 for the combined hands.

Another poster hypothesized a bunch of possible hands for your "24" and came up with several hypothetical responses. That should not happen on this site. You should state the hand that you have, and ask about it, not about a generic "24" (23, actually) point hand.

  • You'd really force to game with AK32 AK32 AK K32? Can I get two red cards in my bidding box please; I'd like to (re)double my opponent frequently. May 31, 2015 at 4:53
  • Note that in a notrump auction, all I had to do to overbid you was give you more Aces and fewer Jacks. Opposite holds true in suit contracts. May 31, 2015 at 4:57
  • @PieterGeerkens: Did you comment/downvote based on a misreading of my answer? Because I said that "The bidding cannot stop until a level is reached that is ONE SHORT of game," (not game itself). And my rebid of 2NT on AK32 AK32 AK K32 is similar to what you would do in your answer.
    – Tom Au
    May 31, 2015 at 18:32
  • I'd still really like you to be more explicit about the hidden assumptions in your answer. OP gave you no reason in the question to assume that the hand had to be flat, so your statements that the bidding can be guided by the HCP alone is poor advice. May 31, 2015 at 19:19
  • 1
    @PieterGeerkens: Bad question, bad answer. I finally answered a "revised" question.
    – Tom Au
    May 31, 2015 at 20:29

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