I would do this with 8765432 of a suit in third seat, and a "Yarborough" elsewhere in hand, and with favorable vulnerability (not vulnerable vs. vulnerable).

Opposite a passed partner, I don't fear missing out on a game, or any constructive bid, and I do fear that the opponents have at least a game in hand, if not a slam, if fourth seat gets to open.

If partner has one or two trumps, I will make four tricks on sheer length against an opposing 3-1 or 3-2 distribution (3-3 for that matter). Doubled, non-vulnerable, that is -1100, less than the value of an opposing slam and rubber bonus.

If partner has the three defensive tricks needed to hold opponents to game, s/he will contribute 2-3 tricks, and we'd be down two or three -300 or -500, less than the value of game and rubber for the opponents.

Are the above circumstances the only time to do this? Or are there some systems or experts that would go "beyond" this and bid "any seven" either in the first or second seat, and/or with equal vulnerability?

Or would most people refrain from bidding "any seven" even with third seat and favorable vulnerability?

  • Yes, bridge clubs around the world have numerous fools who would bid thus - what more do you need to know? Bidding on the assumption that LHO received a defective bidding box, without any red cards, is lunatic bridge. LHO's bidding box is just fine, and he knows exactly how to pull that red card, whether it be for penalty or takeout. Dec 5, 2015 at 18:14
  • Hans Krijns famously overcalled Belladonna's light first seat 4H opening with 4S, ending the auction. After Kreijns made the contract Belladonna was caught looking for Kreijns's fifth spade, to which Kreijns replied "God only dealt me 4." Bidding systems that prey on the weak are discouraged everywhere - and expert opponents will eat you for breakfast if you frequently make these crazy non-constructive calls. Dec 5, 2015 at 18:23
  • 1
    The rules were changed 10 or 15 years ago; down 4 non vulnerable is -1100, not -900. Dec 5, 2015 at 20:41
  • @TomAu: Yes, but if partner is stacked in the other suits you are going -1100 or -1400 instead of -630. That's bad Matchpoints strategy, and worse IMPs or Board-a-Match strategy. Dec 5, 2015 at 21:45
  • @PieterGeerkens: 1) How is partner stacked in other suits if I'm doing this in third position because s/he passed initially? 2) To the extent that partner has tricks on defense, s/he reduces my penalty on offense. I can make up a scenario that s/he has "three queens" for defense that are worthless for offense, but that's rare.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 5, 2015 at 23:18

2 Answers 2


To answer your specific question: Other than third-seat favourable vulnerability, only when you are specifically interested in a small short-term bump in your results against weak club competition, and are willing to sacrifice your overall partnership rapport and skill level in order to do so.

Your argument is extremely faulty. If one is allowed to open 3 in a suit with a hand like such as


then one is effectively removing the capability to open 3 in a suit with a constructive hand such as


because it is too dangerous for partner to respond on the possibility of the second hand and risk going down 1700 or 2000 if you only have the first.

Further, you are neglecting the value of the distributional information that you are giving to the opponents, and that you are depriving both yourself and partner of (from hearing an informative opponent auction) in making an informed opening lead and sound defence. Destructive agreements like this are discouraged by all authorities because they both prey on weak players, who do not have the experience and agreements to deal with them, and convert expert contests into extreme games of chance from ones of skill.

Yes, in a club game you will undoubtedly do well with such an agreement against weak players; but you will at best break even in the same games using it against experienced partnerships; turn friends into enemies; and see your tournament results plummet as you develop a reliance on such gimmicks for good results at the expense of sound bidding and play.

as I noted in a comment above:

Yes, bridge clubs around the world have numerous fools who would bid thus - .... Bidding on the assumption that LHO received a defective bidding box, without any red cards, is lunatic bridge. LHO's bidding box is just fine, and [if an experienced player] he knows exactly how to pull that red card, whether it be for penalty or takeout.


It is also important to note that a very weak hand is much less likely than a merely weak hand. Thus that holding a hand similar to x-KJTxxxx-xx-KTx is much more likely than holding one similar to x-xxxxxxx-xx-xxx. Are you really sure you wish to handicap all the hands where you hold the former, just so that you can bid on the very rare occurrence of the latter?

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Similarly one moderate feature outside the suit is much more likely than no moderate feature outside the suit, compounding the unfavourable statistics.

Update An example of how a system that encourages light openings enables opposing declarers to make contracts unlikely to be made otherwise.

  • In situations (favorable in 3rd seat against opponents who bid well but don't take inferences from the bidding) where I am crazy enough to open x-xxxxxxx-xx-xxx 3H, I would also be crazy enough to open x-KJTxxxx-xx-KTx 4H. It's not unreasonable to open a 7-loser hand at the 4 level favorable, though on a hand that turns into a 9-loser hand with everything offside, and 10-loser with everything offside and poor splits... Dec 6, 2015 at 1:17
  • @AlexanderWoo: The question as written when I created this was specifically "When would t be reasonable to open these hands in 1st/2nd seat?" I am in no way referring to 3rd seat pre-empts in this answer. Dec 6, 2015 at 1:29
  • @PieterGeerkens: In 1st/2nd seat my comment is still true, though it's close to being a vacuous implication. Dec 6, 2015 at 1:37
  • Thank you for a long and informative answer. But with a hand like x-KJTxxxx-xx-KTx, my inclination is to open a weak two with it. And save "weak three" for "no defense." Put another way, open 1 with 12-13 points, open 2 with 6-7 (and distribution), open 3 with 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. FWIW, I consider "single face card hands" in the same category as 8765432, which was just an extreme case. Maybe I need to revisit the distribution of weak hands.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 6, 2015 at 1:46

There is Every Hand An Adventure, which is playable but not really a serious system. The goal was basically to make the most disruptive, playable, reasonably natural, ACBL-legal system possible. At least some versions of it included n-3 level overcalls on every hand with less than 12 points, a singleton or void, and an n-card suit, no individual judgement allowed. (Yes - this means 5431 hands are opened with a weak 2, and 6331 hands at the 3 level.) It also uses the 10-12 1N opening.

It's not trivial to play against. To do well against it, you need solid agreements with your partner to define precisely the strength and shape of various actions over their weak bids. With such agreements, it's not so hard to deal with, especially since knowledge of the opponents' distributions, combined with the fact that the hand itself is distributional, means you usually can make 22 hcp games and 29 hcp slams (as long as you're not off 2 quick tricks). (Also, the negative inference that an opponent who passes in first seat has no singleton and <10 hcp is quite valuable.) This means its gains are mostly due to opponents being unfamiliar with it rather than any of its strengths, and it is kind of cheap to try to win from unfamiliarity. (Unfamiliarity also doesn't go very far, because it stops being an advantage if you're good enough for opponents to start preparing for you.)

Mostly it gets played by young adventurous experts in side games they don't care about. It's also much less playable at IMPs, because, with 4 weak 2s and no opening carrying a promise of more than 13 hcp, you tend to miss games and slams where opener has a very strong hand, though at MPs these are rare enough that it's not a big deal.

  • Strangely enough, I would rather defend than preempt with your KJTxxxx-xx-KTx. The two reasons are your side honors, and the K-J, K-T tenaces that are hard to overcome. This hand should prevent most slams, but it is vulnerable on offense to "offside" cards. You have 7 hcps (8 counting the T/s), not much below the average of 10. I "like" 1100 point penalties only when I see a slam for the opponents, here I don't.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 6, 2015 at 1:50

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