opening bid, I have:

S: AKQ9873
D: xx
C: Qx

Could I ever justify opening 4 spades?

I have more than eight tricks in my own hand, with seven of them in spades. At the same time, I fear the weakness of my minor suit doubletons.

  • 1
    Who are you intending to pre-empt out of the auctions? Partner? Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 8:43
  • What is the [house-rules] tag here for? Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 22:14
  • @SevenSidedDie: I think the OP knows that his bidding system is, shall we say, "unconventional" but was wondering if it might be appropriate or at least acceptable in an informal "home" game with players that shared his mind set.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 22:19
  • @TomAu Ah. That would be the wrong use for the tag still, but it would explain why it might have been chosen in the first place. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 22:21

3 Answers 3


Tl;dr: No, bid 1♠.

There are many different sets of bidding conventions in bridge. In the one I learned (some further information here: http://www.rpbridge.net/3j00.htm), 4♠ is a preemptive bid that signals a very long spade suit (which you have) and several points below the regular opening strength of 12 high card points. Your hand is too strong for that (even if you play where the unprotected Qs aren't worth points), so you should bid 1♠ instead and then further tell your partner about your amazing spade suit by rebidding it at your next opportunity, probably jumping a level when you do so (e.g. 1♠ - 2♣ - 3♠).

While other conventions may differ somewhat, it is unlikely that any will tell you to open 4♠ with that hand. This is because, although your hand is quite likely to make 4♠, if your partner has any strength you might be able to make a slam instead, but if you start the bidding high then there's very little bidding space for you and your partner to figure that out.

  • Also the 4S opening categorically denies defensive values outside the bid suit, which this hand has a fair bit of. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 8:42

Your hand is too strong to open four spades.

You might bid like that with AKQ9873 of spades and no other honors. That's because you will be able to take seven tricks in your own hand, but have "no defense" outside of spades. Your ace will likely take one trick against a presumed singleton, but the opponents have a small slam, if partner has nothing.If playing "strong" pre-empts, I might bid four spades with AKQ9873 of spades and Qx of clubs, but two little hearts instead of AQ, in fourth seat, but not first.

With one additional ace in your hand and two queens outside of spades, the opponents do not have a potential slam, and probably no game, since your weakness is in the minor suits. So you don't worry about partner having "nothing," because you can defeat, and probably double your opponents on your own if they tried to outbid you for a game. You have the spade suit, so they will have to bid the game at the five level.

In that case, bid "normally" with one spade, and give partner a chance to respond naturally, since you are in first seat. If you start too high, you are "preempting" partner, not the opponents. With so many extra points coming from extra trumps and "distribution," someone (partner or opponent) is going to bid. Unless this is a very weak group, you will not be passed out. (And if you are, you might want to find another group.)

One other thing: your hand is almost, but not quite good enough for a "demand" bid of two clubs, that forces partner to bid two diamonds (or higher) unless the opponents intervene. Change the queen of clubs to the ace, or a small diamond into the king, and I would bid two clubs. That is a "lower" bid that leaves more room for partner's response than four spades. Depending on what partner has (and bids), you would likely either play the hand, or double the opponents for a profit if you were strong enough to bid two clubs.

  • Let's be clear - the hand is a DK short of a 2C opening. You have to have enough defensive values to double opponents profitably if they outbid you, else you are punishing partner. If partner has 4 spades and out the opponents likely have a red suit slam and you will get stuck guessing whether to take out or leave in partner's double. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 21:53
  • @PieterGeerkens: Amplified my statements, following your suggestions.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 21:57
  • Good. You could also note that: 1) This is a 50 point deck, and so 1S is never getting passed out; and 2) an opening 2C promises that either we buy the hand or opponents will be doubled. The absence of a singleton in your hand is a significant flaw, because if partner has one that gives the opponents a 10-card fit. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 22:00

That particular hand should certainly be opened 1♠. 4♠ is a preempt, as has been noted; it's often a preempt-to-make, meaning a hand that you think has a decent shot at actually making 4♠, but only because of the distribution. However, if you'd make that bid with this hand, how will your partner know whether it's appropriate to bid on to slam?

There is a good convention for handling "strong and long" hands like this, though; NAMYATS. I play that it requires eight cards in the suit, but some play it with seven, and splits the bidding this way:

  • 8 cards, 6-7 tricks: 4♠
  • 8 cards, 8-8.5 tricks: 4♦, with your partner then having the choice of either accepting the transfer (just bidding 4♠), bidding 4♥to give some options (you will then bid 4♠, and he/she can either pass to have you play the hand or can bid on to show a "strong" hand). Also on the table is 4NT (typically a form of Blackwood, though you can play other things there) or 5 of another suit (usually either showing or asking for control, perhaps a splinter-type bid). Advanced partnerships will have very specific meanings for these bids (and often specific to the partnership), and will also have an agreement to tailor hands that are allowed to bid NAMYATS to their bidding system and style.

The same applies for hearts (with clubs being the strong bid). This allows you to tell your partner the difference between a "good" 4♠ and a "poor" one, and gives your partner some very powerful responses.

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