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Let's say I have a 4-4-4-1 distribution. I have somewhere between 20 to 22 points.

What do I bid in this case? 2NT is not possible because of the singleton. 2C is not possible because what would be the rebid after the partner responds - any response promises a 5-carder.

What would be the right bid in this case?

I play Standard American 5 Card Major or 2/1.

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    You're going to have to give us at least some information about what system you're playing. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 4:51
  • @PhilipKendall - added the info.
    – user93353
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 7:56

2 Answers 2

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Don't be afraid to downgrade the strength of a hand by 1 HCP when it is flawed for the call being made. Here, treat a (exactly) 20 HCP hand as just 19 and open 1D.

Remember that it is very rare for a distributional opening 1 bid to get passed out. Partner needs to have a hand with no excuse to respond; RHO needs a hand with no excuse to reopen; and LHO needs a hand with no decent 5-card suit. Just because you have a strong hand doesn't force you to open above the 1-level. With any doubt at all, just open 1D in tempo - Hands opening with a NT bid should be good examples of the type, not bad ones.

As I commented to steenbergh's answer:

Modern treatment (and rules!) now allows the 2NT opening with a singleton K as well [as with a singleton A]. This is an expert call, however, so should only be engaged in if partner is not going to react inappropriately when revealed.

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If the singleton is an Ace (and an Ace only!) a lot of players will open this hand in 2NT. If it isn't an Ace, or if you very explicitly agree with your partner that 20-22 4-4-4-A is not 2NT, then just open in the lowest available 4-card and, if partner answers, jump to indicate points. If opponents start bidding, double*.

'Worst case' scenario is that everybody passes and you're playing a 1-level contract, but oftentimes partner's hand is very limited in these cases and a game-score is very improbable. You'd rather play a 1+2 then a 4-1, right?

(*) Note that opening and then doubling the opponents while Partner passed indicates a pretty strong hand on your side, and since you still have two unbid suits (or at least one if opponets are bidding one of your 4-cards) there is a good chance you will still find a fit with partner. Making this double a penalty is still an option for your partner, if he has length in opponents suit (probably your singleton).

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    Nice answer, but careful with the doubles. If opponents are bidding your singleton's suit, it can get expensive; if not, you may drive them towards it. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:41
  • @TimLymington regardless, I alone hold the majority of the points. Partner might still have one or two points too, and may have some trumps when I don't, creating a threat on both sides of the declarer. And, if your opponents never make a doubled contract against you, you don't double enough.
    – steenbergh
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:49
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    Modern treatment (and rules!) now allows the 2NT call with a singleton K as well. This is an expert call, however, so should only be engaged in if partner is not going to react inappropriately when revealed. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 22:34

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