With the following hand should I open with 3 spades to let my partner know I have a 7 spades?

This is my hand

  • ♠ AK87642
  • ♥ T3
  • ♦ 4
  • ♣ JT8

I am a beginner.

  • I can understand that you may not have enough information to answer, but I find it odd that everyone would just vote to close without telling OP exactly what is needed to answer it, especially given that they're new here.
    – D M
    Jul 20 '20 at 1:09

Playing any natural system, or any system where the opening of 3 Spades or 4 Spades is played as natural, I would open 3 Spades Vulnerable and 4 Spades Not Vulnerable.

Some may prefer to open just 3 Spades in both vulnerabilities, but that is likely more a matter of partnership style and agreement. This should be discussed with partner, as some partnerships are stricter than others on the need for an 8-card suit to open 4S.

The key qualities of a hand considering an opening of 3 or 4 Spades are:

  • A 7-card or longer suit of good quality - a standard requirement for opening bids of either 3S or 4S for most partnerships playing traditional preempts. This Spade suit clearly qualifies

  • No significant defensive values outside the suit opened. Your holding of:

    ♥: T3
    ♦: 4
    ♣: JT8

    meets that eminently. The Club holding even has the potential of a slight additional offensive value, with little defensive prospect.

  • Roughly 8 -10 High Card Points. At just 8, all but one in the opened suit. this hand is perfect. The point here is that as your hand will take just one call, this one, the hand should be such as to have no other values that might result in an erroneous decision by partner.

  • The reasonable prospect of taking within 3 tricks of the bid Not Vulnerable and 2 tricks of the bid Vulnerable (to limit loss if the opponents opt to double and defend). With 6.5 Spade tricks and 1/4 offensive trick in Clubs in hand, again the expectation is met.

In summary: you could do far worse than to hold this hand in your mind as being relatively close to a model opening preempt in a Major suit - of 4 Not Vulnerable and 3 Vulnerable. (The minors have more complex issues even for early intermediates, but at your stage just ignore that with the proviso of a pending amendment.)

Alexander Woo makes the point below that opposing vulnerability is also relevant to a decision between opening 3♠ or 4♠. Less aggressive partnerships might choose to open 4♠ only at favourable Vulnerability (i.e. Not Vulnerable vs Vulnerable opponents). This is probably the more general practice when considering a 4♠ opening, as here, on a 7-card suit. However this should be discussed with partner an an agreement reached. An accumulation of even small differences in choice of call can, over time, undermine the partnership confidence required to play good bridge.

A consideration that may seem irrelevant when one is learning bridge, but becomes of ever increasing significance as one's own, and one's opponents', skill increases, is that preempts gain in the bidding but lose in the play. If opponents win the hand, the opening preempt has frequently provided a roadmap to avoiding the consequences of a bad break.

This is where the significance of playing sound preempts shows up. When partner can make sound and successful raise/pass/double decisions, boldly and with confidence, your preempt has truly achieved the goal of interfering with the opponents' successful bidding. If partner must instead hesitate, your preempt is probably just helping the opponents overall by keying their Declarer (and even Defense) play.

  • 2
    I think I'm opening 4S not vul vs vul and 3S otherwise. But I agree it's a matter of taste, partnership agreement, seat, and how eager to bid LHO looks. Apr 18 '20 at 7:50
  • @AlexanderWoo: Excellent point - I have added that to the answer. Apr 18 '20 at 16:43

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