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With no one vulnerable, I opened one club in fourth position at matchpoints after three passes with the following:♠ J752 ♡AJ6 ♢A4 ♣ QT52. I did so because people at our club who pass with 12 high card points or more, even a "nondescript" hand, tend to get bottoms.

Partner bid one heart, and I passed, since I didn't see a way to a better contract. We got a top because all the two level contracts and 1NT failed. More to the point, this result was in line with my expectations, based on the way members of our club play.

Partner was upset because I passed him out instead of bidding one spade, with my four (weak) spades. He claimed that if he had four, we would have gotten a better score by making two spades instead of one heart. But he only had three spades, and as I feared, his three of my spades, K64 were worse than my AJ2 of his hearts. And if he had only two, we would have gone down at 1 NT or in a two level suit contract that we would have to escape to.

I felt that it was best to "leave well enough alone," and settle for "any port in a storm," that is, a contract that I thought would bring us a top or a near top.

Was my posture appropriate at 1) rubber 2) matchpoints generally and 3) at matchpoints within the context of our club.

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    One comment that might give useful perspective: All of the rules for bidding tend to be "absolute" rules, that is, what sequences are likely to lead to the best scores in a vacuum. You've described well a situation where "relative" rules, that is, what sequences are likely to lead to the best scores relative to the group of people in the room, should indeed come into play. If you have extra relative information, it makes sense to use it in decisions! It's analogous to playing poker, where playing pure odds isn't enough—one needs to read the other players. Aug 8, 2023 at 16:55
  • I would rebid 1N. (Well, in most of my partnerships, particularly ones I care about, I'd open 1N.) Aug 8, 2023 at 21:05
  • I would not pass. Partner could have x; KQxxx; xxx; KJxx and you've missed a game. (Okay - you won't find that game anyway, but add a random Q.) Aug 8, 2023 at 21:09
  • @AlexanderWoo: Your idea may work in rubber bridge or even IMPs. But in matchpoints, I am less worried about missing the occasional game than running the risk of overbidding displayed by three out of four pairs (the other three). Espeically against "this" group. We beat three other pairs, and the others tied for a bottom.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 11, 2023 at 2:31
  • @TomAu: I treat club games as practice for tournaments. Aug 11, 2023 at 2:45

2 Answers 2

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When opening light in fourth seat, the goal is simply to get a positive score. Any positive score. Some partnerships will lose control and get too high; others will decline to open. Your decisions here are absolutely reasonable, and succeeded in the goal of bettering the zero score available by passing.

While the precise criteria for making such an opening call vary across the various game styles, the goal does not. Having made the opening, getting out in the first reasonable shot at a plus is the correct action.

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    "Some partnerships will lose control and get too high; others will decline to open. " Both particularly true in our club. The safe score is the best score.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 8, 2023 at 10:31
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    And if you're trying to decide whether to open a minor in 3rd or 4th seat, consider whether you have a hand that's suitable to pass whatever partner is likely to bid. A hand with support for both majors fits the bill.
    – Barmar
    Aug 8, 2023 at 14:51
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He claimed that if he had four, we would have gotten a better score by making two spades instead of one heart

Err, OK. But so what? "IF" is a big word here. What if he had no spades? Or only 1? Then he'd have to bid again and down you would go.

You know he has at least four hearts, you have no idea how many spades he has. And you are pretty sure you want to be in a part score.

In rubber bridge ... I might bid on. But not in MP. Take your plus.

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