At matchpoints, with only us vulnerable, I opened one heart in third position (after two passes) with the following: ♠ AK ♡QJT98432 ♢3 ♣ K9.

Despite my eight hearts, I elected not to preempt in order not to shut out my partner. I let the opponents push me up to three hearts. We made four, but shared a bottom because most other pairs with our cards made four hearts.

I had eight tricks in hand. Partner, who did not bid, turned up with the ace of diamonds for the ninth. The tenth came from a club finesse to my king which I was then able to take, and which worked because the ace was "onside."

One opponent told me that I should have opened four hearts with the hand. I did not want to bid (without hearing from partner about the possible trick and resulting finesse).

Another opponent opined that I should have opened a strong two clubs. I had the required 8.5 tricks, but limited defense, so I did not consider that an option. Specifically, I was worried that I was missing to two top heart honors.

Were either of these options clearly better than opening one heart?

  • I don't think 1H is indefensible here as an opening. Slam is not out of the picture, e.g. is 50-50 if partner has Ace of hearts and Ace of clubs. I would probably open 4H though because it's matchpoints and you're vulnerable, which means missing a thin slam isn't a catastrophe (whereas letting the opponents find a spade fit might be).
    – hunter
    Commented Apr 6 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


In 3rd seat - yes I think you should open 4H.

If partner has 1 trick, then 4H has good chances.

If partner does not have 1 trick, then 4H is quite likely to be a profitable sacrifice undoubled, possibly even doubled.

Since partner is a passed hand, you don't have to worry about partner having 3 tricks for you to have a good slam - that's the big potential gain from opening 1H.

Given that you want to be in 4H pretty much no matter what, you should bid it right away. You don't want the opponents to find their own making game (quite possible) or their own possible sacrifice (also quite possible), or find the double of 4H when it's right, all of which are much easier after you open 1H.

Don't open 2C - you're asking for the auction to go 2C-(2S)-P-(4S) - now do you bid 5H? At least after 1H-(1S)-P-(4S) your partner knows what suit you have.

  • There are other reasons not to open 2C. This hand doesn't have nearly the defense partner should expect. Also it would be an illegal psych in acbl events, in which 2C must meet the minimum requirements for a Very Strong hand: one of (a) >= 20 hcp (b) >= 14 hcp and within one trick of game, (c) >= 5 control points and within one trick of game. This hand has 13 hcp, 4 control points, and is at least 2.5 tricks from game.
    – ruds
    Commented Jan 31 at 13:49

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