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With no one vulnerable, partner opened 1 diamond after one pass. I bid one heart with the following:

♠ J985 ♡ AT852 ♢95 ♣ A9. Partner rebid 2 clubs. I tried 2NT, thinking that partner had the minor suits covered and I had the majors. We went down four, and I was surprised so see that partner had bid with ♠ A6 ♡ Q ♢KT763 ♣ J7532. I wouldn't open with such a weak hand, but if I had, I would "sign off" at 1NT (non-forcing).

I had considered partner's sequence "somewhat strong," and put him on a minimum of something like ♠ A6 ♡ 2 ♢KQ763 ♣ QJ753. We would still have gone down one or two, but that would be better than down four.

A number of people in our club open "light" with 5-5 and 10 high card points even in first and second position. (And I didn't feel that partner had a full "10" because of the "stranded" Q of hearts and the doubleton spade ace, both outside his main suits.) Is this peculiar to our club or are players "generally" opening this way? And if they do, would it have been better for me to bid two diamonds rather than 2NT on my second turn?

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    Bridge is a partnership game. You're not going to get better at bridge without regular partners with whom you have discussed these matters and made agreements. (Also, if the state of your bidding agreements is that these matters are undiscussed, I cannot imagine your lack of carding agreements!) Commented May 13 at 5:06
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    I agree that 1NT is nonforcing, but so is 2C! A new suit by opener is not forcing unless it is a reverse or a jump.
    – ruds
    Commented May 13 at 5:09
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    That 1♢ opening is laughable
    – Tvde1
    Commented May 13 at 14:48
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    @TomAu - then you shouldn't be asking us these questions; you should be asking your partner. And if your partner doesn't care enough about bridge to discuss this, then your options are to not care about it either (when playing with them) or to stop playing with them. It is futile to care about your results playing with a partner who doesn't. Commented May 13 at 15:01
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    @TomAu: Sort of agreeing with the above comment. You may be "having to play the 'partner'", but your questions are frequently "was I wrong, or partner"? Which won't help - because that's not playing "partner". If you have to "play partner", then learn how to work out "partner", and how to "play partner". Or - and this is a serious option - become "partner" yourself, state your preferences, and make partner play "you" - at least in things you find yourself inflexible on. More fleshed out at the end of my answer.
    – Mycroft
    Commented May 13 at 16:50

2 Answers 2

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  1. I think your second bid should be 2D. A rebid of 2N should promise an invitational hand, and I don't think that hand qualifies, particularly since you have a misfit (and hence partner's 5th diamond or fifth club is less likely to set up as a trick).

  2. A rebid of 1N should promise a balanced hand. A hand with a singleton (particularly a singleton honor) in partner's suit is sometimes okay with no good other bid, but a hand with a singleton and a doubleton is not. The proper rebid on partner's hand is 2C, which should not promise a stronger hand than 1N, just a more distributional one.

  3. Opening 10 counts like that can work, particularly at matchpoints, but I would consider that unusually light except in a partnership that has agreed to open light. (In my Precision partnership I would open that 10 count all the time except at unfavorable, and sometimes even at unfavorable. In my modernized-Kaplan-Sheinwold partnership I would pass always.)

  4. Playing usual in North America 2/1 methods, I would prefer to open 5-5 10 counts only if the values are concentrated in the long suits. But this is a matter of partnership agreement, and I'm happy to do what my partner wants.

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  • I needed to ask the question to get a sense of whether this was "modern" or "unusual" bidding. Even for my club, this is extreme. A week ago, I had an open following the same sequence with x xx AQxxx KJxxx; 10 points but highly coordinated. Here, I'm dealing with a partner who has no idea of a "good 10" vs. a "bad 10." To him, "ten is ten" and "five cards is five cards." Now that I have this sense, I can deal more effectively with this an other partners.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 14 at 3:21
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    I'm also likely to open a weak 5-5 if the suits are majors. When your suits are minors, the usual goal is a NT game, which usually requires full high-card values because you need to take your tricks quickly.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 14 at 15:13
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In addition to what @Alexander Woo says, I disagree that the 5=5 minor hand should rebid a "limiting" (not "signoff". You're unlimited) 1NT. Treatments (and system continuations) vary about whether 1NT with a singleton in partner's suit is acceptable, but:

  1. If you're on the side of "singleton is okay", it should be a hand that "looks like balanced" if that singleton heart was ♥62. Opener does not "look like balanced", it looks like a hand that wants to play in one of their suits (after all, that's why they opened it, right? The strength certainly isn't in the HCP, it's in the shape - and that works in a suit, barring a good fit and cards in your hand).

    • side note, the other reason you don't want partner to "sign off" 1NT is that you will play him for 12-14, won't you? If you raised to 2NT with a 4=5=2=2 11, or 3NT with a good 12, and went down three or four, you'd be just as questioning of that rebid as you are of 2♣ on this hand. And with good reason.
  2. I'm on the side of "singletons are not okay" (admittedly, for reasons outside the scope of this question). But especially if you are also not a fan of "raise on 3", or minimize raises on 3 by requiring ♠x or xx or the like, hands like yours should be expected and able to sign off (yes, this time it is; 1NT has limited partner's hand) in 2♥. After all, you frequently could have a 5-3 heart fit, and potential ruffs in both hands. So to people in this camp, 1NT is wrong for another (critical) reason.

Going back to Alexander Woo's answer, hard agreeing with 1. 2♣ isn't forcing (although it can be much stronger than 1NT, say 16, 17). You don't have enough to invite opposite their minimum; so show your "preference" (ignoring the 4=5 1♦ people here, for whom this is the fail case). Partner with enough for game opposite two aces and a misfit will make a try, and you will accept. Partner without enough for game will play 2♦ and hope to make it. Better chance than in 2NT, at least.

I also agree that this hand shouldn't open (frankly, probably not even playing Precision). Yes, opening is better than passing at winning the partscore, but 1♦, as discussed in your other question, is a limp squib (leaving open both majors at the 1 level, and a double for both they don't have if you pass), and having both minors means that the opponents have the majors and will find them - in which case, not only will you probably lose the partscore battle, the opponents will have better information about the shape in the play). If not, then it's the misfit trap you see here.

Both majors 5=5, potentially with the ace in one of the suits, too, is why "rule of 20" was invented. But this hand isn't that.

Re: cutaround, "spare", or otherwise pickup bridge. Yes, you don't have the opportunity to deep-dive into partnership subtle agreements, but you have the benefit that you do have a decent idea how your many partners think, because you've played with everyone - as well as playing against them. Take advantage of that! You are keeping notes, yes? (not written down, necessarily, but maybe that's right for you!) You are paying attention to the styles of your opponents, preparing for when it's your turn to play with them? So you know, from experience, that there are "some in the club" that open light on shape (and maybe on the wrong suits or concentrations of values). Is this partner one of them? If they are, when they're your CHO, give them a little leeway, and don't bid as if they're in the solid, sound openers camp. They know how to handle their shape calls better than you (from frequency, if nothing else) - if you let them.

Or, if you aren't willing to accept the results you get from "not hanging your partner", or can't (yet) analyze correctly opposite "they could be pushing too", it's time for you to clarify your style to partner instead, and ask them, no matter what they do with their regulars, not to set you up with these kinds of bids. Do not say it's wrong, or bad, or anything else opinionish, but "I statements": "I'm sorry, I'm used to playing sound openers. Could you do that for me this session, please?"

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  • I don't understand your comment, "You don't have enough to invite opposite their minimum; s. I counted my hand as a good nine, almost 10 with two aces, a J, and plenty of Ts, 9s, and 8s. I figured that we would go down 1 at 2NT if partner had 12, make it if he had 14, and make 3NT if he had 16. Extrapolating, we might have gone down 2 if he had 10, except that he had a "bad" 10, with 60% of his points outside his two main suits.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 13 at 17:36
  • Partner is say 11-16, and 5-4 in the minors at least (without 4 hearts. Probably not 1=3=5=4. Maybe not 2=2=5=4). Yuck. 11 + 9 is 20, and you do not want to be in 2NT with a misfit 20. Therefore, you do not have enough to invite. Really, you only want to "invite" when there are two categories, even if those are "minimum" and "extras". Even in your comment, you've agreed there are 3 here. So pass the buck to partner (showing a minimum without great fit) and be prepared to answer "good min or bad min" if they have the max.
    – Mycroft
    Commented May 13 at 18:02
  • The other issue is that because invites are designed around "minimum" and "extras", partner would, and should, have bid 3 on the hands that you are saying here "probably make 2". Note: the biggest flaw in "standard" systems including 2/1, the thing that all the non-standard systems exist to solve, is the wide range of opener's rebids in auctions like this (or 1D-1H; 2D). You just can't precisely deal with 11-17 (or 11-bad 16) opposite 6+ without some hands dropping through the cracks (too high or too low). We do our best, but there will be some failures.
    – Mycroft
    Commented May 13 at 18:11
  • Oh, and: "plenty of Ts, 9s and 8s." Agree, and that's worth thinking about. You have a good minimum (hence, "if they invite, accept"). But - I would trust that your minor 9s are pulling their weight; they will usually fill in partner's suits. Your major intermediates, however, are worth less, without honours in partner's hand to "fill in" (or a fit, which you know you don't have). If partner has those honours with a minimum, then their own suits are weak - in which case, as you saw, your minor 9s don't full pull either.
    – Mycroft
    Commented May 13 at 18:22

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