What is an Opening Bid?
A long time ago when I was in high school I learned to play bridge and my main partner was the boy next door, Mark Cosman. Mark who I have seen rarely recently told me a few years ago his son now plays bridge. I hope he still does.
Mark and I learned to play bridge using Charles Goren’s Point Count Bidding. It does seem kind of quaint now. We played for hours with some other fellows from the neighborhood. In those days bridge clubs were definitely populated by young males.
An opening bid had at least 13 high card points. High card points being counted as today. Distribution points were counted for short suits, 1,2 and 3 for doubleton, singleton and void (when considering suit contracts.)
Over the years I learned to open lighter hands .. because there is an advantage to opening the bidding. But we still taught students that you needed at least 13 points, high cards and distribution together. Instead of counting shortness students in recent years were generally taught to count length points for suits longer than four cards. The results were similar.
So now I come to the US team trials and see this hand. In second chair with everyone not vulnerable both Moss and Meckstroth opened this hand 1♦. Would you?
Pluses: You have two and a half quick tricks. Aces are worth more than four points. You are not 4-3-3-3. You have good diamond spots. And all your high cards are in your longer suits
Minuses: You don’t have a long suit. You don’t have much distribution. You only have 10 high card points … okay maybe 11 is you want to count AQ as seven or six and a half.
I was thinking about whether there is a difference in choosing to open this hand in first chair or second chair. I can’t come up with a reason why it would make a difference.
Anyways both Meckstroth and Moss opened it 1♦ . In checking the other tables playing in the team trials there were some that opened and quite a few that didn’t.
Opening the bidding is obviously an advantage but as the required values go down, the spread (the most and least opener can have) becomes greater which is a disadvantage.
Most players change the values required to open by seat opening lighter hands in third chair. In third chair there are many other considerations too .. desired opening lead being one.
Fourth chair? Partner is a passed hand (and passing for some pairs seems to show bird poo). So I think most players would probably not reduce opening bid requirements much.
How likely are you to make this game? First there is a chance of a heart ruff if hearts are 4-1. This is not inconsiderable because if hearts are 4-1 there is a good chance that the long heart hand can get the lead (whoever has the spade ace) and give partner a ruff. You also have to pick up spades for one loser. Sometimes you can’t and sometimes you have to guess (for example, is the spade jack doubleton offside or third onside?) Definitely a good game vulnerable but not quite so clear not vulnerable.
What happens next? At the Meckwell table the pair got to four spades after Rodwell responded 1♠ and Meckstroth showed a minimum balanced hand with three card spade support. With everything friendly the game was a make.
In the other room a curious thing happened South also opened 1♦ (which just shows how old fashioned I am) but this time West, Weinstein, doubled on the balanced 14 count. Grue passed awaiting developments and now it was up to East Levin. With a four count and five good diamonds he decided to tough it out. When Moss also passed he found himself playing 1♦ doubled on the 4-1. With the good diamond spots and things breaking North-South can make six tricks in diamonds for one down.
As I sit and look at the deal now I wonder if I would have passed 1♦ doubled on Grue’s hand? I guess he can defend most things but there was just that danger that the East might have a diamond stack. What do you think?
With the spade AJx onside and no bad distribution 4S was made… sometimes bridge is an easy game. 11 imps to the Nickell team who at the end of the segment had narrowed Fleisher’s lead to just 6 imps (103-109) at the halfway mark of the match.