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what suit to open with 4-4-3-2 and 4-4-4-1 hands Conflicting Advice on Acol cribsheets

#1 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2014-August-18, 09:39

Is there a fairly agreed position among BBO experts on this? I'd like to reach an agreement with my partner. Having checked out Acol cribsheets from various "authorities" there seems to be a wide divergence of advice.

With regard to which of two 4 card suits to open......

BidandMade says "Two 4-card suits always bid lower ranking first, if not rebidding NT"

NoFear says "The higher ranking of any two equal length suits. Exception: with 4 Hearts and 4 Spades open 1"

Mr Bridge says "4-4 Bid the MAJOR. Both majors bid 1.Both minors bid 1"

EBU says: "With two suits of equal length, with exactly 4 hearts and 4 spades open 1, otherwise open the higher ranking suit."

EBU and NoFear say the same thing, I think. Mr Bridge reverses the hierarchy for two minors. Bid&Made is the same as Mr Bridge except that the hierarchy for Diamonds and Hearts is reversed.

The only thing everyone is agreed on is that hearts are that with hearts and spades you bid 1


And with 4-4-4-1 hands....

Bid&Made says: "open suit below singleton ..unless it's in Clubs, bid .

NoFear says:"With a red suit singleton open the suit below singleton. With a black suit singleton open the middle of the 3 touching suits."

Mr Bridge says: "Open suit below the singleton except with a club singleton open 1."

EBU says: "With a red suit singleton open the suit below the singleton. With a black suit singleton open the middle of the three suits

Only the EBU and No Fear are the same here. There are three different recommendations for what to open with a spade singleton (I think!).

I had to lie down after trying to compare them!!
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#2 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-August-18, 09:54

With 4441 shapes I think almost all experts recommend the middle suit except when the singleton is diamonds in which case you open 1c. At least with less than 15 points you have to do that. With 15+ you have more freedom since you can rebid notrumps if partner bids your singleton . But most prefer to be consistent .
With balanced hands you have to open 1h with both majors but other than that there is no concencus . My personal opinion is that if you don't open the major you are effectively playing five card majors and it would be better, then, to switch to five card majors .
... I am not at all keen on arriving at the 4 level with no idea of where our fit(s) might be. --- Zelandakh
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2014-August-18, 10:02

There are at least two general schools of thought.

Consider 4M4m32 hands.

One school opens the major which is good for obstructive bidding.

The other opens the minor, has an artificial ask over a 1N rebid to find the major, this can be better for constructive bidding.

My own personal preference which applies to 2 and 3 4 card suits in a hand:

Open diamonds if you have them
If you don't, open clubs
If you don't have them, open hearts
1 is 4333 only unless you decide to play a 5 card spade in which case you open 1.

I would only play like this if I was playing an artificial ask over 1x-1y-1N (look up checkback or if you like as we do widen the range of a 1N rebid, look up Crowhurst)
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#4 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2014-August-18, 10:24

I have had a look at Crowhurst. A bit advanced for us just yet, but in time..... :unsure:
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#5 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-August-19, 22:23

OK, Acol context.

Essentially they are all correct. There are several standards. You just have to agree with your partner how YOU are going to play it.

And may I suggest that when sitting down with a pickup, this should rank up there among the higher priorities to discuss and agree, before you start talking about Lebensohl and such?

It might help if you understand why the different standards are advocated by some; ie what are the supposed advantages of one over the other. You can then assess how these methods fit with your own priorities, in order to enable you to suggest a preferred method with a new partner on an informed basis.

With 4432 shape the only absolute is to open 1H with both majors.

Otherwise the basic rationale is: Opening the major suit makes for a simpler system at the expense of accuracy. The accuracy that you concede is, for an absolute beginner, a price worth paying for the prize of simplicity. ie, the simplicity gained is sufficiently dramatic, and the loss of accuracy sufficiently slight, that the trade-off is worthwhile. After you have some experience under your belt and can cope with a marginal increase in complexity, so the priorities change and you migrate toward the increased accuracy of opening the minor.

There are hands where opening the major has some pre-emptive effect, when constructive accuracy drops in priority, adding to the benefit of opening the major.

The main problem with opening the minor is that you may need to introduce a mechanism to investigate a possible fit in the major that does not immediately come to light with the first response, such as new minor forcing and similar methods, as well as finding the major fit in a contested auction.

The main problem with opening the major is you put a lot of pressure on the non-forcing 1N response, which can be on a wide range of both values and distributions, as well as wrong-siding the contract.

With 4441 hands there tends to be more agreement but there is still scope for variation.

With singleton Spade, opening 1H obviously maxes your chances of finding H fit, The problem is that if responder bids 1S you have a 50:50 guess which minor to rebid, when it matters (you might rebid 1N with 15). By opening 1D you have a safe and unique rebid in 2C. This risks missing H fit if responder is 5-4 in majors, but maxes your overall chance of landing in a playable fit of some sort.

Most agree that opening a minor is preferred over a major when 4441. An exception is with singleton Club. In that case you have to consider your rebid after a 2C response. Some still open 1D and then rebid 2D on a 4 card suit. No-one would suggest that to a beginner, so books are pretty consistent in saying open 1H with this.

With stiff Heart you won't go far wrong with 1D, but the benefits are less marked and most of the time you can cope with 1C, again subject to a bit of complexity.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#6 User is offline   broze 

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Posted 2014-August-20, 08:51

I've always wondered what is the point of playing 4 card Majors if you don't open the Major when you are 4-4. And once you start playing 5 card spade, you really may as well be playing 5 card Majors.
'In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.' - Douglas Adams
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#7 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-August-20, 09:19

I sometimes wonder why some believe that one extreme or the other is necessarily optimal. In most areas of life that is not the case.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#8 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2014-August-20, 09:24

 broze, on 2014-August-20, 08:51, said:

I've always wondered what is the point of playing 4 card Majors if you don't open the Major when you are 4-4. And once you start playing 5 card spade, you really may as well be playing 5 card Majors.


Realistically the gains from opening the minor but playing 4 card majors are opening 1 when 4-4 in the majors, and as causes some big arguments when I post my auctions where short clubbers have failed to find their club fit, that you can bid minor suit hands more accurately knowing partner actually has some. The 5 card spade is no big loss, as you only open a 4 card spade when exactly 4333, you can equally play a 4 card spade and respond as if it's a 5 card suit.
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#9 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-August-20, 10:33

With 4333 I'd rather pretend to have four clubs than to have five spades.

On topic: if you open the major and partner bids your minor you have an awkward rebid. Raising the minor sounds like a weak unbalanced hand. Bidding 2nt with a small doubleton is not ideal either.

If you don't play Crowhurst and you don't want to sell balanced hands as twosuited you should generally open the major but you could open 1d with both red suits. The rule could be: open the lower of touching suits.

There's also a case for opening the better suit. Except of course with both majors.

I know a pair that open the weaker suit when they have both minors. To inhibit the lead. I tried to convince them that they should prealert this or alternatively volunteer the information when they become declarer in nt after having opened 1m
... I am not at all keen on arriving at the 4 level with no idea of where our fit(s) might be. --- Zelandakh
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#10 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2014-August-20, 10:43

 helene_t, on 2014-August-20, 10:33, said:

With 4333 I'd rather pretend to have four clubs than to have five spades.

On topic: if you open the major and partner bids your minor you have an awkward rebid. Raising the minor sounds like a weak unbalanced hand. Bidding 2nt with a small doubleton is not ideal either.



Not arguing with the first point.

1M-2m-2N is game forcing in modern Acol weak NT, so you can afford to use it as a general GF and not necessarily be balanced/stopped.
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#11 User is offline   EricK 

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Posted 2014-August-21, 10:12

As an amusing aside, on Monday, someone opened a 4-4-1-4 hand against me with 1. He then rebid 2. When asked at the end why he had done this he quoted the rule: "always open the suit below the singleton, unless it's ". And as he correctly pointed out, the suit below the singleton was , so he didn't open it.
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#12 User is offline   gszes 

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Posted 2014-August-25, 11:32

4441 type hands give most players fits because all players want to be able to
show their entire distribution so their side can get to the best conceivable
contract. A laudable goal rarely achieved in practice. IMHO acol and natural
5 card major systems can all use the following advice.

Open your LOWEST ranking 4 card suit.

This is not only totally easy to remember it happens to allow for our side to
have the best chance of finding a fit with the least amount of risk. Be prepared
to rebid 1N a LOT if you have no convenient 2nd bid available. One HUGE benefit of
opening with your lowest is this will create the greatest number of chances for a
simple rebid (assuming your partnership bids up the line).

You will rarely go really wrong when you stick to the above advice BUT you can
deviate from this advice when you have 1 suit that is at least 3 times as strong
as the other 2 suits. x AKQx Kxxx xxxx open 1H (acol players all applaud and even
5 card major bidders can appreciate this).

If your hand is good enough to reverse it will almost always be right to begin with
your lowest (or 2nd lowest if your lowest is terrible) and reverse into the best of the
remaining two suits.

As your skill in bidding improves you can adopt a more comprehensive method of opening
4441 type hands but aside from adopting a special convention to specifically show these types
of hands you can use this simple form of advice for a long long time.

With 4432 hands I try to always open the lowest 4 card suit but will open the 3 card suit
if it is a good lead director (at least 6 hcp in the suit) and below the 2 4 card suits. Once
again a simple rule that ACOLITES may indeed hate and understandably ignore (because of
distributional problems).
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#13 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-August-25, 12:02

 gszes, on 2014-August-25, 11:32, said:

Open your LOWEST ranking 4 card suit.


Be prepared to rebid 1N a LOT if you have no convenient 2nd bid available.


A potential downside to this approach is that your 1N rebid may have a defined strength range which does not coincide with your hand.


Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#14 User is offline   gszes 

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Posted 2014-August-25, 18:17

 1eyedjack, on 2014-August-25, 12:02, said:

A potential downside to this approach is that your 1N rebid may have a defined strength range which does not coincide with your hand.

This is true but it is primarily a problem when our singleton is in spades. There is a pretty
darn good chance the hand will not play as well as normal and should have a downgrade anyway.
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#15 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-August-25, 20:49

It is also a problem when the singleton is Clubs. A few players are getting used to the sequence 1D-2C-2D only promising 4 Diamonds (specifically when 4-4-4-1), usually because they have adopted 5 card majors in a weak 1N structure. Some dedicate a 2 level opener for this hand type (and others).

But this is drifting away from Novice/Beginner forum stuff. If I were teaching Acol to a beginner I would definitely be recommending opening 1H with a singleton Club. With a singleton Spade I would offer a choice of 1D or 1H, express a preference for 1D, but explain to them that some partners may prefer them to open 1H, and why.

If I felt that they were up to it, I might point out that 1C opener with 1-4-4-4 may work out OK if they have 15-17 HCP, prepared to rebid 1N over 1S response (and would recommend that rebid anyway whatever they opened, but that may be a bit avant garde for some here).


Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#16 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-August-25, 21:19

Sometimes we tend to forget that the uncontested auction is a minority case. With, say
S:xx
H:Kxx
D:AKxx
C:KQxx
Opening 1D may be less stressful than opening 1C, when the auction proceeds

S.....W....N....E
1D...1S...X...P
??

You were all prepared to rebid 1N until W stuck his oar in.
Perhaps 1N is still right. RHO has not raised.
If you had opened 1C your options are more stressed. Partner's X may promise 4 Hearts but these days does not promise 4D nor deny 4 Clubs.

This may not be the best example hand. Contested auctions can be many and varied. Having a lower ranking suit available as a fall-back option may be a lifeline in some of them when your "prepared" rebid in NT may be more exposed due to enemy action.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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