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Opening on 11 points with 5 card suit.

#1 User is offline   Spock_ 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 01:18

My partner is telling me it is wrong to open on 11 points with 5 card suit. What is the opinion of others?

#2 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 01:27

Points schmoints. If you have honours concentrated in the long suits, a 9 or two in your long suits and a 4card side suit, 10 may even be enough. Especially if you don't play Muiderberg and you are in 1st seat.
Assume that partner will force to game on a misfitting 13 count. If you are ok with that then open.

It's important to have an understanding with partner about how good a hand has to be in order to open. But using points as the only criterion is a bit crude.
As much as I like you guys, you really need to know that this is all complete nonsense --- Pilowsky

#3 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 01:48





These examples are a bit extreme, and Helene said, you have to exercice judgment on the overall « aesthetics » of the hand:
- type of honors
- localization of honors
- intermediate cards
- shape

Is the opening lead-directive? This could just make the difference.

Also, having a major or a minor might affect your decision: opening a minor might lead opps to overcall in a major whereas they might have passed if you do, having S makes it easy to overcall later if you pass first...

Rebid issues could as well influence you, e.g. with 14(35) what will you do if partner bids the expected 1S.

At the end, if partner ends up playing 3NT, would you be ashamed tabling dummy?

In bridge, there are very few « always » and « nevers ». Opening 11-counts in a 12+ opening style is not one of them.

But the most important thing is to be on the same wavelength as partner on judgmental calls, upgrades and downgrades. Will she open QJx QJx QJx QJxx?

#4 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 04:42

My preference is to say "not normally". A typical hand with a typical scattering of points is going to go down in game when partner has a 13 count. If partners never spoke, then any decent 5 card suit is worth bidding!

Where I will open on 11 is when I have two 5 card suits, thus providing more choice of contracts, and more tricks, or a 6 card suit, or the 11 points happen to be AAK, or they are any 11 points in a {1345} shape {ie suits immaterial} and all the points are working, by which I mean roughly that in a given suit the points plus length = 5 or more.

It is all up to partnership style. Mine assumes 12 for an open, and if you deviate downwards the good outcomes should outweigh the bad. Opening on any 10 count is fine if partner is cautious about bidding game with a random 14. The method of scoring is also significant : I believe in IMPs 24 point 8 card fit major games can be worth bidding while in MP they are not.

#5 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 05:06

Did you have a particular example in mind that led to this discussion?
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#6 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 07:21

When I was a junior I had a similar rule - I only opened with 11hcp when holding a 6 card suit. Since then I have lowered my standards somewhat and now prefer to open quite light with unbalanced hands. Truth is, both conservative and aggressive opening styles can be successful. Work with your partner to come up with a compromise you can both live with. Perhaps agree to open 54xx hands but not 5332 hands; or 5431 but not 5422; or 55xx but not 54xx. Or decide you can open 54xx hands with honour concentration in the long suits and pass otherwise. As long as you are both on the same page you will be fine.
(-: Zel :-)

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#7 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 07:48

View PostSpock_, on 2020-November-06, 01:18, said:

My partner is telling me it is wrong to open on 11 points with 5 card suit. What is the opinion of others?
  • K Q K Q x J x x x x x x x, most player would pass but almost everybody opens with
  • A Q x x x K Q x x x x x x
I agree with Helene_t that reliance on HCP is a bit crude. Other considerations are
  • Vulnerability,
  • Position at the table,
  • Shape, for example major-length.
  • Honour distribution/quality,
  • Intermediates and so on.

The LTC (Losing Trick Count) is a good rule of thumb for hand evaluation. Another crude but useful measure is the EBU rule-of-N (HCP + length of 2 longest suits)

But by far the most important factors, are:
  • System. For example, strong club systems seem to tolerate light openings better than 2/1
  • Style. In particular, Spock_ should refrain from opening poor 11 counts if his partner prefers a more Roth-Stone approach.


#8 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 08:40

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-November-06, 07:21, said:

When I was a junior I had a similar rule - I only opened with 11hcp when holding a 6 card suit.

You must have been an odd junior. I thought the rule for a junior was that this was too good for a 1 open :)

#9 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-November-06, 09:54

A key thing not being mentioned here (and very good points are being mentioned here): it's up to the partnership. It doesn't matter (much) if it's right or not, if partner bids expecting stronger. It doesn't matter (much) if it's right or wrong, if you base your invite decisions on minimum opening hands that partner doesn't open. If partner wants you to be more conservative, either agree with him or try to convince him otherwise (this is a difficult thing to do), or find partners who feel the way you do (at least sometimes).

My rule, and pretty standard Flight A in my area, is that with an 11-count, we look for reasons to pass this hand (i.e. "open" is the default, unless those reasons are found). We pass a lot of quacky, or flat, or honours-in-short-suit 11s, but we bid unless the hand convinces us to pass.

However! With my K/S partner (who I play 60-ish% of my games with), I regularly pass badly-shaped 12s (and the odd 13), if I would have to open them 1m rather than 1NT, because partner expects a sound opener or "11+, 6+cards", the "overstrength weak 2". With my Precision partner, I open all 10s that don't look like 9s not vulnerable, because our limit is 15. And so on for all my partnerships. With one 2/1 partner we don't open balanced 11s. With another, they're almost automatic (and we play 14-17 1NT openers because of that).

I think if you're passing all "11s with 5-card Major", you're on the conservative end of modern bridge, and the progression is happening because it's also the losing end. But, especially if your play isn't Flight A yet, the spectre of going down when passing would have done better (or not got to game, and +140 beats -50, even if it loses to several -420s from better players) is so awful that maybe tightening up and going for "the best result possible" rather than "the best possible result"[*] applies here as it does so often elsewhere. Happy partners lead to better scores than scared ones, much more than that one hand would give you.

* S.J. Simon, Why You Lose at Bridge. Bidding is archaic, and much of the discussion revolves around rubber bridge rather than duplicate, but as far as learning how to handle partners and opponents, it's still not been beaten.

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