On Opening 4441 Hands

Submitted by English Bridge Union on

Drawing of a hand of playing cards showing Spades (King, 10, 9, 5), Hearts (6), Clubs (King, 7, 6, 2) and Diamonds (Ace, Queen, Jack, 7) on a green background

In this week's blog, bridge teacher Jeremy Childs, shares some of his thoughts on opening 4441 hands:

We all hate them, and there are numerous ways of bidding them:

  • Suit below the Singleton
  • Taps (Hot and Cold) (as suggested by Andrew Robson)
  • Suit below if black, middle of 3 if red (EBED)

I would like to propose a new method.

I am very methodical in my approach to bidding, and try to start from some basic principles that, when things get difficult, help me decide what is the best / least worst bid.

One of those principles is that I never aim to play in a minor contract unless absolutely forced to.  From this (and others) come 2 golden rules:

  1. Don’t lie about your points
  2. Don’t lie about the length of your majors

If you have to break one of them, break the second.

So how does this affect 4441 hands?

If you open a major, and partner does not raise you, any rebid will show 5 in the major, breaking rule 2.

If you open a minor, and partner does not raise you, any rebid will show 5 in the minor, which is OK by me.

Does this work in all 4 Cases?

For a singleton spade, heart and diamond, yes it does. Open 1D for the first two, 1C for the third.  You won’t miss a major fit and will only have lied about a 5th club/diamond.

What about the really awkward one – the singleton club?

If you open 1D and partner bids 2C, you have to rebid diamonds with only 4 (cue sharp intake of breath).  But why is that worse than showing a 5th diamond you haven’t got when your rebid is a different suit?

In fact I think it’s quite sensible.  You're unlikely to stay there – partner has 9/10+ and you have 12/13+ so 2NT is probably a better contract.  You haven’t missed a major fit, and with at most 6 cards in the majors partner is unlikely to be short in diamonds.

The method has the advantage of being easy to explain: Open 1D unless a diamond singleton, then open 1C.  

It also means that if you open a major and rebid another suit, you MUST have 5+ of the opening major.

I’d appreciate any thoughts to jeremy.m.child@gmail.com.

Blog tags