Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Rule of 15

We are West and the last person to bid in the opening round.  We hold the following hand:
Before reaching us the bidding has gone as follows:
North  East   South  West
Pass     Pass   Pass      ?
Our hand only 11 points.  As a general rule any player holding fewer than 12 points should pass.  Can we safely open the bidding or would it be better for us to pass to and for the cards to be redealt?

As no-one else has opened the bidding, it appears that the card points are evenly distributed between the sides.  We know that there is a total of 40 points distributed between the four hands.  We have 11 of them.  That tell us that there are 29 points distributed between the other three players.  We know that no-one has 12 or more points  because if they did they would have opened the bidding.

If we bid, the game might be played in our choice of contract, but it is also possible that the opponents could overcall us.  If that happens, it would have been better for us if we had just passed.

How do we decide if we should open or pass.  This is where the Rule of 15 comes in.  You can read all about it and take a quiz to test your knowledge by clicking here.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Rule of 20

The Rule of 20 is a handy bridge bidding technique which is used in the opening round of bidding.  It has a very specific use, namely helping you to decide if your hand is suitable for making the opening bid.  As a general rule a hand should contain 12 high card points (HCP) to be suitable for making the opening bid.  Occasionally, though, you might have a hand that you think is suitable or opening even if it contains fewer than 12 points.  

How do you decide whether or not to open the bidding in this situation?  You use the Rule of 20.

What is The Rule of 20?

Add up the number of high card points in your hand.  Add to that the length of your two longest suits.  If the total is 20 or more then your hand is suitable to open the bidding.  
How to Use the Rule of 20
The easiest way to explain how to use the rule is to show you some example hands.
Hand 1
(spades) K 10 5 4
(hearts)  J 5 2
(diamonds) A K 9 6 4
(clubs) 7
This hand has 11 HCPs. Our two longest suits are spades and diamonds, which contain 4 and 5 cards.  If we add 11, 4 and 5 we get a total of 20.  This hand satisfies the Rule of 20 and we can open the bidding. 
Hand 2
(s) 6 5
(h) K Q 10 9 5
(d) K Q 6 4 3
(c) 9
This hand has 10 HCPs.  The two longest suits each contain 5 cards.  If we add 10, 5 and 5 we again get a total of 20, so this hand also satisfied the Rule of 20 and we can open the bidding. 
Hand 3
(s) Q 10 7
(h) A J 7
(d) 8 3
(c) K J 8 6 3
Hand 3 has 11 HCPs.  The longest two suits contain 5 cards and 3 cards.  If we add 11, 5 and 3 we get a toal of 19.  This hand DOESN'T satisfy the Rule of 20 so we must pass. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

How To Play Bridge

I also run a beginner's bridge blog with lots of hints and tips on how to play bridge.  You are welcome to head over and take a look.

If you read through the home page of the site you will find a few practice hands and tests designed to help you learn how to play bridge.