The Opening Bid

The opening bid sets in motion a chain of bids which terminate in a final contract.

First work out the shape of your hand – whether it is balanced or unbalanced. If it is balanced calculate the number of High Card Points it contains and bid according to the Balanced Hand table. If it is unbalanced then calculate the number of Total Points it contains and then bid according to the Unbalanced Hand table.

Bidding with a balanced hand

High Card PointsOpening Bid
20-21 HCP2NT
18-19 HCPOpen as if an
unbalanced hand
15-17 HCP1NT
13-14 HCPOpen as if an
unbalanced hand
Balanced Hand Opening Bids And Planned Rebids

Bidding with an unbalanced hand

Total PointsOpening Bid
21+ TP2♣︎
13-21 TP1 of a Suit
0-12 TPPass
Unbalanced Hand Opening Bids And Planned Rebids

Examples

♠︎ A K 10 7
♥︎ Q 7 5
♦︎ Q 5 4 2
♣︎ A 2

This hand has shape 4-4-3-2. It is balanced with 15 HCP and so you bid 1NT.

♠︎ K Q
♥︎ Q J 9 6 2
♦︎ K Q
♣︎ Q 8 7 4

This hand has shape 5-4-2-2. It is unbalanced with 16 TP. The longest suit is a 5 card suit and so you bid that suit. Bid 1♥︎.

♠︎ K Q 9
♥︎ Q 10 6
♦︎ K Q 2
♣︎ Q 8 7 4

This hand has shape 4-3-3-3. It is balanced and has 14 HCP, so open the bidding as if it were unbalanced. It has 14 TP and the longest suit is a 4 card suit and so bid the longest minor. Bid 1♣︎.

♠︎ 9
♥︎ K Q 10 6
♦︎ K Q J 2
♣︎ Q 8 7 4

This hand has shape 4-4-4-1. It is unbalanced and has 13 TP. The longest suit is a 4 card suit and so you bid the longest minor suit. Since both minor suits have 4 cards you bid the higher ranking. Bid 1♦︎.

♠︎ K Q 9 4
♥︎ Q 10 6
♦︎ K Q 2
♣︎ Q 8 7

This hand has shape 4-3-3-2. It is balanced and has 14 HCP, so open the bidding as if it were unbalanced. It has 14 TP and the longest suit is a 4 card suit. Open the bidding with the longest minor suit. Since both minor suits have 3 cards you bid the lower ranking. Bid 1♣︎.

♠︎ 10 9 5
♥︎ 8 4
♦︎ 9 7 3
♣︎ A 9 8 6 3

This hand has shape 5-3-3-2. It is balanced and has 4 HCP and so open the bidding as if it were unbalanced. It has 5 TP. Pass.

♠︎ 10 9
♥︎ 8 4
♦︎ 9 7 3
♣︎ A 9 8 6 5 3

This hand has shape 6-3-2-2. It is unbalanced and has 6 TP. The longest suit is a 6 card suit. Bid 1♣︎.

♠︎ A K 8 4
♥︎ K 3
♦︎ A 9 8
♣︎ A K 6 3

This hand has shape 4-4-3-2. It is balanced and has 21 HCP. Bid 2NT.