A player usually requires 12 or more points to open the bidding in a game of bridge. We have also seen that a player holding 12-14 points AND a balanced hand should open the bidding with a bid of 1NT (1 No Trumps).

What should your opening bid be if you hold more than 14 points and/or your hand is not a balanced one?

Here is a simple to follow chart to help you decide on your opening bid.

12-14 points 15-19 points 20-22 points
Balanced hand 1 NT 1 of a suit 2 NT
Unbalanced hand 1 of a suit 1 of a suit

Which suit should you bid?

  1. Open with your longest suit, if you have one suit that is longer than the rest.
  2. Open the higher ranking of two equal length suits. (Remember the ranking order is spades then hearts then diamonds, with clubs being the lowest ranking suit.)
    • UNLESS you have EXACTLY four hearts and four spades, in which case open with a bid of 1 heart.
  3. If you have 4441 shape (four cards in three of the suits and just one card in the fourth suit) :
    • If the singleton is in a red suit, open with the suit below the singleton,
      • open 1 diamond if you have 4441 shape with a heart singleton
      • open 1 club if the singleton is a diamond
    • If the singleton is in a black suit open with the middle of the two touching suits
      • open 1 diamond if you have a spade singleton
      • open 1 heart if you have a club singleton

If your hand has a more distinctive shape, you might want to use the rule of 20 to help you decide on your opening bid.  See lesson 8.