Imagine you are the fourth player in the opening round of a game of bridge and your hand contains 11 High Card Points.  The other three players have all passed.

What does this tell us?

A suit of cards contains 40 HCPs.  If the previous three players have passed then we know that none of them holds 12 or more points.  We have 11 points so we know that the other players between hold a total of 29 points.  The points are fairly evenly distributed as we know that no-one has 12+ points.

Should we open the bidding with our 11 card hand?

Imagine that this is our hand

Spades: J 8, Hearts: K J 7 3, Diamonds: A Q 9 4 2,   Clubs: 7 6

If we decide to bid, the chances are that the game would be played in the contract chosen by us and partner.  But there is the possibility that the opposing partnership could overcall us.  If there is the possibility of that, it would be better for us to pass and for a new hand to be dealt.

How can we decide if the opposing partnership might overcall us?  The key to making the decision is working out who holds the spades. This is the specific situation for using the Rule of 15 – use it if you are the fourth player in the opening round of bidding and no-one else has bid.

Using The Rule of 15

Do we have enough spades to open the bidding with a bid of 1 spade?  To find out we add the number of HCPs in our hand to the number of spades in our hand.  If the total comes to 15+ then our hand satisfies the Rule of 15 and we can open the bidding without fear of being overcalled at the one level.

Here are some sample hands to illustrate the rule:

Sample 1

The hand above – could we have used it to open the bidding?

Spades: J 8, Hearts: K J 7 3, Diamonds: A Q 9 4 2,   Clubs: 7 6

This hand contains 11 HCPs , but only has 2 spades.  The total is just 13 points.  If we open with this hand we would open in diamonds and there is the possibility that the opponents could overcall us at the one level in hearts or spades.  We should pass and let a new hand be dealt.

Sample 2

Spades: A Q 9 4 2, Hearts: 7 6, Diamonds: K J 7 3, Clubs: J 8

This hand is similar to the hand in sample 1, except that the cards are held in different suits.  As with sample 1, the hand contains 11 HCPs.  The big difference here is that we hold 5 spades.  Adding this to the number of HCPs gives us a total of 16.  The hands satisfies the rule of 15 and we can open with a bid of 1 spade.  There is no opportunity for the opponents to overcall us at the 1 level.

The rule of 15 is one of the many topics and activities you can enjoy if you sign up for your trial membership at No Fear Bridge.  Join Now.