Opening A Bridge Hand

The learning bridge student must be made aware of the fact that it will be inevitable that a bridge instructor in Los Angeles will provide similar guidelines as a bridge instructor in New York. However, the learning bridge student should realize that both instructional methods are based on the same concept, but may be delivered differently. This should not become an obstacle for the learning bridge player. In time the learning bridge player will ascertain that not all teaching methods are identical, but that the concept of the teaching material is. Our presentation for all four series are based on one concept, which can serve as a foundation, from which to stray later when understanding the bidding and play of 52 cards.


Beginning the auction in the game of bridge is based on several factors, which are detailed below. The bridge player should abide by certain guidelines when opening a holding of 13 cards. This is important to build the element of trust within the partnership, since there are two players involved in the bidding process. Without this trust, the partnership is on loose ground, and can not possibly build a solid foundation. As difficult as it may seem, the following guidelines should be memorized, studied, and incorporated in your Partnership Agreement. Remember, however, that nothing is etched in stone, and minor deviations from these guidelines are permitted.

The rank of the suit denominations is:


This means that the Diamonds rank higher than the Clubs, the Hearts rank higher than the Diamonds and Clubs, and Spades is the highest ranking suit. Only one denomination is higher ranking than the Spade suit, and that denomination is called No Trump.


What are the Guidelines for opening one of a suit?

1. The player should have two potential Quick Tricks.
2. The player should have defensive strength.
3. The player should have a comfortable rebid.
4. The player should always consider the locations of Mr. Ten, which is considered an honor.
5. The player will almost always open a hand containing 12 high card points.
6. The player must open a hand with 13 high card points.
7. Seldom does a player open a hand that contains less than 2 Quick Tricks.

The concept behind the above mentioned guidelines is that no guideline is a rule etched in stone. Remember, there are no rules in the game of bridge, except to be nice to your partner and all opponents.

Open with less than 2 Quick Tricks if you can disrupt the bidding of the opponents, and take advantage of their vulnerability.

Open with less than 2 Quick Tricks, moderate values, and a good rebid, if you are in Third Seat and there have been two passes.


Which suit to open is often based on distribution:

1. The play will almost always open a 5-card Major suit before any other suit: 5-3-2-3 or 3-5-3-2.
2. If the distribution is 4-3-3-3, open 1 Club or your better Minor suit, which could be the Diamond suit.
3. If the distribution is 4-1-4-4, open 1 Club.
4. If the distribution is 4-3-4-2, open 1 Diamond.
5. If the distribution is: 2-3-4-4, open 1 Diamond.
6. If the distribution is: 4-4-4-1, open 1 Diamond.


Guidelines for determining Point Count for Card Honors and Distribution Points as well as Quick Tricks follow. The learning bridge student will soon discover that a holding of 13 cards can be evaluated. This evaluation depends on values placed on certain honor cards and the shape or distribution of these 13 cards. Learning this evaluation is definitely essential.


counts as 4 High Card Points


counts as 3 High Card Points


counts as 2 High Card Points


counts as 1 High Card Point


counts as 1 Distributional Point


counts as 2 Distributional Points


counts as 3 Distributional Points

1 Quick Trick:


2 Quick Tricks:

Ace/King in the same suit

1.5 Quick Tricks:

Ace/Queen in the same suit

1 Quick Trick:

King/Queen in the same suit

0.5 Quick Trick:



Distribution Points:

Distribution Points are those points added to the actual high card point count after a suit fit has been established:

Doubleton counts as:

1 point

Singleton counts as:

2 points

Void counts as:

3 points


Another style to assess distributional points are a little different and this point count has proven effective.

Doubleton counts as:

1 point

Singleton counts as:

3 points

Void counts as:

5 points

An opening bid generally indicates strength between 12-19 high card points.

Actually, this is all you need to know in order to open the auction.


Additional information, which serves as a foundation for the learning bridge student:

In time the learning bridge student will learn the significance of Vulnerability and the importance of the Seat. During the auction, please remember the Vulnerability and the Seat Position. Are you in First, Second, Third or Fourth Seat.

Believe it or not, your position at the table, once the dealer has begun the auction with a call or a bid, is important.

Logic and the Guidelines of Bridge compensate for Third and Fourth Seat.

Remember, however, that your partner is putting his trust in you, and you should never open a sub-minimal hand. Otherwise, the trust in one's partner disappears after a very short time, and your partner will never know what you do have. Therefore, always consider your Position and Vulnerability at the table before making an opening bid or an overcall.


The following links can provide additional information for the learning bridge student.

Definitions of Terminology - a short description of bridge terms
Bridge Index - a more exhaustive description of bridge terms



Claus and Raymond Conventions Bridge Sites
Home Page I Glossary Home Page II