Rule of Twenty - Rule of 20

This guideline or method, named the Rule of Twenty, is a method in determining whether a holding containing fewer than the standard 12 plus high card points is, despite this fact, worthy of an opening bid. The development of this concept is attributed to Mr. Marty Bergen.

This determination is decided when the number of high card points are added to the number of cards in the two longest suits. If the total equals twenty or more, then the player should decide to open.

Conversely, if the total sum does not equal twenty, then the recommendation according to the Rule of 20 is that the holding should not be opened.

Note: Some definitions of this Rule of 20 include the provision that the holding, which meet the above criteria, must also include two Quick Tricks, or two Playing Tricks. Mr. Ron Klinger of Australia has augmented the Rule of 20 by also counting Quick Tricks, or Playing Tricks. The opening requirements are determined when the sum of the number of high card points and the number of cards in the two longest suits and the number of Quick Tricks was more than 21.

If the total equals less than twenty, then the player should not open. The other requirement is that the working cards or values should be located in the two longest suits.

Note: According to Mr. Marty Bergen, the application of the Rule of 20 should be employed in either First or Second Seat in deciding whether or not to open even a borderline hand. The Rule of 20 is not relevant in Third or Fourth Seat.

Also, Mr. Marty Bergen strongly suggests that most hands worth opening in first or second seat have at least 2 Quick Tricks. However, in the words of Mr. Marty Bergen, no hard and fast rule is possible. Some hands with 1 to 1.5 Quick Tricks should be opened. He also admonishes the bridge player to consider the fact that no suit can have more than a total of 2 Quick Tricks according to his evaluation method. Please review the following for his evaluation method:

Combination   Quick Tricks
Ace-King:   2 quick tricks
Ace-Queen:   1.5 quick tricks
Ace:   1 quick trick
King-Queen:   1 quick trick
King-x:   .5 quick trick

 

The following two examples should clarify this concept.

An example of a holding, which should be opened:

6
AQ965
A10965
42

This hand contains 10 high card points. The total number of the cards in both of the longest suits equal ten. Adding the two numbers together, the sum of 10 for the two longest suits and 10 for the number of points, the sum equals 20. The second, very important requirement that the working cards or values should be located in the two longest suits is also fulfilled. Therefore, the player can / may / could / should open this hand in any seat since the holding qualifies under the Rule of Twenty.

 

An example of a holding, which should not be opened:

Q
QJ
Q6543
QJ643

This hand also contains 10 high card points. The total number of the cards in both of the longest suits equal ten. Adding the 2 numbers together, 10 for the total of the sum of the two longest suits and 10 for the number of points, the sum equals 20. However, considering that the holding contains no Aces and no Kings, and since the working cards or working values are not located mainly in the two longest suits, the second requirement is not fulfilled, and this hand does not qualify as an opening.

 

The Difference

Mr. Marty Bergen, in his publication To Open, or Not to Open, provides suggestions and guidelines for the application of the Rule of 20 and also advice for the bridge player, such as:

1. The state of vulnerability should not become an issue.
2. Always remember that there are logical exceptions to even the best of bridge rules.
3. Every bridge player must learn to upgrade attractive hands and downgrade ugly one.
4. Not all 20's are created equal.
5. When considering whether to or not to open the bidding, be aware of the presence or absence of intermediate cards.
6. The high card points are not limited to only the two longest suits

 

In his publication To Open, or Not to Open, Mr. Marty Bergen provides a summarized layout of Upgrades and Downgrades, which the bridge student should review and study in order to understand the logic of the concept behind The Rule of 20. This summary is copyrighted by the author.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 

 

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