Question 3a.

You answered One Club. This is correct. It shows that you appreciated that your hand was above average, and therefore worth bidding, and also that you had one suit that was better than the others, namely Clubs.

You have learned what is required for you to make an opening bid - namely having an above average hand. But to be a bit more specific about this, in the system which I am teaching you, namely ACOL, to make an opening bid you should have at least 12 points if you are bidding in No Trump, and at least 13 points if you are bidding in a suit. Remembering that you get extra points for long suits, it may well be that you will have less than 12 honour points when you are opening the bidding in a suit, because if you have a suit longer than 4 cards, you get extra points for it. However, when you bid in No Trump, you usually will not be counting extra points for long suits, because what you are saying when you are bidding in No Trump, is that you don't have any suit that is particularly better than the others.

When you talk about Distribution - normally you are interested in finding out if your cards are EVENLY or UNEVENLY divided between the suits.  If they are evenly divided, that means you might well prefer to be bidding in No Trump. If they are unevenly divided, and one suit is longer than the others, you most likely are going to end up bidding in that suit rather than in No Trump.

Because we are concentrating on only simple bids at the moment, we are going to assume that you do not have a very strong hand, or a very long suit - both of which would be handled in a different way as far as bidding goes.

When you are bidding in Bridge, each person gets a chance to bid on his hand, and the bidding continues around the table, until 3 people in a row have said No Bid. However, if no one has bid at all - and there have been 4 No Bids in a row at the very beginning, then the hand is thrown in, and the deal passes to the next person.

However, we are assuming that someone at the table is going to have a hand with at least 12 points in it, which will qualify him/her as the opening bidder.  The first person to speak and start the bidding is always the DEALER. And the dealer will either bid in a suit, in No Trump or say No Bid. Let's assume for the moment that the dealer had the hand we were talking about earlier, and bid One Club.  The bidding then passes to the player on his left, and s/he is expected either to make a bid or to say No Bid. Now this next person is an opponent of the Opening bidder. If he were to bid, it would be called an OVERCALL bid, and I do not wish to talk at this stage about Overcall Bids, because they are handled differently. So I am going to say that the second person to bid will say No Bid.

The bidding then passes to the third player, who is the partner of the opening bidder - and in our specific case at the moment, the partner of the person who was the dealer. Because this person knows that his partner has an above average hand, the requirements of his/her hand for bidding go down considerably.

Remember there are 40 Honour points in the whole pack - and an average hand has 10. Your partner, by bidding has signalled an above average hand with at least 13 points. So between the two of you, to do better than the other two partnerships, you should have a combined total of at least 20. If your partner has 13, your new target is not 13, but only 7, and in fact the ACOL system is even more generous than that and allows you to bid on 6 points, if you can do so without raising the bidding above the One level.

Now I have introduced a new concept- BIDDING LEVELS.  When you are bidding in bridge, just as you would do in any sort of auction where you were bidding, in order to do better than the person who previously bid, you have to go higher. So if you were bidding for an antique table - and someone bid £50, you would need to bid at least £51 in order to take control of the bidding away from him.  The same is true in Bridge. Each subsequent bid after the first bid has to go higher (with the exception of DOUBLE, which we will talk about at a later lesson.)

You can increase the value of your bid in two ways in Bridge. By bidding a higher number - and also by bidding a suit of higher RANK.  The rank of the suits in bridge, which is alphabetical - with Clubs being the lowest, followed by Diamonds, then Hearts and then Spades, and all are followed by No Trump. Therefore to bid better than 1 Club, it is not necessary to bid 2 of something. All the other suits rank higher than clubs. However, if the opening bid had been 1 Spade, only 1 No Trump would suffice on the 1 level. To bid in any other suit would require going up to the 2 level. Just like bidding 1 Club suggested that the bidder felt he could take 7 (one more than half) of the tricks - so a bid of 2 of something means that the bidder thinks that he and his partner can take 8 of the tricks. For each extra level you go up, you are promising to win an extra trick.

So the partner of the opening bidder, which is this case has bid 1 Club, can bid any of the other suits on the 1 level, but if he wants to let his partner know that he likes the Club suit, he would have to say 2 Clubs to communicate this.

When the partner of the Opening bidder (who is called the RESPONSE BIDDER) analyses his hand, it is just as before. You count points for honours, and extra points for long suits. And if you wish to show your partner that you like his suit and have support for it, you can also reanalyse your hand and add extra points for shortages in the other suits.

In order to have a supporting bid, it is necessary that you have at least 4 cards in your partner's suit. If not, you should choose another suit to bid. You however, do not have to have particularly high cards in your partner's suit in order to give a supporting bid. Your partner probably has several of the Honour cards in that suit already.

When we talk about adding extra points for shortages, these vary from book to book that you read on the subject. I am using the values from the book, Basic Bridge by Ron Klinger. He suggests that if you have no cards in a suit at all (that is called a VOID) you can add an extra 5 points to your total; if you have only 1 card in a suit (that is called a SINGLETON) you can add 3 extra points to your total; and if you have only 2 cards in a suit (that is called a DOUBLETON) you can add an extra 1 point to your total.

4. Assuming your partner has bid 1 Club, and you hold the following hand, how many points do you have?

Clubs                Q,9,6,4
Diamonds          8,4
Hearts               10,9,8,7
Spades              A,K,3

a.     9 points
b.    10 points
c.     12 points