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What to open?

Right hand opponent passed. I had 21 points, 5 hearts, 4 clubs, 2 doubletons both containing an Ace.
With only 5 losers I thought I might be too strong for 2NT and instead opened 1H, partner responded 1S, I jumped to 3C to show shape and strength and got left there! I thought a jump shift was forcing?
Was it better to open 2NT? Others made 5NT and we scored 0%. Advice welcomed.


  • The sequence 1H, 1S; 3C is 100% forcing, so your partner is wrong to pass. It is actually best played as "Forcing to Game", so neither partner can pass until game has been reached (e.g 1H, 1S; 3C, 3H should also be forcing).

    It is difficult to say whether your one heart opening was best without knowing the full hand. It can often be best to open 2NT with a 5422 (semi-balanced) shape. The danger with opening 1H with 21 points is that partner might pass with (say) a 5-count hand and your side misses game.

    However, most of the time when you open 1H someone speaks - if not partner then one of the opponents - so the risk is small and it certainly preserves bidding space. Your bid has worked well once partner responds 1S as your 3C bid accurately describes your hand. Unfortunately your partner let you down on this occassion.

  • Although you have only 21 points could one consider a 2Club opening which should force partner to bid to game?
  • You can open 2C on any hand that you want to force to game with. Strong artificial openings are subject to regulation, but a hand with 21 highs will not fall foul of regulations in any jurisdiction.

    The question is, is it wise?
  • Most experts treat a 2C opener as having both offensive AND defensive strength, In fact, Julian Pottage wrote an article for this magazine whose heading was

    2C Opener Shows 5 Quick Tricks

    This is the style I teach my students, although I do say that many hands with 4.5 quick tricks qualify -- but think 5 as the usual standard. That your partner passed a jump shift is the real concern here. That action should not have you reduce your requirements for opening 2C. Instead, teach responder not to pass a jump shift rebid by opener (which is game forcing).

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