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You should have five hearts.
In Acol (and many other systems) it is usual to play that this specific sequence promises a five-card suit. I believe that the reasoning is based on the large amount of bidding space consumed by the 2H response and the need to find 5-3 fits as well as 4-4 fits.
Under this standard method you locate any 5-3 fit directly and opener can support immediately with a three-card suit. If you hold a four-card suit as responder, you should choose to respond first in a minor suit or 1NT and opener will rebid two hearts if holding five spades and four hearts.
Somertimes as responder you might hold a difficult hand such as:
I would recommend that you bid respond two clubs (on a three-card suit!). This looks dangerous but is not in reality. Even if opener raises clubs, you can safely give delayed support for their spades, safe in the knowledge that you have located a 5-card spade suit (with four spades and four clubs, opener should rebid in no trumps rather than raise a minor suit).
. . . . You should have five hearts.
Unless you don't have 5 hearts and you have 4 good hearts and no other bid
. . . . . . safe in the knowledge that you have located a 5-card spade suit (with four spades and four clubs, opener should rebid in no trumps rather than raise a minor suit).
Except that most people play opener's rebid of 1NT shows 15+ hcp
If every hand led to a bid or response exactly as per the book it would be an easy (and boring) game. Half of all hands played will at some point come down to a decision on doing this or that neither of which is right or wrong and it comes down to making the best choice of the two
I disagree with both of your exceptions.
(1) Your "unless you have 4 good hearts and no other bid" misses the point that I was making in my example hand. It is better to respond with a three-card minor than a four-card heart suit (even a "good" heart suit) - you do have another bid.
(2) Opener's rebid of 1NT does show 15+ points in Acol (the modern range is 15-17). But you should never open one spade when holding fourteen or fewer points and four cards in each black suit. With a balanced hand (4432) in the 12-14 range, the opening bid should have been one no trump not one spade. With a 4441 hand the opening bid should have been a minor suit - never one spade. So if your partner opens one spade and then raises two clubs to three clubs you know that this promises a five-card spade suit.
I certainly do not wish to minimise the importance of judgement in bidding decisions. But you will find it much easier to make accurate judgements if you and your partner exchange accurate information in the early auction.
Yes, good point, it would ba a 2NT bid and I agree that 2NT should show 15-19.
But I'm sure you will agree Daisy, that the sequence 1S, 2C; 3C should show a five-card spade suit. Therefore it would be safe, in my example hand, to respond 2C on a three-card suit as you will be able to revert to opener's spades if the club suit is raised.
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