Al Peponis
music in the park san jose

Last time we talked about opening the bidding when partner does not have a five-card suit. The bridge gurus came up with an interesting convention to handle just this situation. Called the “convenient minor” convention, partner would open one club or diamond, bidding the longer and stronger suit. If partner is 4-4 in the minors, then partner opens one diamond – this allows partner to respond two clubs at the next opportunity. And, if partner is 3-3 in the minors, then partner opens one club. This allows YOU to bid one diamond if that is your best suit.

So, how do you respond? The answer to this interesting question depends on what cards you hold, and what cards partner might hold.

Let’s say that partner opens one club. That means all you know is that partner holds at least 13 high card points plus distribution points, and at least three clubs. How do you respond? We should assume that partner is trying to find an eight card fit in hearts or spades. Next, we want to allow the possibility of playing in notrump. Finally, we want to know if clubs was a real bid. All of this can be accomplished with ease … er … more or less.

Case 1: Assume you hold at least four diamonds and six-plus points, but no four-card major – so bid one diamond. If partner was looking for hearts or spades, now partner knows there is no fit and will re-bid his best suit or notrump. Or if partner really had clubs, partner will re-bid the clubs. Problem solved.

Case 2: Assume you hold at least four hearts and six-plus points – bid one heart. If partner was looking for hearts – you’ve found them! On the other hand, if partner was hoping for spades, then partner will bid them next. If partner holds a balanced hand, partner will respond one notrump. Or if partner really had clubs, partner will re-bid the clubs. Problem solved.

Case 3: Assume you hold at least four spades and six-plus points – bid one spade. If partner was looking for hearts, partner now knows hearts are not a good fit. If partner was hoping for spades, you’ve found them! Again, if partner holds a balanced hand, partner will respond one notrump. And, if partner really had clubs, partner will re-bid the clubs. Problem solved.

Case 4: Assume you hold neither four hearts nor spades but have six-plus points. Respond with one notrump. If partner was looking for hearts or spades, partner now knows they are not a good fit. And, if partner holds a balanced hand, you have found your one Notrump. And, if partner really had clubs, partner can now re-bid the clubs. Again, problem solved.

The real point of using the convenient minor convention is to provide a way for you and partner to get into the auction, try to find a good fit, hopefully win the auction and play the hand.

Good luck and good bridge. See you all next time.

For entry level instruction or formal play (in a relaxed atmosphere), feel free to contact Yours Truly ([email protected] or (408) 779-7122). Linda King ([email protected] or (831) 801-9257) teaches beginning and intermediate level, and Don Nemiro ([email protected] or (831) 207-7450) teaches intermediate through expert level. If you have any questions, comments or requests, please contact me at [email protected].

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