ACBL
District 6
Shawn Stringer, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Oct/NovArticle by Steve RobinsonJan/Feb
ArticlesSix Spades - Four Hearts (Dec/Jan 2005/6)

I posed the following to my expert panel. You have six spades and four hearts. You open 1 and partner bids 1NT. Holding AKQ543 5432K22 you would probably rebid 2. Holding 987654 AKQ2K22, you would probably rebid 2 . Please give me the minimum heart/maximum spade holding needed to rebid 2 . Does form of scoring influence your decision?

Point No. 1

Some experts believe that you should always bid 2 . The good news is that by bidding 2 , you play in hearts when partner has one spade and at least three hearts. The bad news is that you play in hearts when partner has one spade and exactly three hearts. Another problem with bidding 2 with AQJxxx KxxxJxx is what to do when responder bids 2NT. Pass seems wrong and 3 is forcing. I’ve solved this problem along with the very bad 5-5 spade-heart hand such as KJxxx KJxxxKxx VS. the reasonable spade-heart hand such as AQJxx AJ10xxxxx. Over responder’s 2NT, 3 is now an artificial bid, a form of Wolff signoff, and shows a signoff somewhere either with a hand with 6-4 or 5-5 in spades/hearts. The 2NT bidder assumes 5-5 distribution and does his best. With 2-2 in hearts and spades, responder bids 3. Opener’s direct bid of three-of-either-major over 2NT is forcing and descriptive.

Dave Berkowitz---I’m a firm believer in always bidding 2 , so I would do it on the first hand, holding 5432. (Please destroy my answer if I am the only lunatic.)

Bart Bramley---I'm an extremist on this one. I always bid hearts with 6-4. I would rebid 2 with the first hand. If you don't bid hearts now you will never find them. I am willing to play in the wrong partial occasionally in exchange for reaching more good heart contracts, especially heart games. Couldn't partner have x AxxxxAxxxxxx? I tend to rebid my four-card side suit even if it is a minor, although suit quality does enter into that decision.  Another plus for bidding the second suit with certain hands is that if partner raises the second suit you can sometimes bid game in the first suit. That's how to reach game intelligently with, say, KQJ10xx xAQxxxx opposite x xxxxKJxxAxxx.

Mel Colchamiro---My belief is that one should "always" bid 2 with 6-4. I get much the best of it following this guideline. Of course there are exceptions. Qxxx in hearts is more than enough for me, and AKxxxx J10xxAxx is worth a 2 bid also. Form of scoring is basically not relevant to me, though the upside seems to be greater to bid 2 at IMPs in marginal cases -- bidding 2 may strand me in the wrong partscore, but rebidding spades can lead to a real IMP disaster when we play our 6-0 spade fit in 2 instead of our 4-6 heart fit in 4 .

Brad Moss---I would greatly strain to rebid 2 at all forms of scoring.

Point No. 2

Some of the experts need a decent four-card heart suit to bid 2 . For them, 5432 is not a real suit.

Kerry Sanborn---My general philosophy is to always rebid 2 with 6-4. However, the first hand above would probably convince me that I didn't really have a four-card heart suit. Also, with a good hand where I would want to bid again when partner rebid 2NT or 2 over 2 , I would normally rebid 2 so I could either bid 3 forcing over 2NT or re-raise myself to 3 over 2 from partner. That said, I don't really differentiate between suits with quality when choosing to rebid 2 . At matchpoints, I would be tempted to rebid a chunky spade suit as opposed to an anemic four-card heart suit.

Marinesa Letizia---Basically I never suppress a four-card heart suit unless it’s quite extreme, such as the first example, and I judge that I really don't have a four-card heart suit. With six good spades, if I miss a heart game, it's certainly my fault when I break my own rule of not suppressing a four-card heart suit. Form of scoring does not influence the decision.

Point No. 3

Another factor is the strength of the hand. With a minimum opening bid, your chances of making game is reduced, so getting to the best partscore is the number one priority. In that case you might suppress a weak four-card heart suit, especially at matchpoints. So with a bad opening bid and good spades, some experts will bid 2. The chance of getting to and making game becomes slim. With extras they bid 2 . Responder is more likely to bid again when you bid 2 . Over 2 he can raise hearts or take a preference to spades. Over 2, he can only raise to the three-level with at least ten HCPs. Responder would never think of bidding again over 2 holding x AJxxxKxxxxxx or x KQxxxxKxxxxx, but would raise hearts.

Grant Baze---I would rebid 2 with all 6-4's. Partner could have a stiff spade and AKxxx of hearts; partner would pass 2, but raise 2 to four. A rebid of 2 looks for the safest partscore; a rebid of 2 looks for game with only a modest cost of safety -- so modest that I would rebid 2 even if I were playing matchpoints.

Nick Nickell---At IMPs, I tend to bid 2 on most hands. AKxxxx J10xx or Qxxx is a 2 bid for me. At matchpoints I would bid 2 more often, particularly with any interior solidity. In a way, a hand with QJ109xx AKxx is a better hand for spades, particularly if we are in the part score arena. At IMPs the reason to bid hearts is to avoid missing a heart game, not to get to the better part score. Another factor is how good my hand is. With a maximum, you should strive to bid 2 , and with a dead minimum, lean toward 2. With QJ109xx AKxxAxx I would bid 2 . Change the diamonds to Jx, and I would try to slow things down with a 2 bid.

Henry Bethe---In general I believe one should almost always bid 2 . I would certainly do so with AKJxxx Q9xx and probably even with 109xx. The strength of the hand would make a difference: if I do not intend to accept when partner raises to 3 , I would tend to bid 2. So with AKQxxx J9xxAxx I would bid 2 ; with Qx - Q in the minors I would bid 2. I would also bid 2 more freely at IMPs than matchpoints because of the plus score VS. game bonus considerations.

Fred Hamilton---The minimum heart holding I would need to bid 2 is: AKxxxx JxxxKxx. Hearts may play much better if partner has four. We may reach game when partner can bid on over 2 , but must pass 2 with no known fit.

Bill Pollack---I'm a pretty extreme 2 bidder on almost every 6-4 holding. I just hate to play in my 6-0 spade fit when we have ten hearts. About the only time I wouldn’t bid 2 is when my spades are very solid, e.g. AKQxxx or KQJTxx, -and- hearts are hopeless (Jxxx or worse).

Barry Rigal---With a dead minimum and six moderate spades and four moderate hearts, 2 has more to recommend it than 2 . Holding AJ10xxx AQxxxxx I bid 2, and holding  AJ10xxx AQxxKxx I bid 2 . Chances of making game with the second hand are much better, so we maximize denominations where game might be reached. Chances of game are poor facing hand one, so we look for the safest partscore.

Bobby Lipsitz---Suit strength is not the only issue. With any hand without nearly solid spades worth 16-18 playing points, I would rebid 2 .  (Moderator’s note: Bobby rebids 2 no matter what the heart suit looks like with 16+ playing points, e.g. with AKxxxx JxxxAKx.)

Larry Cohen---My partner, David Berkowitz, is on the extreme end of the Earth -- so much so, that he might consider 2 with the hand shown: AKQ543 5432. He has influenced me to move to the 2 camp, but I'd say my threshold would be roughly AK10xxx J10xx in order for me to consider bidding 2 . At matchpoints I'd be more likely to just rebid a good spade suit (especially with a minimum and no likelihood of game) than Vulnerable at IMPs where I am more interested in increasing my chances of finding a good game.

Eddie Kantar---I would rebid 2 with any hand that would go to 4 if partner raises to 3 , and would rebid 2 with any decent spade suit KQ98xx-plus and a hand that would not go to 4 over 3 . I’m more apt to rebid 2 at IMP scoring on a marginal hand.

Jill Meyers---If I would be happier for partner to pass 2 than 2, I would bid 2 .

Marty Bergen---Vulnerable at IMPs would be relevant. Strength of hand is very relevant. With decent hands, I lean towards 2 on close decisions. Because the strength of the hand is so relevant, it is impossible to define suit quality.

Mike Becker---One of the obvious ingredients in determining whether to bid spades or hearts is whether I have a good opening hand or a weak one. With a good hand, game is still possible and bidding hearts rather than rebidding spades is more likely to encourage partner to bid again. It is understood that spades-spades-hearts (after 2NT) is weaker than spades-hearts-spades. And most VERY weak hands will not bid hearts on the third round and just give up in 2NT. All that said, holding AQxxxx QJxxKxx I would rebid 2 ; holding AQxxxx QxxxKxx I would rebid 2.

Jeff Rubens---With six good spades and four hearts, I would rebid two spades, but if the six-card spade suit looks like a five-bagger (is of poor quality), I would rebid 2 . I also would rebid 2 if I will bid again should partner bid two 2 or 3 .

Kit Woolsey---With AKJxxx AJxxxxx I would rebid 2 . Make the spades stronger or the hearts weaker, and I would rebid 2. Form of scoring has no relevance.

Bobby Wolff---Compare KJ109xx Axxx with Axxxxx Axxx. On #1 I think I would rebid 2, but on #2 I would rebid 2 since the difference in spade suits lends itself to many more spade tricks with #1 but still at least one spade loser for hearts, but #2 may have no spade loser for hearts and more spade losers for spades. Maybe that fact and the more recognized one of rebidding 2 tend to run for daylight to be able to bid game more than rebidding 2 are the two major reasons influencing the decision. To at least attempt to answer the way you want me to, let’s say that with an obvious disparity between the suits, e.g. with AKQxxx Jxxx or KJ109xx Axxx, I would lean toward spades, while with Axxxxx KQxxKQx I would rebid 2 , but Axxxxx KQxxQxx might make a very close vote in favor of 2.

Dan Morse---The maximum spade holding and minimum heart holding I would need to rebid 2 is: KJxxxx KJ9x.

Conclusion:

With 6-4 hands, the experts, with a few exceptions, bid 2 , and I strongly agree. The big gain is when responder has four or more hearts and can bid game. The big loss is when partner has zero or one spade and exactly three hearts. The long heart hand occurs more often than the one-spade-three-heart hand.

Don Berman, Web Master.