ACBL
District 6
Shawn Stringer, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Dec/JanArticle by Steve RobinsonApr/May
ArticlesBypass 1 Spade (Feb/Mar 2008)
Partner opens 1 and you're not playing Flannery or Kaplan inversion (1 is a forcing notrump and 1NT shows spades). You have exactly four spades. I'd like your thoughts in what situations you would not bid 1. Which of the following hands would you bypass the spade suit and what are your rules? If the spade suit were stronger or weaker would that make a difference?

1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx

It’s easy to bid 1 on all eight hands but before you make your first call you should know how you plan to continue. If the follow-ups give you a problem, maybe you shouldn’t respond 1. 1 - 1 can lead to very bad auctions in standard or two-over-one systems. I think that bidding 1 is clear on hand three. You can be raised on three and will have easy follow-ups to whatever partner does. On hands four and eight, I strongly object to a 1 response. When I have a game-forcing hand and only four spades, I would rather start with 2. When I bid 2, partner knows that I have an opening bid. He does not have to jump to show extra values and I don’t have to bid the fourth suit in order to create a force. The 2 response is similar to the 1 opener. Play 2 can be a balanced hand or clubs and 1-2, 1 - 1 or 1 - two-of-either-red suit shows five. Suppose you respond 1 and opener jumps to 3. Over 3, you would like to bid 3 forcing in order to be able to set hearts as trumps and then start a cuebiding auction but 3 is insufficient. Over 3 there is no way to set hearts as trump below game. Is 4 a cuebid in support of hearts or is it a black 6-5? If opener rebids two-of-either-red suit, you have to bid 3 first in order set up a game force. After 1 - 1 - 2 Red -3 - 3 any, it will be hard to set either red suit as trump. Bidding 1 with an opening bid is unnecessary since opener can bid spades if he has four or you can bid spades at your next turn. 1- 2 - 2 shows four spades but doesn’t promise extra values.

Getting the fewest votes for 1 was hand six. If you bid 1 and opener rebids two-of-either-minor, your subsequent 2-call will sound like a two-card preference. Raising hearts directly loses when partner has four spades and the 4-4 spade fit plays better than the 5-3 heart fit, but that rarely happens. You win when partner knows he has an eight-card heart fit and jumps to game. 1 - 2 - 4 sequences are much harder to lead and defend against then if the auction goes 1 - 1 - 2 -2 -2NT -3 - 4. Here, opener’s hand is an open book. The less information you give the opponents, the harder it is for them to defend correctly.

Hand seven came in seventh out of eight for number of experts bidding 1. You plan on showing a three-card limit raise but partner will expect you to have spade values and go conservative with spade shortness. HoldingxKJxxxKJ10xKJx, 4 is very good opposite hand seven. But change hand seven’s spades to KQxx (KQxxQxxAxxxxx), and game is fair at best.

One of the problems about bidding 1 every time you have four spades is that opener never knows when to raise spades with only three. If opener has xxxAKxxxAxxxx, should he raise spades or should he bid 2. If you can’t raise spades with three, you will play 2 opposite KJxxxxxxxQxxx or 2 opposite KJxxxxxxxQxxx. Another hand type that becomes a problem when you willy-nilly bid 1 every time you have four is if opener is 3-6 in the majors. If opener has xxxAKxxxxAxQx, does he raise spades or rebid his hearts?

Jeff Rubens: Hands one thru four are hand-types where 1 is normal. I would bid 1 with all, but with a hand such as four, I would in some cases bid 2 with strong diamonds and weak spades. With heart support, I normally raise hearts. Playing BWS*, I would bid 2 with hands five or six, one notrump (intending to rebid 3--too strong for 2 with two side aces and decent support) with hand seven. With hand eight, a BWS, 1-response works out if raised (because 3 is then a game-force), but the auction gets complicated if opener bids 1NT or two-of-a-minor (which are collectively more likely). As against that, a 2 response has obvious flaws, and one notrump, which can be used to solve certain problems of this kind if forcing, is not forcing. I have no strong preference among basically unsatisfactory choices; I would probably bid 1, which has advantages should fourth hand be about to overcall. [Ed note. BWS stands for Bridge World Standard, which is a standard system constructed from the preferences of over 100 American experts, used in The Bridge World magazine’s Master Solvers Club and valuable in forming casual partnerships.]

If I had an opening bid with four spades and three hearts and the auction goes 1 - 1 -2 and I bid 3 (intended as forcing but doesn’t sound like such), there would be a problem as to what’s trump. The object of a good constructive auction is to set trumps ASAP. After a two-over-one, trumps will be set no higher than 3 and could be set at 2.

Kit Woolsey: In general I never bypass a four-card spade suit to bid 1NT. A 4-4 fit can be lost, and who is to say that a 4-3 fit might not be better. I am more likely to land in 1NT if I respond 1 than if I respond 1NT, particularly if playing forcing or semi-forcing 1NT response. With three-card heart support and a minimal response, 2 is better than 1 since I know I have an eight-card heart fit and if I bid 1 I may get to a seven-card spade fit. So with hands five and six I would bid 2 With hand seven, I would respond 1NT, planning on bidding 3 next to show a balanced three-card limit raise. This is more accurate than responding 1, and if partner passes 1NT playing semi-forcing notrump I won't mind. The quality of the spade suit makes virtually no difference in this decision.

Ron Gerard: My rules are to bid 1 unless a subsequent heart preference would be misleading, and almost always when I have an easy rebid. Thus hands one and two are 1 responses followed by 2 preferences over 2 (maybe pass of 2 in some situations on hand two). Three and four are easy on the second round, seven and eight are 1 followed by invitational 3 and fourth suit, respectively, if necessary. Hand five is not too strong for 2 over two-of-a-minor but is uncomfortable if partner rebids 1NT, while six is too good for 1 then 2 over two-of-a-minor. The quality of the spade suit does not matter on these types of hands.

I love the auction 1 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 3NT. You can now bid 3 to set hearts as trump and have a cuebidding auction at the four-level. Oops, 3 is insufficient.

Mike Passell: I tend to respond 1 on most hands with four spades since it is most difficult to find the 4-4 fit otherwise. I do not respond 1 in the following situations:
(a) when I have a simple raise to 2 because if I respond 1 and later take a preference to hearts partner will always play me for two hearts and partner may raise spades on three and play a 4-3 instead of a 5-3 .
(b) when I have four bad spades and a six-card minor such as xxxxxKQxxxxQx I would respond 1NT planning on getting to diamonds, an impossibility if I respond 1.
(c) if I have a three-card limit raise with bad spades xxxxKxxAxxxAx.. These are hands that rarely play better in a 4-4 fit and partner may not evaluate his spade shortness as a plus if we start with 1. I would not respond 1 on examples five thru seven.

When you have a weak hand with a long minor such as JxxxxxxKQJxxx and respond 1, you will not be able to get to 3. However, if you bid 1NT, you can bid 3 at your next turn showing a weak hand with clubs.

Joe Kivel: Without heart support, I bid 1 on all four-card spade suits, except when I have a weak hand and a long minor as for example, JxxxxxxKQ108xx. (I would bid 1NT on this hand followed by 3). So, on hands one thru four, I bid 1. With heart support, I would overlook the four-card spade suit if I have a clear-cut simple raise. I would bid 2 with hands five and six. On hand seven I would bid a forcing NT followed by a 3 call, but reversing my spades and diamonds, I would bid 1 followed by a 3 call. On hand eight, I can't decide whether to bid 1, and then have to go thru fourth suit forcing to show heart support, or start off with 2. I have mixed feelings.

Dave Berkowitz: Call me old fashioned, but I would always bid 1. The only example that I would not would be AKxxxxxxxAQxx I would bid 2 to have a smoother two-over-one auction.

Having a smoother two-over-one auction is a good reason to bid 2.

Eric Greco: With hands one thru four I would bid 1. It just doesn’t seem right to bypass 1 when partner can have an unbalanced hand with four spades and then would have rebid problems over 1NT with minimum values. With hand five and six I would bid 2 as you only get once chance with constructive values to show three hearts and it certainly is important to tell partner you have three of them. As much as I would like to bid 1 partner will never know I have three-card heart support unless I jump. I would bid 1 with five spades, three hearts and a very weak hand because I wouldn’t worry about missing game and want to keep the bidding low. Hand seven is a little less clear as 1 followed by 3 may cause partner to misjudge their values. Normally, I would bid 1 but here, I could live with 1NT or 1. Hand eight I would bid a normal 1. With a game force I bid my longest suit! 

Grant Baze: I would always bid 1 if I have three or fewer hearts. With three hearts and a simple raise, I always bid 2; if partner has a good hand with four spades, I expect him to bid 2 over 2. With three hearts and a limit or game forcing raise, I would bid 1 only if I had some high cards in the spade suit (KJxx or better). So, with hands one thru four I would bid 1; with hands five and six I would bid 2; with hand seven I would bid a forcing NT; with hand eight I would bid 1.

Eddie Kantar: If I would be uncomfortable with a three-card raise, I bypass the suit. Hands one, three and four fill the bill. With seven, I can rebid 2NT, natural. I would not respond 1 with hand two plus hands five thru eight, hands that each have three hearts. Incidentally, this is the main reason I play Flannery so I don't have to bid 1 with weak hands and lousy four-card spade suits.

Flannery (2 opener showing four spades and five hearts and 11-15 HCP) was invented because opening 1 with 4-5 in the majors caused rebid problems.

Ralph Katz: Hands five thru seven I would bypass the spade suit. As a general rule with a decent 2 bid I always bypass except the hand that have six really good spades and I want to ignore hearts.

Marty Bergen: I bid 2 on hands five and six, 1NT forcing on hand seven and1 on the rest. I respond 1 in general unless no need to.

Larry Cohen: I'd bid 1 on hands one, two, three, four and eight. No rule. Do what looks right on each hand.  If it looks more like a heart raise, a two-over-one, or 1NT, then eschew the 1 bid.

Jimmy Cayne: I’d bid 1 on all eight hands.

Peter Weichsel: Whenever I have four spades, I bid them.

Roger Bates: I always bid 1 with fewer than three hearts and never with three hearts.

Jill Meyers: I would not bid 1 on five thru eight. I raise hearts with three hearts and only four spades and bid 1 with four spades and fewer than three hearts.

Gary Cohler: Would always bid 1 unless I have three hearts and not good enough to jump in hearts next round.

Barry Rigal:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1NT either forcing or non-forcing.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1NT either forcing or non-forcing.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx
I will rarely bid a four-card spade suit if I have three hearts, I'll raise hearts. I will bypass spades to bid a five-card minor with a good hand unless spades are very good. I'll bid forcing notrump with invitational values and four spades unless 1 followed by 3 looks right.

Henry Bethe:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: 1 is automatic.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2 - not worth two bids.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2 - not worth two bids.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid either 3 or a forcing 1NT followed by 3. With KQxxQxxAxxxxx, I would start with 1.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 1.

Mark Lair:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1 or 1NT with my given mood.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1 but 2 if the spades and diamonds were reversed.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1NT either forcing or non-forcing.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 1.

David Bird:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1. What else do you bid on hands that do not contain three-card heart support?
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2 because if you give preference instead partner will not know that you hold three-card heart support.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1 intending to give a jump preference to 3.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 1 and then 4.

Bobby Wolff:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1NT The strength of the spade suit is important for bidding 1 as opposed to 1NT.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 2. My clubs make a better tell than does 1.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 2. I'll force to game and my diamonds are better than my spades.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 2 same as number four.

Curtis Cheek: Hands one thru four I never bypass spades to bid 1NT unless my plan is to show a long minor, e.g., JxxxxxxKQJxxx, keeping partner from endplaying me in the bidding.

Hands five and six with heart support I never bid 1 when I have a normal raise to 2. Spade quality not relevant. Partner should rely on doubleton after 1-1; 2-2. This does not show a constructive three-card heart raise.
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1, but 2 if the spades and diamonds were reversed.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1 but 1NT seems fine, too. I don't foresee any major problems to either approach.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 2. I want to conveniently show a game forcing three- card heart raise. It will be very inconvenient after 1 -1-2 or 1-1-2.

Kerry Sanborn: Don't rely on rules, but judgment. I do like to secure a 5-3 heart fit with a weakish hand. Suit quality can come into play, but again judgment trumps rules
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1; only way to get to 1NT. Am not afraid of 4-3 spade fit.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1. Can pass 1NT or 2 and raise either minor.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1. Want to hear partner's normal rebid.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2; this is a one bid hand, show support before four-card spade suit.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 1NT planning to jump to 3; can stand to play 1NT facing balanced minimum.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1NT planning to jump to 3; can survive a pass of a semi-forcing notrump.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 1; can always raise to 4 if spades are raised.

Drew Cason:
1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1NT followed by 3.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 2.

Zeke Jabbour: Succinctly:  I tend always to bid the spade suit (see exceptions).
1. How else do you find a 4-4 spade fit?  I always try to anticipate partner's bidding problems. A 1NT response makes it awkward for partner if his pattern is 4-5-2-2 especially if you are playing forcing 1NT.  He would be required to either bid a two-card club suit or rebid his five-card heart suit.
2.  It is sometimes the only way to play 1NT. (This is certainly true when 1NT is forcing.)
3.  When any level of notrump is the final destination, it is usually better to have the strong hand on play.
4.  After a response of 1, opener's rebids can usually give a more reliable description of his hand.
5.  On hands worth only a single bid, with three-card heart support, I would raise hearts immediately.

If I were to choose a hand from among these that is most suitable to a notrump response, I would choose #2. Should notrump be the final strain, this is a good holding to receive the opening lead. But I would normally bid my spades. On hands five and six, I would simply raise hearts. On hand seven, playing forcing notrump, I would by-pass the spade suit in order to prepare for a limit heart raise and I would not want partner to promote honor-one spade because of my spade response.

1 KQxxxxKxxxxxx: I bid 1.
2 JxxxxxKQxxQxx: I bid 1 or 1NT.
3 KQxxxKxxxxxxx: I bid 1.
4 KQxxxxQxxxAKx: I bid 1.
5 KQxxQxxJxxxxx: I bid 2.
6 JxxxQxxAxxQxx: I bid 2.
7 JxxxQxxAxxxAx: I bid 1NT if forcing.
8 KQxxQxxxxxAKx: I bid 1.

Steve Landen: I do not respond 1 when I have three hearts and a constructive hand. In fact, I almost never bid 1 on a four-bagger when I have three-card heart support and less than a game force. On hands one thru four, I would bid 1. On hands five and six, I would raise to 2 as I would want partner to raise my 1 bid with three-card support and a suitable hand. If I have three hearts and limit raise strength I would only bid 1, if after partner raises to 2, 3 would be invitational, but not forcing. That treatment is becoming more popular, but I don't believe it's the mainstream treatment and it's certainly not my style. Therefore, I would make a limit raise with hand seven after a forcing noturmp. On hand eight, I would bid 1 because if partner raises to 2 I can bid either 3 or 4 (I'm forcing to game). Though not part of your question, I would bid 1 with a decent five-card suit with a weak hand containing three hearts.  Something like QxxxxxxxQJxxx.

Marinesa Latizia: The only time I wouldn't show spades is if I had a simple raise in hearts only. With a limit raise or better in hearts I would always show four spades. When I bid 1, I expect to be raised with three.

When I have an opening bid, I never respond 1 with only four spades. The late Paul Soloway used to say that he would bid 1 only if he had three more spades than hearts. If his spade/heart holding were 4-1, 5-2 and 6-3, he would bid 1. If his spade/heart holding were 4-2 or 5-3 he would not bid 1.
Don Berman, Web Master.