Ak Jerry: Always choose a second bid before you choose a first

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Many years ago, Alvin Roth gave the best advice I have ever heard about bidding.

Jerry Helms Phoenix 2013
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Source: www.jerryhelms.com

Dear Jerry:

The other day, holding: 8 AQ104 J9653 AJ7,

I opened 1. When partner responded 1, I rebid 1NT. After a rather poor result when partner rebid his spades, I was chastised for rebidding notrump with a singleton. I see nothing wrong with my bidding. Do you?

Jerry’s Answer: Yes! (I commend you, however for not rebidding 2 on such a lousy suit. Oh … I suppose you would like for me to elaborate!

Many years ago, Alvin Roth gave the best advice I have ever heard about bidding. Although I acknowledge this as a Roth-Stone, I confess to cannibalizing it many times as a Jerry-ism:

“Always choose a second bid before you choose a first”

It does not require a stretch of imagination to think that your partner’s most likely reply to any opening bid might be 1. Before opening this hand, therefore, I would prepare for this likelihood. With the actual hand, there are two
main choices:

1. Playing five-card majors, open 1, planning to bid 2. This perfectly describes the hand with at least nine red cards with anywhere between 12 to 18 points! Well almost perfectly since partner will expect my shorter suit to be my longer one. At least he will not expect a balanced hand.

2. If I did open 1, I’d prefer a 2 rebid to 1NT. As above, at least partner would not expect a balanced shape.

When you open and rebid 1NT, it should encourage responder to rebid a five-card major when holding a weak hand, low singleton. If however, you held something like: K J872 K9653 KQJ, a 1NT rebid would have more merit since the singleton king could be nearly as valuable as a low doubleton.

An appropriate Jerry-ism:

“The best bid available is often the least bad alternative:’

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