Source: Aussie Youth Bridge Bulletin

Playing a natural system, a common question arises as to which minor-suit openings to play. Which is better? Better Minor or Short Club? Is there a difference? There is a subtle difference, but in reality, not by much.

SHORT CLUB

Let’s take a look at Short Club first. Short Club is where a 1club shows 2+club’s and a 1diamond opening shows 4+diamond’s. Essentially, any hand with four diamonds (unless you have longer clubs or a five-card major) will be opened 1diamond. 4=4=4=1, 3=4=4=2, etc, you name it. This means that whenever you open 1club, you will generally have at least three clubs. (43)33 would be opened 1club, as is 4=4=2=3. The only time that you will have a doubleton club is when you have an exact shape of 4=4=3=2: if you think about it, if you have a doubleton club with any other shape, you must have a fivecard major or 4+diamond’s, so you will be making some other opening bid.

BETTER MINOR

Better Minor essentially means that both 1club and 1diamond openings show a minimum of 3 cards. When you have 3-3 in the minors, some like to have choice between either opening depending on suit quality (i.e. diamondAK2 club984 would be opened 1diamond). However, I believe that to get the maximum usage out of Better Minor, it is more beneficial to open 1club any time you are 3-3 in the minors. This would mean that your 1diamond opening would generally have at least four diamonds, and the only time that you will have only three diamonds is when you have an exact shape of 4=4=3=2. This would help out your competitive auctions: whenever your partner opens 1diamond, you can safely compete in diamonds knowing that partner will most likely have four of them.

So what’s the difference between both styles?

Not much really! Both ways are essentially the same, but the underlying focus is knowing what to do with that dreaded 4=4=3=2 shape. What you want to do is to look at it from a competitive auction’s point of view. If the auction goes 1diamond-(1spade) or 1diamond-(2club), or 1club-(1diamond) or 1club-(2heart), would you rather be absolutely certain that the 1diamond promises at least four cards, or would you prefer that the 1club promises at least three cards? Of course, you should generally always assume that partner has 3+club’s for the 1club opening and 4+diamond’s for the 1diamond opening, since the chance of having an exact 4=4=3=2 shape is about 3%. Furthermore, when you have interference from the opponents (especially when it’s an overcall of a major suit), the chances of partner having a 4=4=3=2 greatly diminishes! The choice, ultimately, is up to you and your partner.