Most of the time you’ll open the bidding with hands of 12+ HCP. However there are some mini opening hands that can be opened one of a suit with slightly less and here we can use the “Rule of 20”, e.g:
This hand has 10 HCP. Add the number of HCP to the combined length of the two longest suits and if the answer is 20 or more – open 1 of a suit: in this case 1S, preparing to rebid 2D.
This is a way of getting weakish 2-suiters into the auction early. Aggressive bidding within fairly well-defined limits is always a good idea.
And this is also why we make “pre- empts”:
With this hand you can open 3H! You'll have a 7 card suit and 6 - 9 HCP. The idea is simply to destroy the opponents auction before they’ve even had a chance to start. Partner now knows you have rubbish and can either control the auction with a good hand or, with a fit, bid 4H – sometimes to make and sometimes not expecting to make, just to get even more in the way.
This bidding style is called “Barrage Bidding”. The opponents frequently get into the wrong game and often miss slam because you have eaten up their space.
6 Card Suits
The pre-empt idea got extended as players discovered more about bidding. In the 1950s some bright spark thought “Well, hey, if 7- card pre-empts are that good, why not 6-card pre-empts?" and so the Weak Two was born …
With this hand you open 2H! The principle is exactly the same as above.
Some of you may mourn the loss of the Acol Strong Two bid but to be honest this is an outmoded way of showing strength. Added to which the Weak Two type hand occurs far more frequently. So you will be bidding more and being more of a nuisance than before. This is a VERY Good Thing…
For the more adventurous of you, I can recommend you scour the internet for a variety of bids known as “Lucas Twos”. Then you can open 2S with a 5(!) card suit. Fun fun fun!
Next week : responding to weak openings.