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Magic Bullet 1N
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A Common Problem

In a recent article on Bridge Winners (http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/1c-1h-rebid/), there was a debate about which of three inelegant choices (1 with only three spades, 1N with a singleton in partner's suit or 2 with only a five-card suit) to select as a rebid with 3-1-4-5 shape and less than reverse values after the auction began 1-1.  Those who suggested that such hands usually should be opened 1 were countered by arguments that opening 1 would leave partner an impossible guess with 2-2 in the minors (4-5-2-2) after the auction 1-1, 2.  For those of us who open 1 on balanced hands that are out of our 1N opening range, and whose 1 openers are therefore always distributional hands (or perhaps a 5-4-2-2 hand being treated as distributional), there is a way to avoid that dilemma.  While the reason for the structure described below was to cope with much more severe problems than this one, I realized that a bid I "invented" (probably along with hundreds of others around the globe) to deal with our problems would also solve this one.  

Our Special K-S Problem

Playing old-fashioned K-S, a 2 rebid after opening 1 and getting a 1M response is 100% forcing and usually guarantees a strong hand.  Responder has almost no alternative but to bid 2 over 2 to let Opener clear up his hand type.  We use that 2 rebid to handle a variety of hands:  

  • a game-forcing one-suiter in diamonds, or
  • 14-17 HCP 5-5 or better in the minors (pure hands might be as light as 13), or
  • 5-4 in the minors and 17+ HCP, or 
  • a good 3-card raise of M.

Standard strategies of opening 1 on 4-5 in the minors with less than reverse values or rebidding 1N with a singleton wouldn't solve our rebid problem -- both 1N and 2 rebids show strong hands.  This was one of the biggest flaws in our methods, but being old dogs, we liked the strong sequences that can be commenced with the 2 rebid.  Adding Reverse Flannery responses to our minor suit structure solved some of Opener's rebid problems, but not nearly enough of them!  We were still, on occasion, forced to open 1N with a singleton, pass an opening hand, open a 4-card major, or rebid a ragged 5 card minor.  (Rebidding in a three-card major was never an alternative.)  

The Solution

A couple of years ago, we began opening 1 on all flat 15-19 HCP hands with no 5 card major.  That means that our 1 openers now guarantee a distributional hand.  That in turn means that a 1N rebid by Opener after 1-1M (which formerly had shown 15-17 flat, a holding that now would have opened 1) is an "idle bid." This 1N rebid (1-1M, 1N) is the "Magic Bullet" that solves almost all of a K-S 1 Opener's rebid problems that are created by the strong meanings attached to 1N and 2 rebids.  This 1N rebid is now artificial and shows 4+ - 4+ in the minors (if the response was 1) or either 4+ - 4+ in the minors or 4 - 4+ in the red suits (if the response to 1 was 1) and less than 17 HCP.   

Now, Opener's 2 rebids are "pure" and promise 6 diamonds, not just some ragged five-card suit that couldn't bid clubs or hearts without claiming nonexistent reverse values.  We still won't raise to 2M with only three-card support, but we now have another way to show a three-card raise without compromising the four-card integrity of our 1m-1M, 2M sequences.  

When the response to 1 is 1, then if Opener has four spades he can rebid 1.  In the sequence 1-1, 1N, Opener now guarantees 4+ - 4+ in the minors with less than 17 HCP.  If Responder has something like 4-5-2-2 and no interest in game opposite a hand too weak to reverse, he can just pass 1N -- and as if by magic, a misfit auction that elsewhere has gone 1-1, 2-?? or 1-1, 2-Yikes! can stop in 1N.  Normally, Responder picks a minor, tries to sign off in 2M or bids 2OM (artificial GF).  With about 10-11 and a misfit, he might chance an invitational raise to 2N.  He can jump to 3m to invite game with a 4-card fit for that minor.  

Responder's Rebids After 1-1, 1N-??

This auction is simple, because when Opener bypasses 1, and doesn't rebid 2, he must have 4+ clubs. The bidding continuations other than the 4SF 2 bid are all natural and easy to re-invent at the table.

  • Pass...Misfit hand (usually no 3 card minor), not enough power to invite game opposite an opening bid that has less than reverse values
  • 2m...Prefer m to om, less than game forcing values and either not enough values to invite game or not enough of a fit for m. Opener can now show a three-card heart raise by bidding 2 over 2m or by bidding 2 over 2 (with 1-3-5-4 shape). Opener can also bid 2N with a spade stopper and a max hand or can bid 3m with a max and no spade stop.
  • 2...To play (should have 6+ hearts) Opener can raise to 3 with a fit and a max hand.
  • 2...Artificial game force, many possible shapes
  • 2N...Invite to 3N with no 4-card minor suit fit
  • 3m...Invitational values, 4+ cards in m
  • 3...Invite to 4 with 6+ hearts (should be a good suit)
  • 3N...To play

Responder's Rebids After 1-1, 1N-??

This auction is more complicated because Opener could have length in either clubs or hearts to go with his diamonds. Responder assumes Opener has clubs for the moment and if that's wrong, Opener can correct a bid of clubs by Responder.  All the bidding is natural and intuitive so it can be re-invented at the table:

  • Pass...Rare bid, probably 5-3-2-3 with points in round suits that would be wasted in suit play.
  • 2.... Prefer clubs to diamonds, less than GF values and either not enough values to invite game or not enough of a fit for m. Opener can now pass if he has both minors and a min, bid 2N with 4 clubs and a max or bid 3 with 5 clubs and a max, or he can bid 2 with 4-5 in the red suits and a min, or he can bid 2 with 3-4-5-1 shape and a max (offering spades, hearts, diamonds or NT as strains).
  • 2...Prefer diamonds to clubs, less than GF values and either not enough values to invite game or not enough of a fit for diamonds. Opener can now pass with any min, bid 2 to show 1-4-5-3 and a max (14-16), bid 2 with three-card spade support and a max (14-16 if has 5 diamonds, 15-16 if has 4 diamonds),
  • 2...Artificial game force, many possible shapes
  • 2...To play
  • 2N...Invite to 3N
  • 3...Invite with 4+ clubs (must be able to stand a bid of 3 by Opener if Opener has 4-5 in the red suits)
  • 3...Invite with 4+ diamonds
  • 3...Invite to 4 with 6+ spades (should be a decent suit)
  • 3N...To play

Disclaimer: In the words of John Lennon, there is "nothing you can do that can't be done." I believe I created this "Magic Bullet" 1N rebid. But, because it is logical, there may be scores of others around the world who created something virtually identical -- perhaps long ago and perhaps with many cooler details. Comment here to claim your credit (or blame?).

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