Third Hand Openings - Part 2
[ click here for part 1 of this series ]

by Spencer Hurd

You passed in first seat, and after another pass, partner opened with one of a suit. Are there any special rules for you? Do you bid as if partner opened in 1st or 2nd seat? There are some “rules” but they will show up in the hands examined below. In general, (1) we will assume that you and your partner bid somewhat as in the previous article, that is, you willingly open certain types of light or eccentric hands in 3rd seat that you would not open in 1st seat, and (2) you should consider how the later auction will go (whether or not Pard has one of these hands or a normal 1st seat opener).


            In each situation, there are several hands to bid. Do your best.

1. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1§ P

You hold the following series of hands:

a) ª-KQJ4  ©-T987  ¨-AT54  §-8

b) ª-764  ©-543  ¨-Q43  §- KJ94

c) ª-K98  ©-QT43  ¨-AT9  §-J63

d) ª-T8743 ©-QT43 ¨-AJT §-J

e) ª- T8 ©-QJT764 ¨-AQ §-J98

f) ª-AJ7543 ©-9 ¨-AT96 §-54

2. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1§ DBL
1© 1ª P 1NT

 a) ª-Kx ©-QJT4 ¨-T43 §-K976

b) ª-Kx ©-JT65 ¨-72 §-KJ976

c) ª-6 ©- KJ985 ¨-953 §-Q876

d) ª-6 ©-KJ9852 ¨-953 §-QJ5

3. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1¨ 1NT

a) ª-KJ6 ©-87 ¨-AJ932 §-T87

b) ª-K8 ©-KJ64 ¨-6 §-J98642

c) ª-Q4 ©-Q87 ¨-AQ64 §-J832

d) ª-6 ©-Q9652 ¨-QJ432 §-T4

e) ª-T86 ©-642 ¨-KJ9532 §-8

4. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 2© Dbl

a) ª-43 ©-A32 ¨-KJ4 §-QT76

b) ª-5 ©-A432 ¨-KQJ5 §-T872

c) ª-QJT4 ©-T963¨- J §-T983

d) ª-KJ5 ©-54 ¨-QJ93 §-A876

e) ª-8753 ©-KJ842¨-(void) §-QJ87

f) ª-97 ©-J4 ¨-QJ6 §-KQJ853

g) ª-A875 ©-Q5 ¨-J64 §-AJ52

h) ª-76 ©-T754 ¨-43 §-KJT53



First, some questions. Do you and you partner have an agreement about New Minor Forcing by a passed hand? What about redoubles by a passed hand? (These could occur a lot.) What are new suit bids by you if partner’s bid is overcalled by 1NT?

1. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1§ P

You hold the following series of hands:

a)  ª-KQJ4 ©-T987 ¨-AT54§- 8:  Usually most of us bid up the line and would bid 1¨. But if you bid 1¨ here and partner has a minimum hand with 4-3 or better in the majors, you will have to jump to 3 of that major to show your values. If Pard is weakish, the 3-level can be too high. Bid 1©. Now, if Pard passes his 11 point hand, you will not compete too high. If he bids again, say 1ª, over your 1©, then he doesn’t have the dreaded balanced minimum and you have enough to raise to 3ª.  

b) ª-764 ©-543 ¨-Q43 §-KJ94:  Do not bid 1NT! Just bid 2§. (It is inferior to play inverted minors after a 3rd seat opener.) The problem with 1¨ is that you must then pass 1© or 1ª, neither of which is a pleasant thought.  

c) ª-K98 ©-QT43 ¨-AT9 §-J63:  Bid 1NT or 1©. The responder to a 3rd seat 1§ bid should be conservative. With only 10 spread out points, many in this world routinely bypass 1© and bid 1NT because of the flat distribution. Here I think 1© is a better bid, whichever your partnership style, because Pard may be minimum with both majors.  

d) ª-T8743 ©-QT43 ¨-AJT §-J:  Bid 1ª. What to bid is not a problem. The real problem is what to do when Pard passes 1ª and they bid. Say after 2 passes, RHO doubles. At the table I am sure I would bid 2©, not knowing whose hand it really is. I would leave the rest up to Pard. Change the ten of spades to the king – now I would redouble and stir up the pot. (If the opponents are silent throughout and Pard next bids 1NT or 2 of either minor, you bid 2©, non-forcing. You would do this despite the 3rd seat business. If 2© would be forcing one round as you play, then you have to pass Pard’s 2nd bid.)  

e) ª-T8 ©-QJT764 ¨-AQ §-J98:  This looks like a 2© bid to me. I mean both bid 2© now and open 2© initially.  

f) ª-AJ7543 ©-9 ¨-AT96 §-54:  Bid 2ª. This is an important hand. You don't want partner to pass automatically with 4 spades and a weak opener. Give opener anything like these:
ª-K982 ©-KJ64 ¨-83 §-A97 or,
ª-KQ8 ©-QT64 ¨-73§- KJT9 or,
ª-KQ8 ©-JT75 ¨-K5 §-JT97, or even
ª-K862 ©-T743 ¨-2 §-AT98 and 4ª is 50% to 100%. But, in each case, he should (and probably will) pass 1ª if that was your bid. If he has a normal opener, you lose nothing by 2ª, but you must consider his point of view - you are a passed hand and he may only be thinking about a part score. (If you play Weak Jump Shifts, you must not play them if responder is a passed hand - a surprising idea to many people.)

            ASIDE: Big Clubbers, and a few others, say, "Just open the hand in first seat with 1ª." My own experience is bad (for me) when expert opponents have opened hands like this in 1st seat:
ª-KQTxxx©- x ¨-AJxx§- xx  open 1ª,  not 2ª
ª-x©- x ¨-AJTxxx §-AJxxx open 1¨
ª-xx ©-QJTxxx ¨-AQxxxx §-(void)  open 1©.

Their rules are: open 1 of a suit when 6-4 or 6-5 (or wilder) when the suits are fairly good; at least one ace; about 1.5-2 quick tricks; and no hope of showing the hand by passing now and backing in later.

            If you don't open hand f, you must jump shift now to show your power.

2. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1§ DBL
1© 1ª P 1NT

 a) ª-K2 Q©-JT4 ¨-T43 §-K976:   The KEY to the auction is that your Partner passed. You must assume they are quite minimum or maybe even fanciful with the opening. Your RHO has a great hand – is it too good to overcall 1NT? Who knows? Just be quiet and pass in tempo.  

b) ª-K2 ©-JT65 ¨-72§- KJ976:  It is odd to double for take out and not support partner’s response in a major. Your LHO may be about to jump somewhere, but I’m bidding 2§ now anyway. 2§ should be safe – not only if Pard has reasonable values but also if the opponents have a game.  

c) ª-6 ©-KJ985 ¨-953 §-Q876:  Pass. Just not enough.  

d) ª-6,©- KJ9852¨-953§-QJ5:  Bid 2©. This should play okay opposite even a singleton. You club fit is a big plus. The bidding is not over – I expect LHO to bid spades again.

3. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 1¨ 1NT

a) ª-KJ6 ©-87 ¨-AJ932 §-T87:  Bid 2¨, Don’t double or you will force them to find a suit fit.  

b) ª-K8 ©- KJ64 ¨-6 §-J98642:  2§ is risky but I might try it non vulnerable. Not for the timid. You hope to keep them out of a very likely 4ª.

c) ª-Q4 ©-Q87 ¨-AQ64 §-J832:  Double. I would pass but full credit for a double which probably works. On this hand, somebody will run from the double, and, if Pard runs, you can bid diamonds.  

d) ª-6 ©-Q9652 ¨-QJ432 §-T4:  The opponents can likely make 4ª. Bid 3¨ and make it hard for them.  

e) ª-T86 ©-642 ¨-KJ9532 §-8: This is a weaker playing hand than (d) so I bid only 2¨. The diamonds are great – but 6 small cards in the majors is awful. Probably nothing will keep them out of spades, and I’m not going for a number when Pard has a 4-4-3-2 hand with only 3 diamonds.  

g) ª-A875 ©-Q5 ¨-J64 §-AJ52:  You were so proud of yourself for not opening this 12-point pile of trash. But now what? I am 100% sure I would pass at the table. If you are 100% sure you would double, your partner is too honest! The best bridge players are all thieves, and, if your partner is not larcenous at heart, you are not stealing enough hands from the opponents. The price you pay is (very rarely) not maximizing an occasional penalty. Of course, had partner opened in 1st or 2nd seat, you would be proud of a double with this hand. Actually, 1NT will probably go down, but if you want to wean your usually timid partner away from bad habits like passing in 3rd seat on hands we recommend opening, just pass here and don't create heart problems as you defend 1NT doubled in this situation.

4. You LHO Pard RHO
P P 2© Dbl

a) ª-43 ©-A32 ¨-KJ4 §-QT76:   Pass. Very important hand. Let it go. “No distribution, no bid.” Simple rule. You simply can't assume partner has 6 hearts, much less good hearts.  

b) ª-5 ©-A432 ¨-KQJ5 §-T872:  4© is a poor choice. You should expect your LHO to come in with spades. You should encourage Pard to lead diamonds. So bid 4¨ now. This should show diamonds with a heart fit. (“Never play splinters in a new suit in competition” and “jumps in competition show fit unless previously discussed.”) If your partnership plays splinters here, then you must bid 3¨ (or 4© now and 5¨ later).  

c) ª-QJT4 ©-T963 ¨-J §-T983:   4©, at once. You expect they can make 6¨ but hope they bid 4ª.  

d) ª-KJ5 ©-54 ¨-QJ93 §-A876:   Pass. And continue passing.  

e) ª-8753 ©-KJ842 ¨-(void) §-QJ87:  Here you wish you could splinter and ask for the lead of a diamond. It’s liberating to know the opponents can make a game or slam somewhere and that you can bid almost anything. Any strange bid now may fool the opponents a bit, but the straight answer is to call 4© now and try 5¨ later. LHO will double 5¨ or Pard will return to 5©. You hope the lead-directing message has been sent.  

f) ª-97 ©-J4 ¨-QJ6 §-KQJ853;  Not vulnerable, you can try 3§. Again not vulnerable, maybe even try to get away with 3©. If vulnerable, I wouldn’t bid.

h) ª-76©- T754 ¨-43 §-KJT53:  An automatic pass? I think not. With 4 trumps, the 3-level should be safe (a higher level bid may tempt the opponents, who are looking at all the points in the deck, to double and spoil your fun). That means you can safely bid anything you want (remember, they apparently have a slam!). Even experienced players will worry if you call 2ª or 3¨ or 3§ now. Partner will not get excited - he has an automatic pass unless LHO surprisingly passes - but your LHO will show signs of strength which will reveal all to partner. At the table with this hand, I called 2ª, and my LHO was worrying whether to jump to 3NT or bid a ratty 4-card spade suit. My bid solved the slight problem and she jumped to 3NT - she made 3NT,  but 4ª was a superior contract. Usually your bid here is ignored by the opponents, but sometimes you hit gold. Why not try?

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