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Rule Of 15

Opening in fourth seat.

This one is short and sweet. After 3 passes, you’re debating about whether to open the bidding or pass out the hand. How do you know which is right? Nothing in bridge is a sure thing, but this tip tends to be right more often than not.

Add your high card points and the number of spades in your hand. If the total comes to 15 or more, make your normal opening bid. If the total comes to less than 15, pass out the hand. Do not preempt in fourth seat.

This tip is most valuable when you know your partner uses the Rule of 20 to open in first or second seat. If your partner doesn’t use the Rule of 20, this rule won’t be as effective (but it’s probably still better than guessing).

Here are some examples:

Example 1

♠ A Q 10
K J 9 8 7
K 4 3
♣ 7 6
This hand has 13 points, plus 3 spades. It’s safe to open 1.

Example 2

♠ 8
K J 9 8 7
K 4 3
♣ A Q 10
This is almost the same hand; it has 13 points, but only one spade. It’s not safe to open 1; the opponents will almost certainly compete in spades, and probably get a good score by either making 2♠ or going down 1. Pass this hand.

Example 3

♠ K J 7 4 3
A 10 6
Q 4 3
♣ 10 7
This hand has 10 points plus 5 spades. It’s worth a 1♠ opening, but pass any response your partner makes (including 2♣). If your partner makes a limit raise of 3♠, pass as well. If the opponents get into the bidding, let them. Don’t bid again.

Example 4

♠ K J 7 4 3
A 10 6 4
Q 4 3
♣ 10
This is almost the same hand; it has 10 points plus 5 spades. Personally, I would open 1♠, and rebid 2 only if my partner responds 1NT or 2♣ (otherwise, pass any response my partner makes). If partner bids again over 2, pass. Even if partner rebids 3♣. Maybe the opponents won’t double. And maybe it makes (partner could have 6 clubs to the A K Q J, after all).

Example 5

♠ 10 8
A K J 7 4
A Q 7
♣ J 4 3
This hand has 15 points, so the number of spades is irrelevant. Open 1 or 1NT.