SHOULD OPENER REBID 1NT WITH A SINGLETON IN RESPONDER'S MAJOR?
The players sitting East on Board 25 of the 12/31/13 afternoon game
at South Bend Bridge Club held ♠2
♣AQ1094. What will your rebid be if
responder bids a likely 1♠? We will
revisit this question at the end of this article.
Let's look at the six hands below which also have minimum opening
bid values and a singleton in a major:
Your bidding plan is heavily dependent on what is shown by opener's
1NT rebid. A partnership needs to decide which of the two methods
below will be used.
1. Traditional method - opener's rebid of 1NT shows a balanced hand
and, therefore, contains two or three cards in responder's major.
2. Alternate method - opener's rebid of 1NT may include a small
singleton in partner's major.
The traditional method has the advantage of requiring two or three
cards in responder's major, therefore the playing strength with
responder's suit as trumps is narrowly defined. Responder can rebid
two of his major to play with a five-card suit knowing there will be
at least a seven card fit. Responder can also bid 3 or 4 of his
major with a six-card suit knowing there will be an eight-card or
better fit. The disadvantage is needing with the hands above to
either (1) open 1♦
and rebid 2♣ (implying 5-4 in the
minors and doing little to limit your hand), or (2) if holding a
five-card club suit, open 1♣ and rebid
2♣ (although the auction implies at
least a six-card club suit).
The alternate method allowing opener to rebid 1NT if holding a small
singleton in responder's major has the advantage of eliminating the
possible rebid problems of the traditional method. The disadvantage
is the wider range of opener's playing strength, especially if
responder's major becomes trump. Opener could hold a small singleton
trump with 12 HCP or three excellent trumps with 14 HCP, thus
auctions involving responder's major as trump are less precise using
the alternate method. Responder has more difficulty in deciding to
either pass 1NT, sign off in two of his major with a five-card suit,
or jump to three or four of his major with a six-card suit when
opener may hold a small singleton in responder's major.
Whichever method you choose to use in your established partnerships,
it is important (1) your frequent bridge partners know which method
you are using, and (2) you are able, when asked, to inform the
opponents which method your partnership is using.
Sometimes any bid you make will not quite describe your hand or will
break some bidding "rule" and you must decide which bid is the
"least lie". We will see some examples of "least lies" below.
What if you are using the traditional method and your singleton in
responder's major suit happens to be a high singleton honor such as
hands number 2, 4, and 6 (♠A
♣A9432, and ♠KJ2
♣A9432) at the beginning of this
article? You will often find that treating a high singleton honor as
equivalent to two small cards and rebidding 1NT is a better
alternative than rebidding a minor, especially if your minor suit(s)
are weak. Rebidding 1NT is a better choice (the "least lie") than
opening 1♣ and rebidding 2♣
with an average quality five-card suit. Potentially worse is opening
1♦ and rebidding 2♣
implying at least 5-4 in the minors, and not limiting opener's
strength, which could be anything from a bare minimum opening bid to
just short of a game forcing jump shift.
So your "least lie" could be (1) rebidding 1NT with a singleton even
if you usually would have a balanced hand, (2) when holding 4-5 in
the minors, opening 1♣ and rebidding 2♣
with only five clubs when it would usually show a six-card suit, or
(3) opening 1♦ and
rebidding 2♣ with 4-4 or possibly 4-5
in the minors when it tends to show 5-4 in the minors. Dependent on
the quality of your minor suits and the singleton in responder's bid
major, you must use your judgment on how to bid and describe your
hand. Often, the decision will be close and there will be no correct
Here is one other "lie" to consider when you hold a hand that looks
♣QJ832 where you hold a small singleton
heart, weak minors, and a very good three-card spade suit. You might
decide your "least lie" is to rebid 1♠
with only three spades. If responder raises, he should have four
spades and if you declare a spade contract in a 4-3 fit, it will
often play very well.
Revisiting the rebid choices with ♠2
♣AQ1094 mentioned at the beginning of
this article, your choices are (1) 1♣-1♠-2♣,
and (3) 1♣-1♠-1NT.
If you play the alternate method, you can easily choose (3). The
traditionalists must choose between (1) and (2). Choice (1) limits
your hand but overstates the club length and makes it harder to find
a diamond fit if it exists. Choice (2) appears you have 5-4 in the
minors instead of 4-5 in the minors and does little to limit the
hand. Since the club suit is very good quality, choice (1) is likely
the best choice if playing the traditional method.
Three quick final comments:
(a) Don't rebid 1NT with a void in responder's major.
(b) If responder surprises you by bidding your three-card major
instead of your singleton major, your best choice will often be to
raise responder's suit holding only three trumps.
(c) Rebidding 1NT with a singleton only applies if responder bids
your singleton suit.
Points To Remember
1. Ensure in your established partnerships whether (1) opener is
required to hold a balanced hand (two or three cards in responder's
major) to rebid 1NT, or (2) opener is allowed to rebid 1NT with a
small singleton in responder's major.
2. If using the traditional requirement for opener to need a
balanced hand to rebid 1NT, the "least lie" when holding a singleton
in responder's major when the singleton is a high honor is often to
rebid 1NT, pretending the high singleton honor is as good as two