Two of our favorite bridge experts are Jerry Helms and Larry Cohen, who are both expert players, writers and teachers. We usually agree with their advice and from time to time will provide links to their answers to some frequently asked bridge questions.

Click HERE to find all articles by Jerry Helms 

Click HERE to find all articles by Larry Cohen

What conventions should you play?

We’re not big on teaching a lot of conventions. We think you can be a winning player if you understand basic bidding and play and defend well. The conventions we find most useful are:

For social players: Stayman; Weak Twos with strong 2C; Blackwood; Gerber; and possibly Negative Doubles.

For duplicate players: all of the above plus Jacoby 2NT with Splinter Bids and Fourth Suit Forcing.  These all help you get to contracts that standard bidding might not be able to handle.

Click HERE for advice on conventions from Jerry Helms

Click HERE for advice on conventions from Larry Cohen

On Opening 1NT or 2NT with a 5-card major

Our advice: When your hand is balanced and in the right point range for a NT opening bid, open in NT despite your 5-card major. Just Do It! If you don’t, you could have trouble finding a good rebid. Hands having a 5-card major and 4 cards in another suit are not balanced so you will open in the major even with the right strength for a NT opening bid. Only ignore the major when you have no good rebid.

Jerry Helms on opening 1NT with a 5-card major – click HERE

Jerry Helms on opening 2NT with a 5-card major – click HERE

Larry Cohen on opening 1NT with a 5-card major - click HERE

Light Opening Bids

The Rule of Twenty Plus Two

Excluding preempts, we consider an opening hand to be one with at least 13 total points (HCP plus 1 length point for every card beyond the fourth card in a decent long suit -- even count length in NT.) But some hands lend themselves to opening with only 11 or 12 total points. A good way to help you decide whether to open light in first or second seat is to apply The Rule of 20 Plus 2. If your hand meets BOTH conditions below, open even though you have less than 13 points:
1) Your total HCP plus he total number of cards in your TWO longest suits must be at least 20.
2) You have at least 2 quick tricks.

Quick tricks (QT’s) are tricks you expect to win when declaring or defending. The most QT’s you should count in any suit is 2. In any one suit:
Ace = 1 QT
KQ = 1 QT
K x = ½ QT (your holding must include at least one more card with the king)
AQ = 1 ½ QT’s
AK = 2 QT’s

NOTE: Your normal point count, not the Rule of 20 number, determines the value of your hand for the rest of the auction (minimum, medium or maximum.) Click HERE for Jerry Helms’ advice on opening light.