AT WHAT LEVEL SHOULD YOU OPEN?
Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.”
Yesterday, I mentioned the rule of 20, which some players, whatever their age, use to decide between an initial pass and a one-level opening bid. As I explained, I believe that that is a bad idea. However, if you have a long suit, it is a useful guideline for deciding whether to open one or to pre-empt.
Look at today’s South hand. What would you open, and how would your auction proceed? Assuming South ends in four hearts, how should he plan the play after the defenders take two spade tricks, then shift to diamonds?
For the rule of 20, you add high-card points to the number of cards in your two longest suits. So, today’s South hand is worth 20 (11 plus 9). It should be opened one heart, not three hearts. North should respond two no-trump, the Jacoby Forcing Raise, and South should jump to four hearts to indicate a minimum opening with no sidesuit singleton or void. (If South did open three hearts, probably North would raise to four, more in hope than expectation, but that is beside the point!)
South is faced with four losers: two spades, one heart and one diamond. If he immediately starts on trumps, he should lose those tricks. As I am confident you noticed, declarer must win the third trick with dummy’s diamond ace and play three rounds of clubs to discard his second diamond. Then he can table his trumps and claim.