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The “Rule of Four”

When partner opens a suit in which you have four cards, there is a certain fit. Whilst occasionally it is acceptable to withhold support for a minor suit in order to introduce a good major suit, it is a golden rule that you must support a major suit immediately. You can show your strength by the level you support; and by telling partner immediately which suit is trumps, you enable him to concentrate solely on how many tricks to aim for, not to worry about which suit to play in; indeed if you fail to support he will never believe you have such good support.

This week's hand illustrates yet another reason for supporting immediately. North learnt an expensive lesson.

South Deals
Both Vul
8 6
Q 9 6 5
6
A K 10 8 5 2
Q 7 5 2
10
A 9 7 4 2
J 7 3
N
W   E
S
A K J 10 4
8 7 4 2
J 10 8
6
 
9 3
A K J 3
K Q 5 3
Q 9 4
West North East South
      1 
Pass 2 ♣ 2 ♠ 3 ♣
4 ♠ 5  Pass Pass
Pass

 

North cut his losses by bidding on over 4 ♠ - a contract that would probably have succeeded. West led ♠ 2 against 5 , and the contract was quickly scuppered. East won ♠ K, cashed ♠ A, then switched to  J. Declarer covered with  Q and West won  A. Declarer made the remainder by winning West's ♣ return, drawing trumps and running ♣s, but he was one down.

If North had resisted the temptation to introduce ♣s - and what was the point when he knew s were going to be trumps - then the result would have been very different. In support of s North is worth 4 , and East would hardly feel safe to introduce his ♠s at such a high level. In all probability North-South would buy the hand in 4  - an easy make.

THE RULE OF FOUR: Support an opening bid immediately when holding four (or more) cards.

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