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The “Rule of Five”

An opening bid shows a minimum of four cards. But if opener next bids another suit, he is guaranteeing that his first suit has a minimum of five cards. He should not introduce a second suit if his first suit contains only four cards - rather preferring to rebid in Notrumps.

The principle - applying to responder and the overcallers as well as opener - is that a player bidding two suits is showing an unbalanced hand with at least nine cards in the two suits.

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

 

Because South's 2  rebid indicated that he had five ♠s, North was able to give delayed ♠ support. He jumped to 3 ♠ to show 10-12 points and South went on to Game.

Declarer won West's  3 lead with dummy's  A and correctly started establishing his s, leading  2 to his  10. West won  Q, led  2 to East's  K and declarer trumped the continuation. At trick five declarer led ♣ K and West won ♣ A and continued with ♣ 3, dummy's ♣ Q winning. He then led dummy's ♠ K and noticed West following with ♠ J. Playing for it to be a singleton, he next led  6 to  J and followed with  A. West discarded a ♣ so declarer trumped  4 with ♠ 2, cashed ♠ Q and led ♣ 8. He held ♠ A9 over East's ♠ 108 and the last two cards were his.

THE RULE OF FIVE: A player bidding two suits guarantees five (+) cards in his first suit. The corollary is: do not bid a second suit unless you have five (+) cards in your first suit.

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