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The “Rule of Twelve”

The standards for opening the bidding have dropped from thirteen points to twelve. There is no twelve-point hand that should not be opened. Because an opening bid (one-of-a-suit) could contain as many as nineteen points, partner must respond with six or more points. There is no six-point responding hand that should pass (unless right-hand opponent intervenes).

Sometimes you can open with fewer than twelve points (good shape) and sometimes you can respond with fewer than six (good fit) but never should you fail to open with twelve or respond with six. Simple as that.

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


South was a trifle nervous opening just 1 ♠. But knowing that his partner would respond with six points will have alleviated his concerns. North scraped up a 1 NT response and was forced to continue to game after South jumped to 3 .

West led  K and declarer won  A, overtook ♣ K with ♣ A (key play), cashed ♣ Q discarding  2, then played ♠ 6 to ♠ Q. West winning ♠ Q with ♠ K was a blow and West cashed  Q and led  J which declarer trumped. Declarer cashed ♠ A, trumped ♠ 2 (observing the even split), and led  5 to  Q. With that finesse succeeding, he cashed  A and, leaving the master  K outstanding (The Rule of One), led his established ♠ 7. East trumped with  K, but declarer trumped his ♣ J return and tabled ♠ 4. Contract made.

THE RULE OF TWELVE: Always open the bidding with 12+ points. Always respond to a one-of-a-suit opener with six+ points.

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