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The “Rule of Fourteen”

It is crucial that the first response to a one-of-a-suit opener is accurate. Support partner with four or more cards; otherwise plan to bid your longest suit; with two equal length suits, bid the cheaper of four card suits and the higher ranking of fives. But there is a caveat.

Whilst responding in a new suit at the one-level is perfectly acceptable with six points and a four card suit, responding in a new suit at the two-level requires more. Here is the crux: if the suit in which you plan to respond involves raising the level to two, add your total points to the number of cards in the suit. If you get to fourteen or more, bid two of your suit. If not, then assuming you have at least six points (with fewer simply Pass), respond 1 NT.

North Deals
None Vul
A J 6 4 2
A Q J 7
6 4 3
Q 9 5
A Q 10 8
9 6 3
Q J 10
W   E
K 10 8 3
K 9
10 8 4 2
A 8 7
J 7 6 4 3 2
K 5
K 9 5 2
West North East South
  1 ♠ Pass 1 NT
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass Pass Pass


If South had immediately responded 2 , he would have forced his partner to speak again and a minus score would have resulted. But by going via 1 NT to bid 2 , he showed a weak hand with a long suit. North was not tempted to bid on and the question was whether South could scramble eight tricks?

West led ♣ Q and East won ♣ A and returned ♣ 8. Winning ♣ K, declarer cashed  K, led  5 to  J, cashed  A discarding ♣ 5, and led  Q discarding ♣ 9. West trumped with  8 and tried to cash ♣ J. Declarer trumped with  2 and led  3. West won  10 and switched to ♠ 5. Declarer won ♠ A, trumped ♠ 4 with  4, and led  6.  Q and  K crashed together,  A was later lost, but eight tricks were made.

THE RULE OF FOURTEEN: Only respond in a new suit at the two-level when your total points added the number of cards in your suit equals fourteen or more. If not - but with six + points - respond 1 NT.

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