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The “Rule of Fifteen”

When you realise that you are going to be opening the bidding, you must note whether your hand is balanced (4432, 4333 or 5332) or not. If it is then you must plan to bid Notrumps at your first or second turn. With 12,13 or 14 points, open 1 NT. With 15 or 16 points, open one of a suit and rebid Notrumps at the lowest level over partner's response in a new suit.

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

 

West was absolutely correct to Pass over 2 ♣. He was planning to rebid 1 NT over his partner's 1 ♠ response to show 15-16 balanced, and he must not allow himself to be pushed to 2 NT by South's pesky overcall. Incidentally a 2 NT contract by West would have fared disastrously, probably making just ♠ AK,  A,  A and ♣ Q. Down three.

Defending 2 ♣ was more enjoyable. West cashed ♠ AK and switched to  9 (the lead of a high spot card denying an interest in the suit led). East won  A and led a third ♠. West trumped, cashed  A and led a second . Declarer rose with dummy's  K and led to ♣ AK. He conceded the third round of trumps to East's ♣ J and had gone one down (unavoidably).

THE RULE OF FIFTEEN: With a balanced hand (ie 4333,4432,5332) of fifteen-sixteen points, open one of a suit and rebid Notrumps at the lowest level over partner's new suit response.

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