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Repeating a suit strongly suggests six cards. Indeed if you (i) do not play reverses as showing extra values and (ii) always open or rebid notrumps with a 5332 shape (yes - even with a five-card major - the modern style and much recommended by your columnist), then repeating a suit GUARANTEES six cards.

When you are repeating your suit (with six+ cards), you should follow the...

Opener's Six Card Repeat Line
12*--------------15 16---------------19 20-------------
Open One. repeat at the lowest level Open One. Repeat with a jump Open Two.
*Or slightly less if passes the rule-of-twenty

In the Top Ten most Common Mistakes of all, I would put failing to jump a level with a six-card suit and 16+ points.

Exercise: You open 1 and partner responds 1 . What now with?

Hand a) Hand b) Hand c)
♠ 3
A J 8 6 4 3
K Q 3
J 4 2
♠ K 2
A Q J 8 6 2
J 2
♣ A 8  3
♠ 6
A Q J 10 6 2
A 10 2
♣ K Q 4

(a) 2. You only just opened - using the Rule of 20.
(b) 2. Chunkier, but just a minimum level rebid (up to 15 points).
(c) 3. 16+ points and six (+) Hearts.

South Deals
E-W Vul
9 6 5 2
Q 7
K 8 6 5
K 5 3
K Q 10 8 3
10 8 6 4
10 3
10 7
W   E
Q J 7 4 2
Q J 9 4 2
7 4
A K J 5 3 2
A 9
A 8 6

What happened
West North East South
Pass 1 1 Pass2 2 3
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Correct showing four+ spades (of any quality) and six+ points
  2. Anyone for a take-out double showing the two unbid suits?
  3. Mistake. Theoretically shows no more than 15 points.

Defending 2 , West led  K. East overtook with  A (good) and returned  J. Overtaking with  Q, West continued with a low spade and East trumped with  9. Overruffing with  J, declarer now had to loseand also lost a club (students of the end game will note that East can be squeezed in the minors). Nine tricks made.

"Lucky we didn't bid game, partner", said South.

North, a good player, said nothing.

What should have happened

West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 3 1
Pass 4 2 Pass Pass
  1. Correct 16+ points and six cards.
  2. A heart fit and at worst one point short of the 25 needed for game, with HQ worth more than two points

In 4, declarer had ten winners, six trumps and two ace-kings. He must not endanger those winners. The key-play is to discard a club at Trick Three, rather than overruffing. He can now win any return and score his ten tricks. Game made a pretty Loser-on-Loser play.

If you remember just one thing...

Opener's Six-Card-Repeat-Line.

This article is deal number 52 from my book What Should Have Happened.


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