4-4-4-1 hands - how do we open these?

The Bridge Bug way:

Open the suit BELOW the singleton AND if you have a singleton Club open the middle of the other three suits i.e. 

Singleton                  Opening Bid

Club                             1                             

Diamond                       1♣                           

Heart                            1

Spade                           1

Whilst this method isn’t foolproof it is one of the more efficient ways to open these hands. If partner doesn’t raise your suit, or does not bid one of your other suits, which you would raise;  then  REMEMBER, unless partner has bid 1NT, that you have promised to bid again.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

In all the sequences below the opener has a 4-4-4-1 shape. These sequences are not for other hand shapes.

1♣  shows a singleton DIAMOND

If partner responds 1♦ you should bid 1 and see what happens next.

If partner bids either hearts or spades you raise to the appropriate level. If he repeats his diamonds, unless you are looking for game, you will simply PASS

With extra values you can bid No Trumps to the appropriate level.

1 shows a singleton HEART

If partner bids 1 you then bid 1♠if partner raises you will either PASS or raise as appropriate.

If partner bids clubs or spades you raise to the appropriate level, with CLUBS and game values 3NT maybe the contract.

If partner repeats his heart suit, unless you are looking for game, you will simply PASS.

With extra values you can bid NT at the appropriate level.

1 showing a singleton CLUB 

If partner bids SPADES you should raise to the appropriate level. If partner bids 2♣ you bid 2. 

OR

1 showing a singleton SPADE

 If partner bids SPADES you bid 2♣

With the last two sequences  partner will put you back to your first suit with 2-cards if he has nothing better to do but if you use this as your bidding guide for these distributional hands partner CAN often work out hand shape. In both cases with extra values you can bid No Trumps at the appropriate level.

ALERT:

When you open the bidding and rebid a new suit, responder should always think "Can partner be 4-4-4-1?" before assuming 5-4.

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