Study 9X00   Main

# Opening Bid Comparisons

by Richard Pavlicek

This study compares opening-bid choices in 72 major events from 1996 to 2014. Source data consists of 40,069 deals (80,138 results) from vugraph archives of the Vanderbilt, Spingold, U.S. Championship and World Team Championship — widely considered to be the four strongest team events each year.

The basic idea is to consider only cases where a hand was opened differently at one table than the other, then determine which of these two actions was the long-term winner. Results are broken down by table position (first, second or third seat) and HCP where appropriate. Results based on minimal data may be unreliable but otherwise should be meaningful, because all participants were experts, including the world’s best.

In this study the meaning of a bid is not considered, however, choices within the same comparison have a like relationship in the great majority of cases. For instance, if a hand is opened 1  at one table and 1 NT at the other, it is almost always a balanced hand with five hearts. Similarly, if a strong hand is opened 1  at one table and 2  at the other, it is invariably a big-club versus standard system.

The winning choice for each comparison is tinted gold to aid recognition. To view the actual deals for any comparison, click on the number in the Cases column.

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## Open vs Pass

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened at Table 1 but passed at Table 2. Essentially this is an assessment of light opening bids, which are broken down by position and strain. (Fourth seat is ignored, as passouts were rare.)

The general picture is that opening light in a minor or notrump fares better than passing. In a major, however, this is true only in first seat, though the numbers for 1  are very close.

Most remarkable is that opening light in hearts scored 61+ percent in first suit, but in second or third seat it’s a complete turnaround favoring the pass. Go figure.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
Firstany3761 80849.60Pass82150.40
Firstany6051 159255.30Pass128744.70
Firstany2421 69361.49Pass43438.51
Firstany2311 61751.94Pass57148.06
Firstany1881 NT46553.82Pass39946.18
Secondany1531 40461.59Pass25238.41
Secondany2801 73157.70Pass53642.30
Secondany1331 26640.00Pass39960.00
Secondany881 19348.13Pass20851.87
Secondany831 NT17455.06Pass14244.94
Thirdany1071 23959.60Pass16240.40
Thirdany1641 34155.63Pass27244.37
Thirdany921 15637.41Pass26162.59
Thirdany761 15450.00Pass15450.00
Thirdany91 NT2866.67Pass1433.33

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One Club vs One Diamond

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened 1 at Table 1 and 1 at Table 2, subdivided by position and HCP range. In many cases this was dictated by system (e.g., nebulous 1  because 1  is strong) so it’s not clear whether this provides any useful evidence — but interesting nonetheless.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First10-111221 25154.331 21145.67
First12-136591 127054.131 107645.87
First14-151261 22643.711 29156.29
First16-171221 33360.001 22240.00
Second10-11731 12447.511 13752.49
Second12-133491 69751.521 65648.48
Second14-151021 22757.041 17142.96
Second16-17771 13441.491 18958.51
Third10-11381 9481.031 2218.97
Third12-131541 29553.151 26046.85
Third14-15571 15366.231 7833.77
Third16-17331 9354.711 7745.29

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One Club vs One Notrump

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened 1 at Table 1 and 1 NT at Table 2, subdivided by position and HCP range. In most cases the differences relate to system, i.e., with balanced hands (and some nearly so) 1 NT would be routine if the range fits your system.

Results suggest that the weaker the hand, the more desirable it is to open 1 NT, with a few anomalies thrown in related to position. Party time for weak notrumpers? Maybe, but being in the opposite camp I’ll pass on hosting the occasion.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First10-133501 62844.041 NT79855.96
First14-154231 88252.221 NT80747.78
First16-173181 66059.351 NT45240.65
Second10-131801 30447.201 NT34052.80
Second14-152481 44647.001 NT50353.00
Second16-172271 49356.211 NT38443.79
Third10-13401 5938.061 NT9661.94
Third14-151381 24448.411 NT26051.59
Third16-171321 22847.401 NT25352.60

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One Diamond vs One Notrump

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened 1 at Table 1 and 1 NT at Table 2, subdivided by position and HCP range. Except for a few narrow losses, 1 NT has the clear edge.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First10-133861 73244.581 NT91055.42
First14-153071 58445.881 NT68954.12
First16-17661 12747.391 NT14152.61
Second10-131561 28448.221 NT30551.78
Second14-151851 26340.341 NT38959.66
Second16-17531 11551.571 NT10848.43
Third10-13601 11250.681 NT10949.32
Third14-15901 15147.631 NT16652.37
Third16-17291 5640.881 NT8159.12

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One Heart vs One Notrump

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened 1 at Table 1 and 1 NT at Table 2, subdivided by position and HCP range. Except for third seat (and the highest range in second suit) it follows the general expert consensus that balanced hands with five hearts are better opened 1 NT if in range. One reason is to avoid rebid problems, and another is to shut out a 1  overcall.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First10-13641 8836.071 NT15663.93
First14-151141 20346.671 NT23253.33
First16-17211 2943.941 NT3756.06
Second10-13281 6943.401 NT9056.60
Second14-15711 10936.311 NT19263.79
Second16-17181 3366.001 NT1734.00
Third10-13161 3262.751 NT1937.25
Third14-15321 5752.291 NT5247.71
Third16-17101 3861.291 NT2438.71

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One Spade vs One Notrump

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened 1 at Table 1 and 1 NT at Table 2, subdivided by position and HCP range. Unlike the previous scenario with hearts, opening 1  is the overall winner, though not without a few curious twists.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First10-13391 9161.071 NT5838.93
First14-15701 15057.031 NT11342.97
First16-17221 1730.361 NT3969.64
Second10-13261 6975.001 NT2325.00
Second14-15401 6138.851 NT9661.15
Second16-17151 5370.671 NT2229.33
Third10-13121 1943.181 NT2556.82
Third14-15171 2555.561 NT2044.44
Third16-17121 1850.001 NT1850.00

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One of Suit vs Two Notrump

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened one of a suit at Table 1, and 2 NT at Table 2. Typically this compares a staid one-bid with an aggressive 2 NT, usually based on a 5+ card suit to offset the high-card deficiency — except for 1 , which in most cases was strong and artificial (dictated by system) so not a useful comparison. In second suit 2 NT fared better than any suit opening, but in first and third it’s a mixed bag.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
Firstany1651 36050.212 NT35749.79
Firstany431 8435.152 NT15564.85
Firstany101 2083.332 NT416.67
Firstany111 2558.142 NT1841.86
Secondany1111 12729.402 NT30570.60
Secondany151 3748.052 NT4051.95
Secondany91 1320.972 NT4979.03
Secondany71 240.002 NT360.00
Thirdany771 11145.312 NT13454.69
Thirdany151 4361.432 NT2738.57
Thirdany61 1361.902 NT838.10
Thirdany41 133.332 NT266.67

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One of Suit vs Two Clubs

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened one of a suit at Table 1, and 2 (strong) at Table 2. For 1 , 1  and 1  this is almost always a “borderline 2  opening” decided differently at the two tables. For 1 , however, the comparison is biased, because it also includes strong-club openings.

I was surprised to see 2 fare better than 1 (except for a narrow first-seat loss) as the reduced bidding space should be a disadvantage — or at least that’s the hype of most big-club advocates. The comparison isn’t fair, however, because when the two bids coincide the strength of 2  is more narrowly defined. No doubt 1  forcing would fare much better than one of a suit on the 16-21 HCP range.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First16-371321 27450.462 26949.54
First16-37121 57.352 6392.65
First16-3761 2450.002 2450.00
First16-37141 5865.912 3034.09
Second16-37851 16036.612 27763.39
Second16-37121 2321.302 8578.70
Second16-3761 315.002 1785.00
Second16-37101 12.562 3897.44
Third16-37721 11232.562 23267.44
Third16-3751 2460.002 1640.00
Third16-3711 002 17100
Third16-37101 2944.622 3655.38

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One vs Two of Suit

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened one of a suit at Table 1, and two of the same suit at Table 2. The choice between 1  and 2  is almost always a natural 1  vs. Precision 2 , since the 9-15 HCP range precludes strong hands.

In the other three suits the choice was typically between a light one-bid and a weak two-bid, but the auctions are not individually screened, so various anomalies slip through such as two-suited two-bids (including 2  Flannery).

It is curious how position plays a significant role (except for hearts). Who would have thought that a natural 1  beats 2  only in second seat? Further, there is no consistency among the suits, as each has a unique pattern regarding position.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
First9-153121 70246.992 79253.01
First9-15751 17158.762 12041.24
First9-151771 31141.802 43358.20
First9-151381 25044.562 31155.44
Second9-151501 37952.202 34747.80
Second9-15271 5234.672 9865.33
Second9-15821 12741.372 18058.63
Second9-15631 16056.342 12443.66
Third9-15571 6829.442 16370.56
Third9-15181 3036.592 5263.41
Third9-15501 10238.492 16361.51
Third9-15251 4854.552 4045.45

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons

## One vs Four of Major

The following table compares cases where a hand was opened one of a major at Table 1, and four of the same major at Table 2, which obviously compares “going slow” versus preempting. Except for the cases in second seat, preempts show a profit. Data is sparse, however, so it’s too early to bet the farm.

SeatHCPCasesTable 1IMPsPercentTable 2IMPsPercent
Firstany291 5333.334 10666.67
Firstany291 5135.924 9164.08
Secondany71 1789.474 210.53
Secondany81 2580.654 619.35
Thirdany71 816.674 4083.33
Thirdany141 3347.144 3752.86

 Study 9X00   Main Top   Opening Bid Comparisons