Bidding six-four hands (6-6-4 or 6-4-6)?

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 07/06/2018
Level: Intermediate

It's one of the most-asked questions:

"When I'm 6-4 and open the 6-card suit, should I repeat the 6-card suit or bid the 4-card suit next?"

Bad news -- there is no "right answer."  There is no definitive rule or agreement among teachers and experts.

Here are some mainstream thoughts/guidelines:

With 6 of a minor and 4 of a major

For example, with:

♠ KJ96  
♥ 2  
♦ K2  
♣ AJ7642

 Open 1♠ and rebid 1♠ if partner answers in a red suit. But, if partner responds 1NT, you aren't strong enough for 2♠ (which shows a good enough hand to be at the 3-level when partner likely goes back to clubs).  With: 

♠ 8 
♥ A1086  
♦ QJ10765  
♣ AJ

 open 1♠ and rebid 2♠ after a 1♠ (or 1NT) response. You are not strong enough to reverse.

With 6 of a major and 4 of another suit

            For example, rebid 2♠ after 1♠-1♠ with: ♠ 6  ♥ AQ10765  ♦ K765  ♣ K2.


These are guidelines only; there is still room for judgment. Some players are strong believers that with a 6-card major and a 4-card side suit they should always bid the 4-card suit on Round 2. They feel it is important to show at least 9 cards in their hand (partner will know they are at least 5-4 in 2 suits) as opposed to only 6 cards (which is all partner knows when you repeat the 6-card suit on Round 2).

"Form of scoring" is certainly relevant. At matchpoints, where playing a higher-scoring partial is so important, the scales should tip more towards repeating a 6-card major (to avoid the risk of ending in a lower-scoring minor).

"Suit quality" is also a big consideration. Even though it is a minimum hand, I'd rebid 2♠ after 1♠-1NT with:

♠ J76542  
♥ 5  
♦ AKQ10  
♣ K2
.   But, with:

♠ KQJ1076  
♥ A2  
♦ Q765  
♣ 3,

I'd surely rebid 2♠ and eschew the diamonds.

"2/1 Auctions."  If the auction begins, for example, 1♠-2♠, especially if it is GF, there will be plenty of time to repeat a 6-card suit later (there will be a "later."). So, when in a GF, it is usually best to show the 4-card suit ASAP. 


What about 6-5? Click here to read more.