Lie About Your Shape?

Suppose you pick up a hand like this:

♠J9732 ♥A7 ♦4 ♣AKJT3

You definitely want to open this hand, with its 13 HCP and two five-card suits.

But, one of those suits is much better than the other. Should you open 1♣? You know the rule is that with two five card suits you open the higher-ranked one, but with this big a difference, should you lie?

As my teacher says, you have three choices with this hand. You can open 1♠; you can open 1♠; or you can open 1♠. It isn’t how good, it is how many.

Suppose we make the hand better so that it is good enough to reverse, by adding the ♥K or ♦A. Should we lie now?

Answer: no.

The problem is, once you open 1♣, if you later bid 1♠, you partner will never understand you have five spades. Best case, you get a chance to bid spades twice, which will convince partner you have SIX clubs and five spades. Lying about your shape is a bad idea.

The danger is real, too. With our original hand, after 1♣ partner may answer 1N, even though he has three spades. You have no decent second bid and will have to bid 2♣, losing your spade fit, or lie again by bidding 1N without a balanced hand, in which case that whistling sound will be a diamond lead blowing through your dummy.

The one case where a case can be made for lying is a 12-15 point opener with four diamonds and five clubs, such as:

♠K84 ♥5 ♦KQ54 ♣AQ985 or
♠K8 ♥95 ♦KQ54 ♣AQ985

If you open 1♣ there is a high chance that partner will bid a major or 1N and you will be unable to mention your diamonds because to do so is a reverse. You don’t have enough points to reverse. And in the hand with a singleton, you can’t bid 1N even if you somehow convinced yourself it is a good idea. You’ll have to bid 2♣ with just five of them.

Some players will open that hand with 1♦ so they can bid 2♣ next if necessary. The lie is not extreme, either, as you would open 1♦ with a (23)44 hand as well, so partner will not assume you have five diamonds for sure.

Many experts say they won’t lie about their shape even in that case. Your call. You can also do both, choosing the better suit.

If you have enough to reverse, certainly bid 1♣.