Partner's First Response
Once your partner opens the bidding, if the next player passes, it's up to you to begin describing your hand.
You will hold a variety of hand types, each of which will require different treatment. Your hands will vary in strength as well, another facet about which you must tell partner. Bear in mind that once partner has revealed something about his hand — most descriptively by opening one of a major — your assessment of your hand will be expressed in “support points,” a combination of your high-card points and, if you have support for the suit partner has opened, any distributional values you might have, such as doubletons, singletons, or voids.
When partner opens one of a suit and you have at least three-card support for a major or four-card support for a minor, you can count points for short suits. Traditionally, with four-card trump support for partner's major, you can count one point for a doubleton in a side suit, three support points for a singleton, and five for a void. With three-card support for a major, count no extra for a doubleton, one for a singleton, and two for a void.
Assuming partner has opened at the one level, there are four kinds of hands you will have to describe:
Bad hand: usually less than 6 HCP. Pass tells your story.
Minimum strength: usually 6–9 high-card points, perhaps a “bad” 10.
Medium strength: usually a “good” 10 to a “bad” 12 points.
Game-forcing strength: a hand with which you would probably would have opened the bidding yourself, possibly even more.
The matter of “good” and “bad” points is worth addressing. Good points are aces and kings, four-card support (or better) for partner's major-suit opener, and suits with good intermediate cards (9s and 10s). “Bad” points are in hands with dull shape, three-card support, and high-card points in queens and jacks, especially doubleton queens and tripleton jacks. Some experts go so far as to add value to a hand that has no jacks.
In the parlance of bridge, a two-card holding of a queen and a jack is a “quack,” an especially dubious value considering that it represents 3 high-card points that might not take a trick. Beware of quacks in evaluating your hand.
Your response when partner opens the bidding at the one level depends in large measure on what the opening bid was. The most descriptive one-level opening bid is 1NT, which requires a completely different set of responses, all of which are covered in Chapter 17.
That leaves the openings of 1 ♣, 1 ♦, 1 ♥ and 1 ♠, which, as has been noted, have a very wide range, from as little as 12 HCP to as many as 20 or 21.