The rule of 14

The Rule of 14 is a bridge bidding convention used on the Acol Bridge. Used by responder when responding to partner’s initial offer.

When opener has opened with a one-of-a-suit offer and responder has a weak hand with a suit that can also be offered at one level, it is generally correct to do so rather than bid 1NT. However, if a change in suit response takes us to level two and we have less than 9 points, then that is when we would normally bet 1NT. It does not mean that we have a balanced hand, it just means that there are no other offers available to us and we have more than 6 points and therefore we should not check.

Here is an example:

(Our hand) South

Swords: 5 2

Hearts: K 9 8 6 3

Diamonds: J 10 5 3

Clubs: Q 6

The partner opened with an offer of a sword. We only have 6 points and we don’t have enough swords to support the partner’s sword offering. Ideally, we’d like to bid our heart on one level, but we can’t. We don’t have enough points to bid at both levels, so we are forced to bid 1NT. This does not show a balanced hand, it just tells partner that we have a weak hand and there are not enough spades to support.

How can we decide if our hand is strong enough for a response on both levels? This is where the Rule of 14 comes into play.

Using the rule of 14

Start by adding up the number of high card points you have. Then add to that the number of cards in the longest suit. If the total is 14 or more, the hand met the Rule of 14 and we can bid on both levels. If the total is less than fourteen, then we should bid 1NT.

Here are some more examples:

Example 1


S: 10 7 2

H: 8 5

D: A 9 5

C: KJ 9 7 3

The partner has opened with an offer of 1 heart. We cannot bid for our clubs without going up to both levels. Using the Rule of 14, we have 8 high card points and 5 cards in our longest suit. This gives us a total of 13, so we must respond with an offer of 1NT.

Example 2


S: 8 7 6

H: 8

D: Q 9 2

C: AQ 10 6 5 2

Partner has opened 1H. As in the previous hand, we want to bid clubs, but this would mean going up to level two. We have 8 high card points, but this time we have 6 cards in our longest suit. Adding these two gives us a total of 14, so we can bid 2 Clubs.

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