The Rule of 14 is one of several bridge bidding conventions used when playing Acol Bridge. Like many bridge bidding conventions it is used in one specific situation. In this case it is used by the Responder in response to their partner’s opening bid of 1 of a suit when the Responder has a weakish hand.
If the Responder has fewer than 6 points they will usually pass. However, if they have 6+ points they should bid. With fewer than 9 points that bid will usually be at the one level. If you can’t make a suitable suit bid at the one level it is usual to bid 1NT with 6-9 points. This doesn’t mean that you actually have a balanced hand. It is a way of telling your partner that you have 6-9 points, you can’t support the suit they have bid and you can’t make another suitable bid at the 1 level.
Take a look at this example hand:
Imagine that our partner has opened the bidding at 1 spade. Our hand only contains 6 points and we can’t support partner’s bid of spades. We shouldn’t pass, as we hold 6+ points. Our ideal bid would be 1 heart, but we can’t make that bid, which forces us to bid 1NT as we don’t have enough points to bid at the 2 level. Or do we? Can we sometimes bid at the 2 level even if we hold fewer than 9 points? This is the situation when we use the Rule of 14.
The Rule of 14
To find out if our hand satisfies the rule of 14 we add the number of high card points in our hand to the number of cards in our longest suit. If the total is 14+ then we can go ahead and bid at the 2 level, even if we hold fewer than 9 points.
In the example above we had 6 points and our longest suit had 5 cards. The total if just 11 points, so we would have to bid 1NT as the hand doesn’t satisfy the rule of 14.
Now take a look at this example:
Here are some more examples:
S: J 9 3, H: 7, D: K 6 4, C: K J 9 8 3 2
Our partner has opened the bidding with a bid of 1 Heart. We can’t support in hearts and don’t have enough spades to bid in spades. Ideally we would like to bid our clubs, but this would mean raising to the two level and we only hold 8 points. What does the Rule of 14 tell us about this hand? Adding our high card points to the length of our longest suit gives us a total of 14. We have satisfied the rule and can go ahead and make a bid of 2 Clubs.