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Walsh - a set of responses to partner's 1 opening

Walsh is a treatment in response to partner's 1 opening in a standard American or 2/1 type system. The treatment works equally well if you play better minor or short club.

The fact that Walsh responses to 1 are so effective is just one of the reasons that I prefer to play short rather than better minor, and that I always open 1 rather than 1 when 3-3 or 4-4 in the minors and cannot open 1NT.

When partner opens 1 the standard responses are up-the-line and one bids a 4-card suit in preference to a 4-card or suit. Playing Walsh you ignore a 4 (or 5) card suit and respond in the 4-card major with a weak hand.


For these hands partner has opened 1, what do you respond if playing Walsh?

Hand A Hand B Hand C Hand D Hand E
Q973 9753 AJ97 9753 KJ5
J864 Q65 K7 K7 Q73
KQ54 KQ654 QJ105 65 Q863
6 6 1052 A9753 J86
Hand A: 1. This hand is worth just one bid, so ignore the 's and bid majors up-the-line.
Hand B:

1 . This is only worth one bid, so get the major suit in.

Hand C: 1. This hand has invitational values, so bid the suit and reverse into 2 over partner's 1NT response.
Hand D: 1. A raise would deny a 4-card major.
Hand E: 1NT, whether you play this as 6-9 or 8-10 this is the sensible bid.

Opener's rebids are also different if playing Walsh. You open 1 and partner responds 1, what do you rebid when playing Walsh?

Hand F Hand G Hand H        
KJ93 KJ93 KJ93        
KJ93 KJ9 KJ93        
K5 K54 K54        
Q54 Q54 Q5        
Hand F: 1NT. This is the major point of the Walsh system – assuming partner is weakish, you get the 1NT contract played by the right hand and give no information away to the opposition about your major suit holdings. If partner has a 4-card major then he will reverse into it and the fit is not lost.
Hand G:

1NT. This hand is an example of why you should open 1 in preference to 1 . If you open 1 the sequence will likely go 1 - 1 - 1 - 1NT and you end up with the wrong hand as declarer and the opponents knowing too much about your distributions.

Hand H: 1NT. This is where you want to be opposite a weakish hand and is an example of one of the reasons why it is better to play a short rather than better minor.

Now I first read about Walsh in Marty Bergen's excellent book “Better Bidding With Bergen” but there are a couple of points that are unclear in his book:


Marty says that if you respond 1 , partner rebids 1NT and you reverse into a major then that shows 5+ 's. I cannot see this, surely responder can have just 4 's.


Marty says that you should bid the major in preference to the suit with a hand that is worth only one bid; but he later says that a subsequent reverse shows full opening values. This does not allow for invitational values and I play that the reverse guarantees only invitational values.


So, in my treatment, a bid by responder followed by a reverse into a major over 1NT only guarantees 4 's and only promises invitational values. Hand C is an example.

If you want more examples, or have yet to be convinced that Walsh is a great system, then read Marty's book; in fact he considers it so important that it's the first chapter!


Playing Walsh is not standard and most sequences need alerting:

1 - 1 - 1NT needs alerting as “could conceal 1 or 2 four-card majors”
1 - 1/ needs alerting as “could by-pass a suit if weak”.
There are a number of inferences that can be made when playing Walsh. Consider the sequence 1 - 1 - 1 - 1♠, in standard this simply shows 's and ♠'s. Playing Walsh it also shows at least invitational values.
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