Three suiter

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In the game of contract bridge a three suiter (or three-suited hand) denotes a hand containing at least four cards in three of the four suits. As a bridge hand contains thirteen cards, only two hand patterns can be classified as three suiters: 4-4-4-1 and 5-4-4-0.

Contract bridge card game

Contract bridge, or simply bridge, is a trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. In its basic format, it is played by four players in two competing partnerships, with partners sitting opposite each other around a table. Millions of people play bridge worldwide in clubs, tournaments, online and with friends at home, making it one of the world's most popular card games, particularly among seniors. The World Bridge Federation (WBF) is the governing body for international competitive bridge, with numerous other bodies governing bridge at the regional level.


In natural bidding systems, strong three suiters are often difficult to describe, as — following the likely response of partner in the short suit — they do not allow for a high-level notrump rebid, nor for a reverse bid. Some systems therefore use dedicated opening bids to describe strong three-suited hands (e.g. the 2 opening in the Roman system).

A bidding system in contract bridge is the set of agreements and understandings assigned to calls and sequences of calls used by a partnership, and includes a full description of the meaning of each treatment and convention. The purpose of bidding is for each partnership to ascertain which contract, whether made or defeated and whether bid by them or by their opponents, would give the partnership their best scoring result.

The standard treatment to describe a three-suited hand after an opposing opening in a suit is the takeout double. Conventions like the Kantar cuebid [1] and Cansino [2] can be used to introduce a three-suited hand after an opposing 1NT opening.

In the card game contract bridge, a takeout double is a low-level conventional call of "Double" over an opponent's bid as a request for partner to bid his best of the unbid suits. The most common takeout double is after an opponent's opening bid of one of a suit where the double shows a hand with opening values, support for all three unbid suits and shortness in the suit doubled. Normally, the partner of the doubler must bid his best suit but may pass if (a) his right hand opponent intervenes or (b) on the more rare occasions when his hand is such that he wishes to convert the takeout double to a penalty double.

See also

Single suiter

In contract bridge, a single suiter is a hand containing at least six cards in one suit and with all other suits being at least two cards shorter than this longest suit. Many hand patterns can be classified as single suiters. Typical examples are 6-3-2-2, 6-3-3-1 and 7-3-2-1 distribution.

Two suiter

In contract bridge, a two suiter is a hand containing cards mostly from two of the four suits. Traditionally a hand is considered a two suiter if it contains at least ten cards in two suits, with the two suits not differing in length by more than one card. Depending on suit quality and partnership agreement different classification schemes are viable. The more modern trend is to lower the threshold of ten cards to nine cards and consider 5-4 distributions also two suiters.

In the game of contract bridge, a balanced hand denotes a hand of thirteen cards which contains no singleton or void and at most one doubleton. Three hand patterns are classified as truly balanced: 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 and 5-3-3-2. The hand patterns 5-4-2-2 and 6-3-2-2 are generally referred to as semi-balanced.


  1. Manley (2011), page 294.
  2. Manley (2011), page 272.

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Mark Howard Horton is a British bridge journalist and expert player, as well as a former lawyer and chess champion. He has been the editor of Bridge Magazine since 1995. He currently lives in Bath with his partner Liz.

Barry Rigal

Barry Rigal is a bridge player, author, commentator and journalist. Born in England in 1958, he is married to world champion Sue Picus and lives in New York.

<i>The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge</i>

The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge (OEB) presents comprehensive information on the card game contract bridge with limited information on related games and on playing cards. It is "official" in reference to the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) which authorized its production and whose staff prepared and/or supervised its various editions.