4441 hands are notoriously difficult to handle. Modern Acol uses the approach that there are two possibilities when you open one of a suit: either (i) you are balanced and too strong to open 1NT – you plan to rebid in No Trumps or (ii) you are unbalanced – you plan to rebid your second suit and will promise five cards in your first suit. The 4441 hand doesn’t quite fit into either category.
This means that you are likely to have to tell your partner a lie:
Your options are:
1. You open 1D, planning to rebid 2D if partner responds 2C. This is a lie as you have promised a 5-card suit.
2. You open 1D, planning to rebid 2NT if partner responds 2C. This is a lie as you have promised 15+ points, but only have 14.
3. You open 1H, planning to rebid 2D if partner responds 2C. This is a lie as you have promised a 5-card heart suit.
All option have draw-backs. Stephen Cashmore (Bridge 125) argues that you should choose to open 1H (option 3), but doesn’t address the problem of the missing fifth heart.
My choice would be option 1 – you are deceiving partner about your holding in a minor suit not a major suit. This will often turn out ok – maybe partner will bid again, you will be happy to then bid 3NT; maybe partner will have undisclosed 4-card diamond support (even 3-card support may be sufficient at the 2-level); maybe the opponents will choose to enter the bidding because you have signed off at a low level.
My second choice would be option 2. I really do not like pretending to have as 5-card major!