Better Bridge: Class 2

Opening 1NT/2NT

Standard values for a 1NT opener are: 1NT–15-17 HCP, a balanced or semi-balanced hand with no singleton or void, no more than one doubleton. It is not illegal to vary any of these parameters; that is, some professionals recommend opening 1NT with a few as 10 or as many or as many as 18 HCPs. The range is usually limited to  three or four: 10-14, 14-16, 15-18, or some variations to these ranges. You may open 1NT with a singleton, usually an ace or king; others may open with a 5-card major or 6-card minor, while opening 1NT with two doubletons is frequently employed. You and partner should agree on the parameters of your opening bid, such as the HCP range and the shape of the hand. Most of the asking bids and transfer bids that your partnership may employ will be based on the standard HCP range of 15-17. If your partnership chooses a different HCP for your 1NT opener, then your responses and subsequent bids will need to be adjusted to the range you have chosen for your NT opener.

The intent of the partnership in subsequent should be to find the appropriate fit of 25+ HCPs if balanced with no 8+-card fit in a major suit or 25+ playing points if an appropriate 8+-card fit can be found in a major.

Here are the basic conventions usually employed by responder to seek an appropriate suit or NT contract: Stayman, Jacoby Transfers, Minor Suit Transfers, 2NT/3NT/4NT responses.

~Opening 1NT (Stayman Example)

The bid usually shows 15-17 HCP, no 5-card major, no 6-card minor, no singleton or void, and rarely two doubletons.
Responses: modern players prefer that the 1NT bidder play as many of the contracts as possible to keep the strong hand hidden from the defense. In order to cause opener to bid a suit first, experts use the Stayman convention and Jacoby Transfers to cause opener to make the first call in a suit.
Stayman: holding 8-9 HCP and one or two 4-card majors, responder bids 2C over 1NT to ask if opener has a 4-card major. Without such, opener bids 2D. With two 4-card majors, opener bids hearts first. If opener bids the major in which you hold less than 4 cards, bid 2NT (with 10+ HCP, bid 3NT). Opener will know you have 4 cards in the unbid suit.
S AJ76
H KQ54

S KT32
H A76
D Q983
C 65
North opens 1NT and South has enough HCP (8) to invite game. With four spades, South bids 2C to ask if North has a 4-card major. With four cards in both majors, North bids the lower (2H). South has only invitational points, and bids 2NT. North knows that South would not have bid 2C without a 4-card major. If it isn’t hearts, it must be spades. Since North has 17 HCP, partner’s 8-9 should be enough for game most of the time, so North bids 4S. Note that by bidding 2C, South ensures that if  North has a 4-card major, the North hand will be the first to bid the major and will be declarer.

~Jacoby Transfers

Another useful convention after partner has opened 1NT or 2NT is called Jacoby Transfer. Here you have a major suit with 5+ cards and wish to have opener bid the suit so that the strong hand will be hidden if the contract is played in that suit.
~You bid 2D over 1NT to transfer partner to 2H.
~You bid 2H over 1NT to transfer partner to 2S.
After partner has followed orders and made the transfer bid, you have a variety of possible actions depending on the strength of your hand and the number of cards you have in the transfer suit.
~With 0-7 HCP, pass
~With 8-9 HCP, bid 2NT with 5 cards in the transfer suit and 3 of the transfer suit with 6+ cards in the suit.
~With 10+ HCP and 5 cards in the transfer suit, bid 3NT.
~With 10+ points and a 6-card suit, bid 4 of the transfer suit.
Examples: Partner has opened 1NT. What is your bid with each of the following hands?
S JT765
D 76
C T82

S T987
H AQ65
D A32
C 32

S 43
H Q654
D A32
C 32


S 43
H QJT765
D A3
C J43

#1. Bid 2H to transfer opener to 2S; then bid 2NT to invite game.
#2. Bid 2C to show 8+ HCP and one or more 4-card majors. If opener shows a 4-card major, bid game in that suit. If opener denies a 4-card major by bidding 2D, jump to 3NT.
#3. Pass with less than 8 HCP and no 5-card major or 6-card minor.
#4. Bid 2D to transfer opener to 2H. Then, with 8-9 HCP and a 6-card suit, invite game and show the 6-card major by bidding 3H.
The principle of bidding game or inviting game is this: If your HCP added to the minimum partner has shown equals 23-24, make an invitational bid; if that number totals 25+, make a game bid; if the total is 33+, make a slam bid.

Minor Suit Transfer

When you hold a weak hand of 0-7 HCP and a 6-card minor, you should tell partner about that holding my responding 2S to partner’s 1NT opener. Partner should alert the bid; either opponent may ask the meaning of the “alert” announcement when it is the asking-opponent’s turn to bid. An appropriate means of asking is to say, “please explain.”

After the 2S bid by responder, opener is required to bid 3C. With a 6+-card club suit, responder would pass the 3C bid; however, with a 6+-card minor suit, responder would correct to 3D, and opener would pass. 

Note that when responder responds 2S to partner’s 1NT opener, it announces to partner that responder hold a 6+-card holding in a minor suit and a weak hand. the bid tells opener the final contract will be 3C or 3D.

2NT/3NT response

When responder holds no significant shape (4-card or longer major) and 8-9 HCP, the proper bid is 2NT. This bid invites opener to bid 3NT if holding a good 16 HCP or any 1NT opener with 17 HCP. With 10-15 HCP, and no significant shape, responder should bid 3NT. With appropriate shape and 16-17 HCP, responder should make a Quantitative Jump-Raise” to 4NT. Opener should pass with 15 HCP, bid 5NT with 16 HCP, and jump to 6NT with 17 HCP.

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