~Responding to 1NT with 5-4 or 5-5 in the Majors


If your hand holds 5-4 or 5-5 shape in the majors and you are weak, bid the hands the same way: first, bid 2C. If partner shows 4 cards in either major, you have found your fit—pass.
~If you hold 5-4 in the majors and opener bids 2D in response to your 2C inquiry, bid your 5-card major and opener will pass.
~If you are 5-5 in the majors, over 2D, bid one of your majors and opener will pass.

Things proceed a bit different when you are 5-4 in the majors and hold 8-9 HCP. Here you need two bids to show shape and strength. First, transfer into the 5-card major; then bid the 4-card major at the cheapest level. Partner will decide whether to play at three of your 4-card major, four of your 4-card major, 2NT, or 3NT (depending on what the previous bid was. If the bidding goes 1NT-2D, 2H-2S, you show five hearts and four spades and partner can still sign off at 2NT, if warranted. After the sequence, 1NT-2H, 2S-3H, the final contract will be at the 3 or 4 level.

If you hold 5-45 in the majors and 10+ HCP, you want to be in game as a final contract. For this hand, we bid the convention, Smolen. We start by responding 2C to partner’s 1NT; if opener shows a 4-card major, you have found your fit. Bid four of that suit. However, if partner bids 2D, denying a 4-card major, jump to three of your shortest major suit. By jumping, you tell opener you have game-going points. By bidding your 4-card major, you ensure that opener will be declarer in either 3NT (no 8-card fit in a major) or 4 of the major where an 8-card fit is found.

Finally, how do you handle 5-5 shape in the majors when either holding invitational or game-going values. Bid 3H directly over 1NT to show 5-5 shape in the majors and invitational values and 3S with game-going (or better) values. You and partner must agree as to what constitutes invitational and game-going values when holding 5-5 shape in the majors. It seems clear that an invitational hand does not require 8 HCP or that a game-going hand may be weaker than 10 HCP. These assumptions are particularly sound if you and your partner do not open 1NT if holding two doubletons. With only a single doubleton, opener will always have at least 3-card support for one of your majors—and your short suits are likely to limit losers in such a way as to benefit the contract.


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