The popular and effective Stayman convention has traditionally been used when one partner opens 1NT and responder holds one or more 4-card majors and 8+ HCP. In recent years, Stayman has been used effectively in other situations. Three of these situations are discussed below:

Garbage Stayman: a typical hand would be
S J765
H T943
D T9765
C —
Responder has nothing but “garbage,”but the “garbage” is well distributed for our purposes–ideally, 4-4-5-0. If the partnership’s goal is to get the best score possible fom the cards held, letting partner play in 1NT with this “garbage” is unlikely to result in a good score; playing in 2D, 2H, or 2S should improve the results. Responder should bid 2C with this hand and then pass any response from partner. Th partnership will be in a 7- or 8-card fit (or better) and this dummy should be able to ruff some clubs and provide one or more entries for declarer.

~Drop Dead Stayman: here, responder holds a weak hand with 4-5 or 5-4 shape in the majors. Rather than to transfer to the 5-card major and pass, possibly missing a 4-4 fit in the other major, responder should bid2C. If opener responds with a major-suit bid, the best fit has been found; if opener responds 2D, denying a 4-card major, responder bids the 5-card major and opener passes. The partnership will have a 7- or 8-card fit. The weak hand will be playing the contract–a small price to pay for the opportunity to find the best fit. Computer analyses show that 60% of the time, the 1NT opener will hold a 4-card major. If so, you will find that fit 100% of the time! You will not be giving up the opportunity to show the 5-4 shape in the majors with invitational points; holding those values, transfer into the 5-card major and then bid the 4-card major at the cheapest level. Opener will know both your shape and point count.

~ Holding this hand:
S QT32
H QT32
D 432
C 72
one must decide whether to pass partner’s 1NT opener or to bid 2C, playing the odds that opener will bid one of the majors (the aforementioned 60% chance). If partner denies a 4-card major by bidding 2D, you should then bid 2H and partner will pass hoding three hearts or correct to 2S, and the partnership will play in a 4-3 fit. Note that if you also agree to play Drop Dead Stayman, partner will not know which hand you are describing. You can expect some losses from playing both systems, but the results will usually be better than a pass of the 1NT opener.

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