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Response to 1NT opening

edited March 2013 in Anything Else
Hi Group,

With this hand, what would your response be to an opening of 1NT (standard ACOL, weak NT)

J 3

J 10 9 4

A 4

K Q 7 6 5


  • Start by transferring into spades (bid 2H) and then when partner has completed the trasnfer by bidding 2S, you bid 2NT. Pd can then choose which of the four contracts 2N, 3N, 3S, 4S is correct and you will pass whatever pd chooses.

    Without transfers this hand is difficult to bid. You can start with stayman, hiding the fifth spade, or bid 2S, giving up on game (weak TO - pd will pass), or bid 3S over-stating your strength.

    Ned Paul
  • edited 9:12AM
    Why is your first preference 2H (transfer)? Yes that suggest 5S but it does not give a point count. Surely stayman give more information?
  • Stayman does not give information at all - it asks for information. The information you ask for with Stayman is about FOUR-card majors, looking to match FOUR cards in your own hand for an EIGHT-card fit. So you use Stayman when you have a four card suit yourself, not a five card suit.

    Transfers immediately announce the 5-card or longer suit. You are right that the transfer does not give an immmediate point count (neither does Stayman of course) but this does not matter at all initially as - because of the transfer - you are going to get a second bid to describe your points. When partner has completed the transfer, that is the time to make clear your points:

    - with 0-10hcp just pass the completed transfer. This is the equivalent of a weak take out.
    - with 11-12hcp invite game. With only a 5-card suit (which you have already shown by transfer) invite by bidding 2N. With extra (i.e sixth) card in your transfer suit, invite by raising partner to 3H/3S.
    - with strong hand 13+ you can a) with just 5 of the transfer suit and otherwise balanced bid 3NT ; b) with extra (6 or more) cards in your suit bid game in your suit ; or c) you can bid a new 4-card suit, following the usual rules with two biddable suits that you will have a minimum length five-in-the-first-suit-four-in-the-second. Thus for example if you have five spades and four hearts and 13+. you respond 2H trf for spades and after 2S from partner, bid 3H, showing the four hearts and pd can bid the correct game. The new suit is forcing by the way. Again as in your example above you cannot easily bid this hand properly without using transfers.

    Summarising transfers, a weak responding hand to 1NT with a 5-card major gives you ONE bid - the transfer and out; a middle hand gives you TWO possible bids the transfer and an invitation in either NTs or your suit; and a strong hand gives you THREE options - game in NTs, game in your suit, or forcing bid in a new suit. This works very well - it's why transfers have become almost standard.

    Going back to Stayman for a moment, Stayman does not promise points. You simply guarantee to partner that whatever they respond - 2D, 2H or 2S - you will have a senseible reaction to their bid. If you cannot cope with one of these bids then either don't bid in the first place or have 11+hcp so you can run out to a 2NT invitation. But there are lots of hands with less than 11hcp that are suitable for Stayman.

    When responding, use Stayman for 4-card suits, transfers for 5-card suits.

    Ned Paul
  • edited 9:12AM
    Thanks for your helpful replies to my post. I understand and accept the INT, 2H, 2S, 2NT bidding and agree it is good bidding but would suggest that it would need to be something agreed with partner as it not standard ACOL (out of the book ACOL - it is not in any of my books).

    With regards to Stayman not showing a point count the book says . . . . The normal minimum for a Stayman 2C is 11 HCP. The Staymanite is then able to continue with a normal invitation if no fit is found.
    In this case the book is The New Complete Book of Bridge - Albert Dormer with Ron Klinger but I have half a dozen books and they all say the same thing - 11 HCP.

    So, as bidding (I would suggest) is about choosing the bid that gives the most / the best / most helpful information and there is often a choice of bids. In response the INT opening Staymen tells partner of a decent 4 card spade holding and also 11+ HCP whereas the transfer shows 5 spades with no indication of points and the following bid of 2NT could be invitational or it could be a sign off based upon some prior agreement / understanding.
  • Most partnerships play Stayman not guaranteeing 11hcp unless you rebid 2NT or higher.


    You can transfer into spades and pass but it is better to use Stayman on this hand. If pd responds 2H or 2S you pass, if pd bids 2D you just bid 2S like a weak takeout and partner should pass.


    You bid 2C Stayman and pass 2H. But if pd bids 2D or 2S, you bid 3C cancelling Stayman and play in 3C - partner passes of course. You have investigated hearts before committing to clubs. Is this not good?

    Americans call this kind of bidding 'garbage Stayman' but actually it's perfectly standard and very normal amongst duplicate players - and does improve your final contracts.

    With transfers the 11hcp rule you are trying to apply to Statyman also applies to transfers. After the transfer you cannot advance to 2NT or beyond without 11hcp, but again there are lots of hands where you can make the transfer with less than 11hcp and drop the bidding when partner has completed. 2NT after a transfers always shows 11-12hcp, just like a direct 2NT response; bid 3NT when you have 13+.
  • edited 9:12AM
    ***But if pd bids 2D or 2S, you bid 3C cancelling Stayman and play in 3C - partner passes of course. You have investigated hearts before committing to clubs. Is this not good?***

    This is very old-fashioned and might be unexpected to partner, so do discuss this before playing it.
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