NEW MINOR FORCING

By Larry Matheny

 

The bidding style loosely called “Standard American” has many flaws.  One of them is the continuation after opener rebids 1NT.  The problem is that responder’s rebids at the two-level are non-forcing and jumps to the three-level are forcing.  The only invitational bid left to responder is a raise to 2NT.  Take a look at these auctions and the problems they present:

 

          (1)                                    (2)                                    (3)

PARD   YOU                     PARD    YOU                    PARD   YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif       1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif                        1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif         1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif                      1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif        1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

 1NT       2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif                        1NT        2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif                      1NT       3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

 

#1.  This is non-forcing asking partner to pass or take a preference to spades.  Holding five spades and four hearts you have no way to invite.

#2.  This is non-forcing asking partner to pass.  You have no way to invite with a 5-card heart suit.

#3.  This is forcing to game but partner doesn’t know if you have four or five hearts.

 

These rules have been around for over sixty years and allow you to only sign off or force so what do you do with all of those invitational strength hands?  There are several solutions such as TWO-CLUB CHECKBACK, NEW MINOR FORCING, and TWO-WAY NEW MINOR FORCING.  I am going to present a description of the New Minor Forcing (NMF) convention.  This great tool solves (at least) four problems for you as responder: 

 

1.  It allows you to discover if opener has 3-card support for your major.

2.  It allows you to discover if opener holds four cards in the other major.

3.  You can distinguish between 5-4 and 5-5 major suit holdings.

4.  It lets you show both invitational and forcing raises for opener’s minor.

 

Let’s look at a problem hand. 

 

http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifKQ954 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifA72 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifA82 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gifJ5

 

PARD   YOU

 1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif        1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

 1NT       ??

 

You want to bid game, but which game?  If partner has three spades a 4http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif contract rates to play better.  If partner has only two spades, you'd rather play 3NT.  The problem is that a rebid of 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif would not be forcing and a jump to 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif would show an invitational hand with a 6+card spade suit.  (With 6+spades and a game-going hand you would simply rebid 4http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif.)  Enter NMF…simply rebid 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif.  This says nothing about the diamond suit; instead it shows at least invitational strength and asks opener about his distribution and strength.  Here are his possible rebids:

 

2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif      a 4-card heart suit (may also have 3 spades)

2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif      a minimum hand with 3-card spade support

2NT    a minimum hand without 4 hearts or 3 spades

3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif      a maximum hand with 3-card spade support

3NT    a maximum hand without 4 hearts or 3 spades

 

If he rebids 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif you bid 3NT.  Obviously you are not interested in hearts so you must hold five spades.  He will move to 4http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif holding 3-card support.  Remember, using NMF requires invitational or better strength. 

 

Here are some hands that are now easier to describe:

 

1.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifKQ954 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifAJ42 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ5 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif82 

 

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

  1NT            2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif

   ??

 

PARD           YOU

  2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif              Invite with 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

  2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif              Pass

  2NT            Pass

  3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif              Raise to 4http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

  3NT            Pass 

 

2.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifAJ954 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifAK942 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ5 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif8 

 

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

  1NT            3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

 

This sequence shows (at least) 5-5 in the majors.  You would have used NMF if you held only four hearts.  This makes it easy for partner to raise hearts holding three small.

 

You can also use NMF over partner’s jump rebid of 2NT.

 

3.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifAJ9 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifA9842 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ5 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif864 

 

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

  2NT            3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif

  ??

 

Partner will rebid 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif if he holds 3-card support, 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif holding a 4-card spade suit, and 3NT otherwise.  This frees up your 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif (over 2NT) to show a 6+card suit with slam interest.  Holding 6+ hearts with no slam interest you would simply rebid 4http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif.

 

4.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifAJ98 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifA9842 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ5 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif84 

 

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

  2NT            3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

  ??

 

This sequence shows four spades and five hearts.  If you were only 4-4, you would use NMF.  (It is assumed opener may have bypassed bidding a spade suit.)

 

5.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifAJ987 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifA9842 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ5 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif8

 

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

  2NT            3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

  ??

 

This sequence shows 5-5 or greater in the majors.  With 5-4, you would use NMF.

 

 

Now let’s look at a feature of NMF with which many people are not familiar.  After partner opens in a minor and rebids 1NT, we need to be able to support his minor with weak hands, invitational hands, and strong hands.  Here is the solution:

PARD           YOU

  1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif

  1NT              ??

 

6.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifhttp://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifAJ87 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifJ65 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif109654

7.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifhttp://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifAJ109 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifK6 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gifQ109542

8.  http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gifA3 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gifAK87 http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gifhttp://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gifAK9654

 

#6. Rebid 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif.  Since partner denied holding 4+ spades, a club partial may be safer.

#7. Rebid 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif  You want to invite and at the same time suggest shortness somewhere.

#8  Rebid 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif (NMF) followed by 3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif.  This shows a strong hand and suggests a club game or slam.

 

Wait….there’s more.  What about this sequence:

 

1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif      1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

1NT    ??

 

How do you discover if opener has 3-card spade support?  In theory a rebid of two of either minor is non-forcing so what do you do? 

 

There are (at least) two solutions:  1) Use 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif as your “New Minor” or, 2) Use your “Better Minor” to ask the questions.  My preference is 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif and here are the responses:

 

2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif Checkback after 1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif-1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif-1NT

 

   1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif    1http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif

   1NT   2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/c.gif              Artificial, invitational or better

             2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/d.gif, 2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif      Weak 

             2http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif             Constructive raise 8-9

             2NT           Invitational

             3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/h.gif             Limit raise 10-12

             3http://www.prairienet.org/bridge/s.gif             Invitational

 

NMF is an artificial bid and therefore must be alerted.  As always there are variations of this convention so please discuss it with your partner before adding it to your card.