RESPONDING TO PARTNERíS 1NT OPENING BID

 

PART II Ė MINOR SUITS

 

By Larry Matheny & Steve Turner

 

 

Part I, responding with the major suits, was presented May 2005.

 

The lowly minors are looked down upon when compared to major suit or notrump contracts.Still, we need to be able to find the right level when a minor suit contract is best.You want to end up in a minor whenever notrump is not possible or you have no major suit fit.Also, discovering length and a fit in a minor suit can often allow you to confidently bid and make a notrump contract.An effective minor suit response system should allow you to sign-off, invite game, or show a big hand after partner opens 1NT.Also, such a system should attempt to keep the opening NT hand concealed.

 

For our discussion today, an opening 1NT range of 15-17 high card points and Jacoby Transfers for the majors are assumed.Letís start with the single suited hands.At the end, from all of the options presented, Iíll present a brief ďmodernĒ package for you to consider.

 

 

SINGLE SUITED HANDS

 

WEAK HANDS ††††††

 

Holding 0-7 hcp, a five-card minor, and a semi-balanced hand, it is usually correct to pass partnerís 1NT bid.However, with a more distributional hand, you may want to try to buy the contract in your long minor.

 

Here are the types of hands you would want to try to sign off in your minor:

 

S3†† H763†† DK108765†† C1042

S873†† HJ†† D109†† CQ1097653

These hands are very likely of little value to your partner in a 1NT contract.Also, there is a good possibility the opponents can make a partscore or even game, and passing 1NT will make it too easy for them to enter the auction.

 

Letís take a look at some ways to show a weak hand with a long minor suit.Keep in mind that a lead directing double by an opponent can be a disadvantage to any approach you select.

 

1.Stayman.An old way to show a weak hand with a long (6+) minor is to bid 2C and then bid your minor after partnerís response to Stayman.Here is an example:

 

PARD †† YOU

1NT††† †††† 2C

2H/2S†††† 3C/3D = weak hand and asks opener to pass.

 

Pro:†† Easy to remember.

Con:The big hand becomes dummy.

 

2.Relay.Use 2S as a relay to 2NT and then sign off in your long minor.

 

Pro:Easy to remember.

Con:The big hand becomes dummy.

 

 

3.Minor suit transfer bids.You can use 2S to show clubs and 2NT to show diamonds.(Unlike transfers to the majors, these bids must be Alerted instead of announced.)

 

Pro:†† The big hand will be concealed.

Con:You lose 2NT as an invitational raise.There is a reasonable workaround for this, using Stayman and rebidding 2NT as your raise.

 

INVITATIONAL HANDS

 

On many semi-balanced hands with a long minor it may be best to invite game by simply raising to 2NT.However, there are distributional hands that are best shown by bidding the long minor.

 

1.Jump to three level.One method is to use a jump to three of the minor as invitational.If opener has a maximum hand along with a fit for your suit (super-accept), he will bid 3NT.If not, playing in three of the minor may be your best spot.Examples:

 

PARD †† YOU††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PARD YOU

1NT††† †††† 3C†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1NT†††††† 3D

Pass*†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† 3NT*

 

*minimum hand ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *max hand with diamond fit

 

Pro:You pinpoint the shape/strength immediately.

Con:The big hand becomes dummy when game cannot be bid.

 

2.Minor suit transfers.Minor-suit transfer bids are another method used to invite game.If opener has a maximum 1NT along with a fit for your suit, he can bid the next step instead of accepting the transfer.You can then continue on to game.With an average hand, he will accept the transfer and again you play three of a minor.More examples:

 

PARD †† YOU††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PARD †† YOU

1NT††† ††† 2S(transfer to clubs)†††††††††††† †††††††† 1NT††††††† 2S

2NT*†† ††† 3NT††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3C*†††††† Pass

 

*max 1NT with a club fit†††††††††††††††††††††††† *minimum 1NT or perhaps no club fit

 

Pro:The big hand is concealed.

Con:Occasionally lead directing doubles of 2S are made.

 

 

FORCING HANDS

 

To force with a minor shows either a hand with slam potential or one with such distribution that a raise to 3NT is not appropriate.

 

 

1.Jump to the three level.This option shows a big hand, perhaps with slam interest.(Remember this was also suggested as a way to bid invitational hands.You must choose one or the other.)With a fit and suitable hand, opener can cue bid to show controls.Otherwise he will sign off in 3NT.

 

Pro:Game force/slam interest is shown immediately.

Con:The frequency of this is low so it has limited value.

 

 

2.Stayman followed by the minor.This shows a four-card major and five-card (or longer) minor.For example: SAQ73†† HK4†† D3†† CKJ10932

 

PARD †† YOU

1NT††† †††† 2C

2H†††††††††† 3C

 

Slam is possible if opener has a fit with either of your suits.

Pro:Ability to find a 4-4 major suit fit as well as show 5+ length in a minor with slam interest.

Con:None but again remember this was a possible option to show a weak hand so you canít have it both ways.

 

3.Minor suit transfers.The transfers work very well here.If opener makes a super accept, you can move toward slam.If he shows an indifferent hand for your minor, you can reluctantly sign off in 3NT.Another advantage for the transfer bids is that responder can show a short suit and perhaps avoid an embarrassment in 3NT.

 

For example:

 

YOU:†† †††††††† S4†† HKQ5†† DAJ4†† CKJ8754

 

PARD:††††††† SQJ7†† HAJ104†† DKQ3†† CQ93

 

PARD †††† YOU

1NT††† †††††† 2S = transfer to clubs

†††††††† 3C††††† †††††† 3S = spade shortness

†††††††† 4C††††† †††††† 5C

 

Openerís 3C rebid showed a minimum hand.After responder showed shortness in the spade suit, opener decided game in a minor might not be that bad after all.

 

Pro:Total partnership co-operation throughout the auction and dummy is right-sided.

 

Con:Occasionally lead directing doubles of 2S are made.

 

 

 

 

TWO- SUITED HANDS

 

 

A hand with both minors increases the probability that NT may not be the best strain.Again, you need to be able to sign off, invite game, and force to game or slam.At matchpoints (pairs) it is important to remember that 3NT is still often the right game contract.

 

WEAK HANDS

 

1.Minor Suit Stayman.The response of 2S to openerís 1NT asks partner to bid a four-card minor; otherwise 2NT.Responder will pass a minor suit response or bid 3C over 2NT to ask opener to take a preference of the minors.

 

Pro:You will find your best minor suit fit while you escape 1NT.

Con:The big hand often becomes dummy.

 

 

2.Jump to three level.A jump to three of a minor may be used to show a two-suited hand.The most common method is for 3C to show a weak hand with 5-5 (or longer) minors and 3D for hands with game going values with long minors.After a weak 3C response, opener is expected to take a preference at the three-level.

Pro:†† Again you will end up in your best minor suit fit.

Con:The big hand may become dummy.

 

 

3.Relay.Bid 2S relaying partner to 2NT and then bid 3C asking partner to take a preference.

 

Pro:You will find your best minor suit fit.

Con:The big hand will often be dummy.

 

 

INVITATIONAL HANDS

 

 

Jump to the three level.You saw in the last section that a jump to 3C could be used to show a weak 5-5 and 3D to show a strong 5-5.If you use minor suit Stayman to sign off you can use 3C to show an invitational hand with both minors instead of a weak 5-5.This gives you:

 

1NT††† 2S = minor suit Stayman (weak hands)

 

1NT††† 3C = 5-5 minors invitational

 

1NT††† 3D = 5-5 minors forcing

 

Pro:This allows you to show all minor two-suiters.

Con:More to remember.

 

 

FORCING HANDS

 

Just as with the single-suit strong hands, to force with both minors shows either a hand with slam potential or one with such distribution that a 3NT bid is not appropriate.

 

 

 

1.†† Minor suit Stayman.You use 2S to discover if opener has four or more in one of the minor suits.If not, he responds 2NT and you may now force with a minor or bid a major to show shortness.I know this sounds complex but it is effective.Obviously with each of these different methods, you cannot use one to show both weak and strong hands.

 

Pros:You can discover if there is fit at a low level.

Cons:More to remember.

 

2.Jump to the three level.A jump to 3D is used to show both minors and a strong hand.Opener should rebid 3NT to show the majors stopped and no interest in the minors.With a really big hand, responder may continue at the four-level.

 

Pro:One bid shows your strength and your suits.Opener can cooperate or signoff.

 

Con:Big hand may become dummy.

 

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Here is a typical convention card layout used by many intermediate and advanced players today:

 

Under NOTRUMP OPENING BIDS

3C††††† 5-5 minors Weak

3D††††† 5-5 minors Forcing

 

2S††††† transfer to 3C(opener rebids 2NT with super accept)

2NT††† transfer to 3D(opener rebids 3C with super accept)

 

This package covers all sequences involving a single long minor (weak, invitational, or strong), and two long minors (weak and strong).Not on the convention card, but by agreement, are the following treatments:

 

1NT††† 2C††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1NT††† 2C

2X††††† 2NT(Alertable)†††††††††††††††† 2X††††† 3C or 3D (natural and forcing)

 

 

Summary:I hope you werenít confused by all of the different conventions and agreements presented here.The important thing to take away from this session is that it is important you and your partners have the tools to find the minor suits.And after youíve finished that task, start discussing ways to show the minors after partner opens 2NT.Good luck!