xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club

Mountnessing Bridge Club


Several interesting points!


Hand played on 

21st December 2006

Board number

12, Red Section




NS Vulnerable

Submitted by

Alaric Cundy

































































This hand provides several interesting points.


West's 1NT opener was of the standard 12-14 HCP variety, and the 2NT response was alerted and explained as "He wants me to bid 3".  South opted to bid 3, hoping that if the opportunity arose, it would be possible to show the heart suit on the next round of bidding.  Not surprisingly,  with 3-card trump support and some useful looking controls, North raised to 4


West opted to lead the nine of hearts as the safest-looking lead, and no doubt was both pleased and surprised to see partner ruff it!   A diamond return enabled a second heart ruff, and with a second diamond trick plus a trump winner still to follow, the contract failed by 2 tricks.  That was rather unlucky for Declarer, as without the ruffs the contract is secure on a 3-2 trump break.


Quite clearly, NS have an easy 4 contract on - though it was only actually played there at one table, as evidently EW bid on to 5.  NS's best bet over 5 is to 'take the money' as 5 fails by one trick - as demonstrated at two tables!  However, the -200 from 4-2 proved to be a complete bottom for NS.  So how could they have done better?


The first problem on this hand is faced by East.  Clearly East has no desire to play in 1NT with such a weak but distributional hand.   Two points emerge:

  • Especially if you play the standard 12-14 HCP 1NT opening you must have some means of making a weakness take-out into a minor suit.  Most player's system card includes some version of Stayman, and also red-suit transfers, so a special 'gadget' is needed if you want to have the ability to 'bale out' into 3 of a minor.  The style adopted here by EW is that 2NT is used as a transfer to an (unspecified) minor - partner is asked to bid 3, which the weak hand plays as 'pass or correct' depending on which minor is held.

  • If you have a weak two-suiter opposite partner's 1NT opener then you are normally only able to show one of the suits.  If you imply one suit (e.g., via a transfer) and then bid a second suit, partner has every right to expect reasonable overall values as well as 'shape'.  On this particular hand, East had decided to view his / her hand as 'weak with clubs' - in effect ignoring the diamond suit.


The 2NT bid presents problems for South.  In my view, the best thing for South to do is to pass initially - if the bid made in front of you is a transfer that the opener is obliged to respond to, you don't have to bid, even with a decent hand, as the bidding will come back to you.  South might be worried about the validity of enquiring about the 2NT bid and then passing - certainly such action puts pressure on North, who would be obliged to pass unless he / she had made a trap pass over the 1NT opener (clearly not the case here).  So when West's 3 relay bid is passed back round to South, South's best bet is to bid 4 - that ought to be taken as a two-suiter, and NS easily find their 4 contract.  EW might well sacrifice cheaply in 5, but at least NS still get a positive score...


At the table, West's lead of the nine of hearts looked 'inspired' - but given the hand he / she held and given the bidding as at this table, that choice of opening lead 'jumps out'.  From West's perspective, partner has a weak hand with a minor suit - but he / she doesn't know which minor suit, and so to choose either would be a guess, and to guess incorrectly could be costly from those holdings.  Had East deployed a more specific transfer bid to clubs, then West might have led a club - and the contract sails home if Declarer immediately cashes two top trumps.


For those who are interested in methods of transferring to 3 of a minor opposite a 1NT opener, three commonly used styles are:

  • 2NT showing either minor (as here), or 2 showing either minor

  • 2 as a transfer to clubs and 2NT as a transfer to diamonds (as I deploy)

  • Stayman followed by 3 / is another route that is sometimes used

Obviously, if the natural meaning of 2NT is taken up by your chosen 'gadget' then you need some other way of showing a 11/12 HCP balanced hand - the deployment of non-promissory Stayman is one way around that problem.


It may just rub salt in the wound for our luckless NS pair to note that had EW's 'gadget' required a 2 bid from East, South could have doubled (to show spades) and then bid hearts (natural)...  It's only a game!



I have received these comments from Tim Prior:


Here's a method which is popular with tournament players for playing in a minor after 1NT opener.

1NT   2NT  is natural

1NT    2  shows   one of : (i)  weak, one suited minor  or (ii) weak, both minors or (iii) strong both minors


To enable the side to play in the better fit when responder has hand type (ii), the 1NT opener should show which is his / her better minor:

1NT    2

3           = better clubs  (i.e. find the best fit, responder can correct to 3)


1NT    2

2NT        = better diamonds. Over this 3 shows a 1-suiter with clubs, weak. 3 is weak and to play


This scheme allows you to show both one and two suited hands with the minors.


For completeness:

1NT    2

3      3/   show a Game Forcing hand with at least 5-4 in the minors, and shortage in the major bid.