More-Efficient Responses to One Notrump

by Denis Lesage

Modern technology allows responder to one notrump to handle important hand-types by foresaking Garbage Stayman while using two clubs as nonforcing Stayman, three clubs as game-forcing Stayman, and transfers at both the two-level (at most game interest) and the three-level (slam-invitation-plus). These tools can be utilized even within the wide-range of shapes now deemed permissible for a strong-notrump opening. Specific gains of the technique described below compared to Bridge World Standard (BWS) and similar methods include: reaching a five-three fit in opener's five-card major when responder has only invitational values with three-card support; stopping at two of a major when both hands are minimum and a fit has been located; reaching four-four fits and most five-three spade fits at the two-level; ending in three of a minor when opener is minimum with no four- or five-card major and responder has invitational strength with at least four-four in the minors; reaching five-three fits in opener's major when responder has game-forcing values with three cards in opener's major and five cards in the other major; indicating or denying slam interest at a low level; stopping in three diamonds when responder has five diamonds and a five-card major with invitational strength; locating some five-three major-suit fits and some minor-suit fits that a range-asking two-spade response would miss; avoiding three notrump when a maximum opener faces an invitational-strength responder and each partner has a weak doubleton in the same major suit and there is no eight-plus-card fit in the other major.

More-Efficient Responses

Two clubs is used with most invitational-strength hands and with game-going hands that include five of a major and three or four of the other major. When opener shows a minimum, responder's non-jump continuations are nonforcing; when opener shows a maximum, the auction is game-forcing.

Opener rebids: two hearts|two spades|two notrump with a minimum and four hearts|five spades|five hearts, or three clubs|three diamonds|three hearts|three spades|three notrump with a maximum and four hearts|four spades|five hearts|five spades|four-four majors; otherwise two diamonds. After opener's two-diamond rebid, responder can relay with two hearts (denying an appropriate holding for any other rebid); invite with two spades (five spades and three or four hearts), two notrump (three=five majors), or three of a minor (six-card suit); or force with three hearts|three spades|three notrump with five=four or five=three|three=five|four=five majors.

After the two-heart relay, opener can bid two spades (minimum; four spades), two notrump (minimum; no four-plus-card major [responder's three-club continuation is pass-or-correct for better minor]), or three clubs|three diamonds|three hearts|three spades|three notrump (maximum; no four-plus-card major; five clubs|five diamonds|weak doubleton in hearts|weak doubleton spades|no weak doubleton in a major. After opener's other rebids, the bidding is natural in the context of responder's possible hand-types, except that (i) after opener's two-notrump rebid, responder's four diamonds is a puppet to four hearts; (ii) after opener's three-club, three-diamond, or three-notrump rebid, responder's four diamonds|four hearts is a puppet to four hearts|four spades.

Two diamonds and two hearts are major-suit transfers, as in BWS except that: (i) these bids deny slam interest; (ii) with five-five majors and invitational strength, responder transfers to two spades, then bids three hearts; (iii) with four=five majors and invitational strength, responder transfers to two hearts and bids two spades (nonforcing); (iv) with game-going values and five spades and five-plus hearts, responder transfers to two hearts, then bids three spades; (v) with five of a major and either five diamonds with invitational strength or four-plus diamonds with game-forcing strength, responder transfers to the major and then bids three clubs (with a minimum, opener bids three diamonds or three of responder's major, or, with a maximum, bids three of the other major to show a good diamond fit, or three notrump or four of responder's major to play; if responder, with game-forcing strength, bids over three diamonds, three hearts|three spades|three notrump shows clubs stopped|other major stopped|both unshown suits stopped); (vi) with a major-club two-suiter and game-going strength, responder transfer to the major and rebids three diamonds (opener bids three hearts|three spades|three notrump to show diamonds stopped|other major stopped|both unshown suits stopped, or four clubs, or four of responder's major).

Two-spade and two-notrump responses show a minor-suit hand with either under-invitational or game-going strength: (A) Two spades is weak with both minors or long diamonds, or game-forcing with long diamonds (opener shows his minor-suit preference--two notrump shows diamonds--and responder, if weak, passes three Clubs or bids three clubs over two notrump as a puppet to three diamonds; or, if strong, responder bids three hearts|three spades|three notrump to show shortness in clubs|hearts|spades. (B) Two notrump is weak with long clubs or strong with either long clubs or both minors. (Opener bids three clubs, and if a strong responder bids again, three hearts|three spades|three notrump shows a one-suiter with shortness in diamonds|hearts|spades, and three diamonds shows both minors, after which three diamonds by opener asks for shortness and responder bids three spades|three notrump with short hearts|short spades.)

Three-level responses: Three clubs (Stayman) is game-forcing when responder is looking to find a major-suit fit, but if responder's rebid shows at least nine cards in two suits, it is a slam try. Three diamonds and three hearts are major-suit transfers, as in BWS. Three spades is a puppet to three notrump, either to play there or next to make a minor suit-slam try; here, reach partnership can use its own methods. Indeed, it may be useful to observe that some partnerships will be able to use responses of three clubs through three notrump with the same general meanings as if the opening bid had been two notrump, or, at the least, to show exactly the same distributions they would show after a two-notrump opening.

Four-level responses are as in BWS.


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