After a Major-Suit Opening

by Denis Lesage

One of a Major — One Notrump

The wide range of opener's new-suit rebid after one of a major — one notrump causes problems: responder may pass and miss game or invite and thereby overreach. Methods such as Gazzilli try to address this problem in the context of a forcing one-notrump response, which leads to complexity; also, in that context, a responder with 1-4-4-4 or 1-4-3-5 and a minimum can get into trouble facing opener's 5-3-3-2 minimum. To handle the problem, I suggest these four changes:

(1) Make the one-notrump response semiforcing, as in BWS, which allows opener to pass with a 5-3-3-2 and a 12- or 13-count.
(2) Open one notrump with all 5-3-3-2 hands of 14-16 HCP and with all 17-HCP hands that do not include a five-card suit or that are not too rich in tens and nines.
(3) As in BWS, after a two-over-one response and opener's rebid no higher than two of his original suit, use responder's same-suit rebid as invitational with six-plus cards and 10-11 points.
(4) (optional) Use a three-club response to show a three-plus-trump invitational raise (a three-diamond rebid asks about trump length, which can be the deciding factor when opener has a minimum with a singleton).

A positive effect of (1) and (2) is that opener's two-club and two-diamond rebids show at least four cards in the suit bid (except when opener has four=five in the majors and rebids two of a minor with 14-16 points).

After One Spade — One Notrump

   Two clubs: any hand with four-plus clubs, or 17-plus HCP with two-plus clubs.
   Two diamonds: 12-16 HCP with four diamonds, or 12-15 HCP with five-plus diamonds.
   Two hearts: as two diamonds, with hearts.
   Two spades: six-plus cards; minimum.
   Two notrump: 19-20 HCP; balanced. As opener is 5332, responder can discover opener's shape with a three-club ask [opener bids three diamonds (5=3=3=2), three hearts (5=3=2=3), or three spades (5=2=3=3). This allows opening one of a major instead of two notrump when the hand is not too strong in playing tricks, which works fine when responder has either a bust or a hand too weak to respond to two notrump but with a fit for the major and ruffing values.
   Three clubs: artificial game-force; five spades and either exactly four hearts or five clubs [three diamonds asks, and opener bids three hearts with five-four majors, three spades with six-four majors, or three notrump with five-five in the blacks].
   Three diamonds: standard.
   Three hearts: five-five-plus in the majors; game-force.
   Three spades: standard.
   Three notrump: a hand too strong for a three-spade rebid.

   After opener's two-club rebid, responder rebids:
   Two diamonds: any hand with 6-9 HCP that does not qualify for two of a major.
   Two hearts: five-plus hearts; 6-9 HCP.
   Two spades: doubleton spade; 6-9 HCP.
   Two notrump: 10-12 HCP.
   Three clubs: 10-12 HCP; five-plus clubs.
   Three spades: three-trump invitational raise.

   After one spade — one notrump — two clubs — two diamonds, opener bids:
   Two hearts: 5=3=1=4 with 12-16 HCP or 5=3=0=5 with 12-13 HCP [then, responder's two notrump is invitational, three of a minor is to play].
   Two spades: 5=1=3=4 or 5=2=2=4 with 12-16 HCP, or five-five in the blacks with 12-14 HCP [then, responder's two notrump is invitational, three of a minor is to play].
   Two notrump: 17-18 HCP; balanced.
   Three clubs: five-five in the blacks; 15-16 HCP.
   Three diamonds: 17-18 HCP with five spades and four diamonds, or 16-18 HCP with five spades and five diamonds; nonforcing.
   Three hearts: as three diamonds, but with hearts.
   Three spades: as three diamonds, but with clubs.
   Three notrump: game-force with exactly four clubs.

   After one spade — one notrump — two clubs — two hearts: opener's two spades shows heart shortness, and responder then places the contract; opener's three hearts is a natural raise (with 16-18 HCP, opener bids four hearts). After one spade — one notrump — two clubs — two notrump: opener's three spades shows either a game-force with four clubs or a medium-strength hand with four or five clubs; opener's three notrump is to play.

After One Heart — One Notrump

   Generally speaking, the same framework applies after one heart as after one spade, but with the following modifications:
   (1) With five hearts and four spades, with 17-plus HCP opener bids two spades; with 12-13 HCP he passes (except with 5-4-4-0); with 14-16 HCP, he rebids two clubs with 4=5=1=3, 4=5=2=2 or 4=5=0=4 or two diamonds with 4=5=3=1 (so two of a minor may be based on fewer than four cards).
   After opener's two clubs and a responder's two-diamond relay, opener bids two hearts with longer spades than diamonds, or two spades with at least as many diamonds as spades. Then, all of responder's bids are nonforcing. After one heart — one notrump — two clubs — two diamonds — two hearts, responder bids two spades with three (opener then passes with four spades, bids two notrump with 3=5=1=4, or bids three clubs with 3=5=0=5); if responder lacks three spades, he may bid three of a minor to play or two notrump as pick-a-minor. (After one heart — one notrump — two clubs — two diamonds — two spades, opener must have at least six minor-suit cards, and responder has at least nine, so a playable fit is guaranteed.)
   With six-plus hearts and spades, opener rebids two hearts or three hearts.
   (2) Opener's three clubs is a game-force with four-plus clubs.
   (3) After one heart — one notrump — two clubs, two hearts shows 6-9 HCP with two hearts, while two spades shows 10-12 HCP with five clubs (allowing opener to bid two notrump with fewer than four clubs), and three clubs indicates six-plus clubs and 10-12 HCP.

Responder's Ranges

   Responder's ranges are in theory either 6-9 HCP and 10-12 HCP; in real life, the numbers are more like 6-9.5 and 9.5-12; nowadays, one needs a quite good 12 HCP to force to game.

In Competition

   (1) If the major-suit opening is overcalled, standard methods apply. If the opening is doubled, it is feasible to use the same approach, ignoring the double (except when redoubling to aim at a penalty).
   (2) If a one-notrump response is doubled, opener ignores the double if his normal rebid would have been two diamonds or higher. Two clubs shows a five-five minimum; with any other minimum, opener passes. Opener redoubles with 16-18 HCP; if permitted, responder, with 6-8 HCP, may then show a six-plus-card suit at the two level or offer a preference to opener's major. If responder passes, opener shows his hand-type. Responder may also double for penalty, cue-bid (no stopper in the opponents' suit), or bid a suit at the three level, all game-forces.
   (3) After a two-club overcall of one notrump, all of opener's bids remain the same (with two of a red suit likely five-five); opener's double shows an intermediate-strength hand, and responder, if unable to force to game, bids two of opener's major with a doubleton, two hearts after a one spade opening with five-plus, otherwise two diamonds. With enough for game, responder bids anything natural above two of opener's major. If the overcalls is two diamonds or higher, opener's cue-bid is a game-force, but all other bids are natural (and, if at the three level, show extra values).

Gains and Losses

   The gains to this approach include: opener's being able to show highly-invitational values immediately, opener's being able to show narrow strength ranges with nonminimum hands while leaving room for strain investigation, opener's three notrump rebid can be used for a very strong one-suiter (saving space), opener's two of a minor rebids usually showing genuine length, opener's being able to distinguish among 6=4, 5=5 and 5=4 in the majors.
   Some features seem neither to gain nor to lose, but they do avoid some of the serious problems for approaches such as Gazzilli.
   Losses include not having two-over-ones as game-forces, not being able to land in two of a minor, and making it awkward to use constructive major-suit raises.


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