The modern, strong 1NT opening shows a balanced hand with 15-17 HCP. In the old days, 1NT showed 16-18 HCP, which has fallen out of favor due to its lower frequency. Examples of hands suitable for a 1NT opening:
Shape1NT promises balanced suit distribution without any singletons or voids, namely:
- 2-3-3-6 (a long minor)
- 2-2-4-5 (excluding length in both majors)
With a 5-Card MajorThe SAYC bidding system states that 1NT "can be made with a five-card major". This is up to partnership agreement. The advantages of opening 1NT with a 5-card major:
- It's slightly more preemptive. It's riskier for the opponents to overcall 2 over 1NT than to overcall
- It's more descriptive. Your point range and balanced shape are immediately shown, whereas a
1/opening bid may be made on all kinds of hand patterns and strengths.
- She passes 1NT with a weak hand.
- She passes a 2-level overcall. Now you must decide whether to introduce your major at the 2-level.
- She makes a Jacoby Transfer when you only have doubleton support.
- Opening 1NT with 3 cards in the other major, in case partner makes a transfer bid.
- Opening 1NT with evenly distributed high-card strength.
- Opening 1NT with 5 hearts. With 5 spades, consider opening 1.
ResponsesThe following responses are consistent with the SAYC bidding system, which is comparable to any generic 5-card major system. However, variations always apply and these responses should not be considered universal for all bidding systems.
0-7 points, no 5-card major (use a Jacoby Transfer instead) and no 6-card minor (bid
2to relay to your minor suit).
- The 2 Response Stayman, showing 8+ points and at least one 4-card major. However, it typically excludes hands with 4-3-3-3 shape.
- The 2 Response A Jacoby Transfer, showing 5+ hearts.
- The 2 Response A Jacoby Transfer, showing 5+ spades.
- The 2 Response
Artificial, showing a weak 6+ card minor suit. Opener is required to bid
3.Responder will pass or correct to 3.Minor-Suit Stayman is a popular non-SAYC alternative to this approach.
- The 2NT Response Invitational to 3NT. Shows 8-9 HCP and balanced shape. Denies a 4-card major unless holding 4-3-3-3 shape.
- The 3 Response 6+ clubs, 7-8 HCP. Invitational to 3NT. As an alternative approach, it may simply be a weak sign-off bid. This method is espoused by expert Richard Pavlicek, among others.
- The 3 Response 6+ diamonds, 7-8 HCP. Same comments as 3, above.
- The 3 Response 6+ hearts with slam interest. However, this agreement rarely comes up. Many players would simply start with a Jacoby Transfer.
- The 3 Response 6+ spades with slam interest. Same comments as 3, above.
- The 3NT Response Natural, 10-13 HCP.
- The 4 Response Gerber, an artificial ace-asking bid.
- The 4NT Response Quantitative, inviting 6NT.
- If the opponents double 1NT, then Stayman and Jacoby Transfers are still "on".
- If the opponents overcall 1NT, then Jacoby Transfers are "off". However, Stayman may still be possible via a cuebid.
- If the opponents double a 2/ Jacoby Transfer, then opener is allowed to pass with only 2-card support.