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:
1NT promises balanced suit distribution without any singletons or voids, namely:
However, 1NT may also be opened on semi-balanced distribution:
- 2-2-3-6 (a long minor)
- 2-2-4-5 (excluding length in both majors)
In "Commonsense Bidding", Bill Root cites the following semi-balanced hand as an example of distributed strength suitable for 1NT:
With a 5-Card Major
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:
The disadvantage of opening 1NT is the danger of missing a major-suit fit. This can happen whenever partner holds 3- or 4-card support:
- 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.
Consequently, partnerships may have special agreements with a 5-card major (up for discussion):
- 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.
The 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.
|Pass||0-7 points, no 5-card major (use a Jacoby Transfer instead) and no 6-card minor (bid 2 to relay to your minor suit).|
|2||Stayman, showing 8+ points and at least one 4-card major. However, it typically excludes hands with 4-3-3-3 shape.|
|2||A Jacoby Transfer, showing 5+ hearts.|
|2||A Jacoby Transfer, showing 5+ spades.|
|2||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.|
|2NT||Invitational to 3NT. Shows 8-9 HCP and balanced shape. Denies a 4-card major unless holding 4-3-3-3 shape.|
|3||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.
|3||6+ diamonds, 7-8 HCP. Same comments as 3, above.|
| 3 ||6+ hearts with slam interest. However, this agreement rarely comes up. Many players would simply start with a Jacoby Transfer.|
| 3||6+ spades with slam interest. Same comments as 3, above.
|3NT||Natural, 10-13 HCP.|
| 4||Gerber, an artificial ace-asking bid.|
| 4NT||Quantitative, inviting 6NT.|
As a non-SAYC alternative, the Lebensohl
convention can be used to show a variety of hand types if the opponents double or overcall through 2.