The Kamikaze 1NT (aka "mini" no-trump) is a 1NT opening bid that shows a balanced hand with 10-12 HCP. Since it is such a weak opening bid, subject to frequent penalty doubles by the opponents, an escape system such as Meckwell Escapes or Touching Escapes is a necessary adjunct. In addition, it was originally intended to be played only in first or second position. The reason is because the odds of having a good hand increase after the first two or three players pass to you. Also, there is no preemptive value in opening a 10-12 1NT in fourth seat.

Example of Kamikaze 1NT openings:


Other Considerations

If integrating the Kamikaze notrump into your system, it is also important to consider its effect on natural sequences such as

1 : 1

1NT here normally shows around 12-14 HCP, while 2NT would show around 18-19 HCP; the 15-17 HCP between the two rebids must be resolved in one way or another.

As expert Danny Kleinman notes in his book "The Notrump Zone":

Do the benefits of the Kamikaze notrump outweigh the costs? Here is what I believe. No, not against sound opponents, even if the Kamikaze notrump sometimes steals the pot; this is because of the loss of accuracy on the good hands that the Kamikaze notrumpers can't open some other kind of notrump is too great. Yes, against opponents who think that opener's weakness makes their own hands stronger, or who are obsessed with penalizing the Kamikaze notrumpers. Alas, such opponents may be the majority these days....

The main disadvantage of the Kamikaze notrump - the obvious cost - is the burden it puts on other openings and rebids. Remove from your toolkit one of the ways of describing a very common class of opening-strength hands, and many of your other tools work less efficiently.

For a more favorable philosophy toward a mini notrump, read 1NT: The Ultimate Preempt by Tony Melucci about the merits of a 10-13 1NT.


The Kamikaze 1NT was invented by American player John Kierein.

See also

  • Weak 1NT
    A general overview of the weak no-trump. Includes a list of escape systems.

  • 1NT: The Ultimate Preempt
    A comprehensive article by Tony Melucci about playing a 10-13 1NT.