Bridge Conventions, Videos, Downloads+

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Bridge Conventions

Kickback

Kickback is a keycard asking bid which tries to keep the bidding lower, especially useful when the trump suit is a minor suit.

In short instead of using 4NT as the RKB asking bid you use the suit above the agreed suit.

TrumpsKeycard AskStep1 (1/4)Step2 (0/3)Step3 (2)Step4 (2+Q)
4NT5♣555♠
4♠4NT5♣55
44♠4NT5♣5
444♠4NT5♣

Playing kickback you can play 3041 if you prefer which will swap steps 1 and 2 around.

What is the king ask

Assuming you are responding with specific kings…that is you respond 6♣ to show the king of clubs or it shows 2 non touching kings…

The basic rules are:-

  • The king asking suit is a cue-bid of 5 of the next higher strain after the trump suit…so 5NT would still be a king ask when spades are trumps.
  • The negative response would be to bid 6 of the trump suit
  • The three kings response would be to bid 6 of the asking suit
  • The cheapest specific king – simply cue bid the king you have or paradox kings and bypassing a bid then denies that king
  • 5NT response now shows the king of the asking suit

Asking for a 2nd King

  • The secondary ask – A secondary ask you bid the next strain up
  • The negative response showing no additional kings is simply to bid 6 of the trump suit
  • The positive response is to bid 6 of the asking suit to show that king or 6NT if the response pushes to the 7 level
  • The 3rd round control ask positive would then be to bid 7NT

Queen Ask

The queen ask is only employed after a 1st or 2nd step response to the ask.

  • To deny the trump queen simply bid 5 of the trump suit.
  • To show the trump queen bid 6 of the agreed trump suit with no kings
  • Bid 6 of the asking suit to show all three kings and the trump queen
  • Cue bid a king to show that king and the trump queen…again paradox kings apply

Defending in Bridge

Defending is one of the most important things in bridge…if not the most important…as you are doing it roughly 50% of the time.

Here we look at count and leading Ace for attitude and King for count…

Namyats

Namyats is a bidding convention to describe hands with long majors between 7 and 9 Playing tricks.

The opening bids are between 4♣ and 4♠.

Let’s look at the meaning of these bids:-

  • 4♣ – 8 or 9 Playing tricks with 7+Hearts
  • 4 – 8 or 9 Playing tricks with 7+Spades
  • 4 – 7 or 8 Playing tricks with 7+Hearts
  • 4♠ – 7 or 8 Playing tricks with 7+Spades

I really like this very simple system for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I never like opening a natural pre-empt of 4♣/ because i’m worried I might be missing 3NT…so for me the 4♣/ opening bids never existed as opening bids. Now I have a good use for them with the Namyats convention.

Secondly so many times my partner had 8 hearts/spades in their hand and opened 4/♠ and then we missed an easy slam because they were stronger than I expected them to be…or I bid slam and went off because the converse was true.

Example hands would be:-

  1. ♠ – AKJ107654 – Q7 – 6 ♣ – 95
  2. ♠ – 4 – AQ1098743 – A6 ♣ – 42
  3. ♠ – AQJ107654 – 87 – K2 ♣ – 6
  4. ♠ – AJ1097654 – Q7 – AK ♣ – 7
  5. ♠ – 54 – AKQJ876 – AQJ ♣ – 3
  6. ♠ – KQJ107654 – K7 – 6 ♣ – 42
  7. ♠ – A4 – KQJ1098763 – 6 ♣ – 3
  8. ♠ – KQJ107654 – 7 – KQ ♣ – 2

So with the weaker hand (7-8) playing tricks you would open 4or 4♠ and the stronger hand with (8-9) playing tricks you would open 4♣ or 4.

Responding

Most of the time you are just going to pass a 4 of a major opening bid or put partners 4 of a minor into the correct major.

If you bid 4 over 4♣ you are investigating slam in Hearts.
If you bid 4 over 4 you are investigating slam in Spades.

Partner can now use cue bids (probably void showing) or use RKCB to investigate if slam is on.

Competition

Over an artificial minor opening opponents can double which would be lead directing…or possibly the start of a way of showing a two suited hand.

Over a double system can be kept on…so a re-double would imply interest in slam and possible a cue bid in that suit or the higher ranking suit and a bid of the next suit up would imply slam interest still and could show no minor ace….

For example

NorthEastSouthMeaning
4♣DoublePassMaybe ace of spades or two aces?
RedoubleControl in Clubs…heart interest
4Control in Diamonds…heart interest
4No Slam Interest
4♠Natural or ace of spades? Two aces? a void?
4NTRKCB for Hearts

As you can tell by this….I’m making this up as I go! Again the most important aspect of bridge is that you and your partner should have a comprehensive understanding of what the bids mean after you’ve opened 4♣.

This is the great thing about bridge…if you love the game these are the precise topics that people will talk for hours about 🙂

Come back here when me and my partner have decided what we are playing.

Lebensohl

In short Lebensohl is the use of the 2NT bid as an artificial bid to describe various hands after partner has opened 1NT (either weak or strong) or when partner has doubled a weak two. We will also look at other situations where you can use it as well.

Let’s look at how Lebensohl works after partner has opened a weak NT (12-14 points balanced).

So partner opens 1NT and RHO bids a suit naturally and now it’s your turn to bid!

So the 1NT bidder needs to know what your bids are….are they a:-

  • forcing response
  • non-forcing response
  • natural response
  • artificial response
  • invitational response
  • game-showing response

It is exactly these questions, which needed to be answered in order to structure a proper defense method for the No Trump bidder and partner. Without any guidelines the partnership would be lost as to how to continue. You’d be guessing and that is something we try and avoid in bridge if at all possible.

Responses to Lebensohl

Following is an outline of the responses available to the responder after a natural overcall in a suit.

NorthEastSouthMeaning
1NT2♣2//♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT22/♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT22♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT2♠XValues
1NT2♣3Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣3Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣3♠Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣2NTPuppet to 3♣

The 2NT forces opener to bid 3♣. The 2NT is a puppet bid forcing the 1NT opener to bid 3♣. We have the 1NT opener on strings…they are the puppet.

The rebids by the responder after 3 Clubs by his partner:

  1. Pass with a weak hand and long Clubs.
  2. Any bid suit below the rank of the overcall is a sign-off.
  3. Any bid suit above the rank of the overcall is invitational.

Any immediate cuebid of the suit of the opponent is Staymanic (asking opener to bid 4 card majors) and promises a good 12 high card point count.

Any immediate cuebid promises a 4-card Major suit, but it is important to remember that the cuebid also denies having a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent. This cuebid by the responder is forcing to game unless the partnership cannot find a Major fit.

NorthEastSouthMeaning
1NT2♣3♣Stayman (no club stop)
23Stayman (no diamond stop)
23Stayman (no heart stop)
2♠3♠Stayman (no spade stop)

The options for the No Trump bidder, after a cuebid by his partner, are as follows:

  1. to bid a 4-card Major, if he has a 4-card Major.
  2. to bid 3 No Trump with a stopper in the suit of the opponent.
  3. to seek a better contract, if neither condition is fulfilled.
    3.1. With a minimum No Trump, bid 4 Clubs or 4 Diamonds.
    3.2. If the 4-card Major suit of the responder is known, then the No Trump bidder can consider playing in a 4-3 Major fit.
    3.3. Holding a maximum No Trump and no wasted strength in the suit bid by the opponent, a jump to five of long Minor suit is advisable.
    3.4. Cuebidding the suit of the opponent at the four level is requesting the partner to choose his better Minor suit at the five level.  
    3 No Trump Response

1NT – 2X – 3NT

Any 3 No Trump response after any intervening overcall promises sufficient values and no 4-card Major suit, but it also denies having a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent. The No Trump bidder has then several options:

  • Pass with a stopper in the suit of the opponent.
  • Bids a 5-card Major suit, if he has one.
  • Explores for a better contract, generally in the Minor suits.

2NT Response

If the responder bids 2 No Trump after the immediate overcall, forcing his partner to rebid 3 Clubs, and then cuebids the suit of the opponent, then this cuebid is a Stayman bid, asking for a 4-card Major suit. The difference in this bidding sequence is the fact that the responder is showing a stopper in the suit of the opponent.

  1. Using the Lebensohl convention, it is apparent that the partnership only loses the natural 2 No Trump bid.
  2. The advantages are that each response can be recognized and determined as to whether they are:
    2.1. Forcing.
    2.2. Invitational.
    2.3. Non-forcing.
    2.4. Game-forcing. 
Lebensohl After A Takeout Double of a Weak Two Bid

After the opponents have opened the auction with a Weak Two bid and your partner doubles, defensive guidelines are necessary to inform your partner whether or not you, who are forced to bid, have a weak holding, a moderate holding, or a strong holding. The Lebensohl convention can assist greatly with this dilemma. The following guidelines should clarify.

  1. The 2 No Trump response by the responder forces the partner to rebid 3 Clubs. This gives the responder the opportunity to sign off in a long suit with a weak holding, and the partner must pass.
  2. A non-jump suit bid by the responder at the three level is constructive and informs the partner that his holding contains useful values and/or suit length and/or distribution.

This situation arose after such bidding sequences and holdings were encountered, such as the following:

NorthEastSouthWest
2♠DoublePass?

Holding 1

♠ – 754 – 86 – 109743 ♣ – 985

S 754 S 865
H 86 H K7
D 109764 D KQJ86
C 985 C 1082

Holding 2

♠ – 754 – K7 – KQJ86 ♣ – 985

Now using Lebensohl we have a method to define a weak hand and a hand that might be interested in game. Before Lebensohl it would be your best guess as whether the doubler should continue or not.

Other Lebensohl Situations

In a competitive situation…

NorthEastSouthWest
1♠Double2♠? (Lebensohl)

West can now use 2NT to try and sign off in a 3 level suit contract or bid a 3 level suit as invitational. Bid 2NT followed by 3♠ to show a stopper and 4 hearts or just bid 3♠ directly to show 4 hearts with no stopper.

After a weak jump overcall…

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣2♠ (weak)? (Lebensohl)

South can now use 2NT to try and sign off in a 3 level suit contract or bid a 3 level suit as invitational. Bid 2NT followed by 3♠ to show a stopper and 4 hearts or just bid 3♠ directly to show 4 hearts with no stopper.

After a strong reverse…

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass1Pass
2♠Pass2NT*Pass
3♣PassPassPass

South can now use 2NT to try and sign off in 3 clubs when you’ve responded with a 5 count for example and can now use a simple 3♣ bid for example to explore slam without taking up valuable bidding space.

Two Different ways of playing Lebensohl

Going through 2NT with a stopper is known as FASS (Fast Arrival Shows Stopper).

Alternatively you can play it as going through 2NT denies a stopper or FADS (Fast Arrival Denies Stop).

My preference is for FADS!

The important thing is you agree what you are playing with your partner.

CRO

This is a bridge acronym standing for:

  • Colour
  • Rank
  • Other

It’s similar to the Unusual NT and the Michael’s cue bid all wrapped in one. I think some people (me) have also called it Modified Ghestem as well.

It’s used to specify 55 distributions when the opponents have opened at the 1 level…the difference is you can specify exactly what suits the 55 are in where you might be left guessing using the Michael’s cue bid.

Same Colour (C)

So the Cue-bid (C) show at least 55 in two suits of the same colour…

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2♣Shows 55 in the red suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
1♠2♠Shows 55 in the red suits

Same Rank (R)

This time the 2NT bid shows two suits of the same rank. Soif they bid a minor…you have at least 55 in the majors and if they bid the majors then you have the minors again at least 55.

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the minors
1♠2NTShows 55 in the minors

3♣ – The Other bid (O)

This one usually takes a bit more thinking about to work out but it’s easy when you get used to it!

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣3♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
13♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts
13♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
1♠3♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts

So the advantage of using CRO over say the Michael’s Cue Bid is partner knows what the other minor is:-

So if the bidding for example goes:-

Using a Michael’s Cue Bid

NorthEastSouthWest
1♠3♠4♠?

Suppose east has made a michael’s cue bid showing hearts and an unspecified minor. West might have a good sacrifice in Clubs but not have a sacrifice in hearts or diamonds…so he’s forced to pass as otherwise he’d be guessing to bid at the 5 level which could be a worse score than them making 4 spades.

This time using CRO

NorthEastSouthWest
1♠3♣4♠5♣
PassPassDoublePass
PassPass

This time West is able to bid clubs and find a good sacrifice…North south collect 300 for the doubled club contract but they could have made 4 spades vulnerable for 620!

The disadvantages of CRO are:

  • You tell the opposition what the other minor is
  • It’s slightly more stuff to remember
  • You lose the 3♣ bid as a natural bid
  • The opposition can use the minor as a cue bid as well

It sounds like i’m putting more negatives than positives but personally I think it’s worth it as I’ve found loads of sacrifices in the minors using this system and for me that outweighs some potential gains.

Typical hands To use CRO

So these hands you could use CRO to describe your hand

  • ♠ 4 KQ1076 AJ1073 ♣ 72
  • ♠ AJ987 KJ1086 J7 ♣ 7

So I tend to visualise a hand with about 10 points

Hands NOT to use CRO

You wouldn’t do it with these hands:

  • ♠ AQ 107654 J10873 ♣ K
  • ♠ AKQ KJ1086 65432 ♣ Void

The first hand you don’t have 10 points in the two suits…but you have some defensive values. The second hand again has a lot of your points in the other major.

Landik

Most people these days play a short club with a strong no trump and five card majors, therefore opening 1 club is quite often a weak no trump holding.

The Landik 2♣ bid describes a 5-4 or 5-5 holding in the majors up to about 9 points after the bidding has gone… 1♣ from partner and a strong 1NT overcall from the opposition. Now you bid 2♣ hoping to find a fit in the majors.

Reverse Flannery

The problem: You’ve been dealt a pretty nice hand with five spades and four hearts. ♠KQ987 – KQ87 –75 – ♣62.

Your partner opens the bidding with one diamond and you dutifully bid your longer major (spades). Your partner rebids two clubs. What do you do? Your “obvious” options are:

  • (a) correct to 2;
  • (b) bid 2;
  • (c) bid 2♠;
  • (d) bid 2NT.

Each has various insufficiencies.

  • (a) is a sign-off;
  • (b) would be fourth-suit forcing
  • (c) could be correct but at the table partner might glumly apologise before placing down a 0-4-5-4 distribution;
  • (d) this bid may be often correct, but will miss the making major-fit part scores at least some of the time.

As you can see, without Reverse Flannery, partner can systematically prevent you from finding a major fit.

In this article, I shall briefly outline the responses to 1 of a minor called Reverse Flannery (by responder); explain how the continuations of the auction progress from there; and, briefly discussed the influence that this might have on other systems.

Three Forms of Reverse Flannery

Take note! In each example I treat it as though the bid can only be 5 Spades and 4 Hearts, but the distributions allowed vary by partnership agreement.

One-Way Reverse Flannery
WestEastExplanation
1 ♣ / 25 Spades, 4 Hearts
Invitational hand (10-12pts)

This simplest structure is best for people who want to keep 2 Spades open for weak jump shifts or are scared of jumping to the two level with weak major oriented hands!

If eager to maintain the weak jump shift into hearts also, then one can replace the 2 bid by 2. This is easily forgotten as at the table 1 – 2 can easily be mistaken for diamond support! And, notwithstanding that, can raise issues for how one shows natural diamond support!

Two-Way Reverse Flannery
WestEastExplanation
1 ♣ / 25S and 4H and “weak” (between 5-9pts)
 2♠5S and 4H and “invitational” (between 10-12pts)

This version of Reverse Flannery is most common.

There are two key differences that might alter the shape that one is willing to make these bids on: (a) a response of 2 Hearts will more often be passed and therefore weak 5-5 hands in the majors will often be simpler bid directly (especially over 2 where the auction 1-1♠-2-? leaves little room for showing a weak second major); (b) a response to 2♠ will more often be continued from, this leaves open the ability for (6 spades and 4 hearts) or (6 spades and 5 hearts) shaped hands to be bid and shown through enquiry bids.

This inclusion as described is common but will depend on the continuations chosen and alternative auctions.

N.B. adding 5-5 in the majors to the “stronger” bid has a downside that “correcting” to the better fit increases the level of the auction. This may or may not be worth it in all the circumstances, but has certainly caught on amongst some world-class players.

Three-Way Reverse Flannery
WestEastExplanation
1♣2Shows 5-5 Majors weak or 5-4 majors (either way), weak.
 2Shows 5+S and 4+H and invitational (not 6-4)
 2♠Shows 6+S and 4H and invitational
12/♠As two-way Flannery

Once you’re feeling confident with reverse flannery and its continuations, this is a fine way to play it. Of course, once you are this confident, then you might have your own ideas about how the system can be developed!

Example Hands:

Let us consider some example hands and compare how they might be bid under Reverse Flannery as a response to 1♣:

a)b)c)
♠ K10752
Q953
108
♣ 86
♠ 87643
A5432
65
♣ 2
♠ 86543
KQ984
A4
♣ 7
d)e)f)
♠ AJ754
K954
6
♣ Q72
♠ J10543
Q987643
5
♣ A
♠ AK864
A9653
105
♣ 4

Hand a is straight forward. If playing one-way you pass or bid. With two-way you bid 2. If playing three-way you bid 2 opposite 1♣ or rebid 2 opposite 1 (as opposite 1 one plays two-way).

Hand b is similar to hand 1. In this instance, however, you can only bid 2 if the agreement allows for 5-5 weak hands. If you aren’t playing Reverse Flannery, you have to choose between bidding and passing.

Hand c is of invitational strength but 5-5. As such, if playing either one-way or two-way reverse flannery you’ll have to bid it naturally. If you’re playing three-way the bid of 2 will more than suffice.

Hand d is of invitational strength. A bid of 2 for one-way and three-way, and a bid of 2♠ for two-way will do the trick.

Hand e is weak and distributional. Playing one-way flannery you pick which major to show first. Otherwise, it’s up to partnership agreement how to treat these distributional hands. Personally, I think Reverse Flannery is sufficient. Partner is likely to pass with equal length and the dire high-cards in the majors don’t tempt me to bid more constructively.

Hand f is very good. With such a nice hand you’ll show your spades, when you show your hearts your partner will know that you can’t be 5/4!

Continuations

Note that because of the number of variations of the system that there is no standard way to define continuations. Let us consider the potential priorities (not ordered):

  • Showing the strength of the bid. “Good/Bad”
  • Showing the length of the majors.
  • Showing shortages.
  • Showing support for partner’s minor.
  • Showing suitability for No Trumps.

These depend, therefore, on both the kinds of hands partner opens 1♣ and 1, the strength of an opening 1NT and the kind of scoring. After all, finding 5 is a lower priority at matchpoints than teams.

Nevertheless, I will outline a potential rebid system:

WestEastWestComments
1m2X2MSign-off. No further interest in bidding.
  2N*Artificial Inquiry bid (see below)
  3mSign-off.
  3omFourth-suit forcing. Seeking stops for NT.
  3MInvite based on fit.
  3NNatural.
  4mGame forcing single-suiter.
  4omSome form of splinter or two-suited hand, per partnership agreement.
  4MSign-off
  4NTTwo-suited Roman Key Card (Six ace RKCB)

The above is simple in that it acts to clearly define the auction and avoids using opener’s minor as invitational. However, if willing to use 3♣ as an artificial enquiry, one can gain 2NT as a way to progress the auction in more ways.

Kokish (whose three-way system is outlined above) does this by using 2NT as a bid that says “bid 3♣ if you would pass 3♣ otherwise bid as you would opposite a natural 3♣”. Such a system allows opener to show a two-suited minor hand when one has opened 1D. Any further rebids then act as slam-tries.

Below I assume that 5=5 and 6=5 are possible.

WestEastWest Comments
1m2X2N* Artificial Enquiry
   3om5=4=2=2 minimum
   3pm55 majors with three card support for partner’s minor
   3/♠54 majors. 3 shows club shortage, 3♠ shows diamond shortage. (i.e. lower suit shows lower shortage, singleton or void)
   3NT5=4=2=2 maximum
   4♣/55 or 65 either way in majors, splinter.
   45=6=1=1 or 6=5=1=1
   4♠? perhaps best as strong 4 card support for partner with 5=4=(0-4)

We can see how this tries to balance between our priorities. With only 9 cards in the majors we attempt to keep bidding at the three level and only venture as high as 3NT. The only bid that does not is the delayed raise for partner’s suit where partner may now have three places to consider playing in (a major, a minor and no trumps).

At the 4 level we assume that partner is enquiring for the purposes of finding a major game or slam. As such, the priority is showing shortages to aid partner in bidding further.

Note that in many places the minimum/maximum difference is treated as not existing. Even though the difference between the bottom and top of a weak bid can be as much as a King! If playing Reverse Flannery without the possibility of 5=5s and 6=5s then one can use this bidding space far more precisely.

Final Thoughts – Inferences!

Often, the auctions where the effect of Reverse Flannery by Responder are truly felt are those where the auction has not used it!

To illustrate consider the auctions:

(1)

WestNorthEastSouth
1♣Pass1♠Pass
2♣Pass2 

(2)

WestNorthEastSouth
1♣Pass1♠2
PassPass2 

(3)

WestNorthEastSouth
1♣Pass1♠Pass
2Pass3 

Supposing they play two-way Reverse Flannery we have that East cannot have:

  1. 5 Spades and 4 Hearts and less than a Game Forcing Hand
  2. 5-5 in the majors and a weak hand.
  3. 6 Spades and 4 Hearts and an invitational hand.

As such the ranges for these bids (if playing naturally) is distinct from the normal ranges. What these bids mean is therefore subject to partnership agreement and discussions of general principles.

The first auction is, I think, the simplest. Since partner can, at worst, have a 5-5 with invitational values, this auction is almost surely forcing to game. (I do not say absolutely forcing, as partnership agreement may prefer [e.g.] 1♣-1♠; 2♣-2; 2NT-3 to show this exact form of hand and be able to be passed).

The second auction is, I think, similar in form. The implication of the 1 Spades opener suggests a lack of Hearts. As such, this 2 bid should be more constructive than merely competitive, despite the balancing position.

The final auction is somewhat nebulous. If playing a form of Lebensohl (so a 2NT rebid by East would show weaker hands) this 3 is not only game forcing but incredibly slam encouraging! If not, however, it could be used to show the “weak” 6 Spades and 4 Hearts rebid and the stronger forms of support can be bid through other mechanisms.

The negative inferences that come with Reverse Flannery are often useful throughout an entire auction and (if the opponents end up declaring) in defence. As such, the system makes a fabulous addition to many players repertoires.

Specific Ace Ask

Very simply you can open 4NT which asks partner if they hold an ace.

ResponseMeaning
5♣No aces
5The ace of Diamonds
5The ace of Hearts
5♠The ace of spades
5NT2 aces
6♣The ace of clubs
6Three aces!?

Alternatively you can play a step response:-

ResponseMeaning
5♣No aces
5The ace of Clubs
5The ace of Diamonds
5♠The ace of Hearts
5NTThe ace of spades
6♣Two aces
6Three Aces!?

Again the most important thing is make sure you agree what you are playing with partner…as the specific ace convention doesn’t arise very often I would suggest you play the first alternative described here.

Please make sure you can handle any response…if you hold:-

Now the opposition are bound to lead a red suit and take you one off in 6♠.

Whereas if you have this you can cater for any response:-

Exit Transfers

Exit transfers in bridge are a way of escaping from a poor 1NT doubled contract. This convention can be played with a weak or a strong no trump.

You can play this after 1NT – Double – ? and also after 1x – 1NT – Double – ?

Let’s look at the responses after the 1NT has been doubled…

BidMeaning
PassAsks partner to Redouble
RDAsks partner to bid clubs
2♣4 Card Stayman
2Asks partner to bid hearts
2Asks partner to bid spades

Apart from pass…the responses are straightforward.

So after Redouble (RD) partner bids 2♣…if the redoubler now bids diamonds they are now showing a 5+ diamond suit.

Alternatively you can drop the Stayman element of this system and use 2C as a transfer to diamonds. It’s your partnerships choice!

What about 1NT – X – P – P – RD

So the whole purpose of this is we can get partner to RD if we think 1NT is making or if we bid on we are now denying holding a 5 card suit and are now trying to find a 4-4 fit if possible.

Let’s look at the responses:

BidMeaning
PassHappy to play in 1NT doubled and RD
2♣I have a 4 card club suit
2I have a 4 card diamond suit
2I have a 4 card heart suit and don’t have 4 spades

The original 1NT opener or overcaller can now pass or bid their 4/5 card suit up the line. Bidding continues like this until you find a 4-4 suit or you have to settle in a 4-3 fit. If you bid correctly you will always at least find a 4-3 fit and maybe, if opener has a 5 card suit you might even get lucky and find a 5-4 fit.

If you play a weak NT then this convention is really useful to learn and master.

I’ve also done an exit transfers video.

Muppet Stayman

This bid is used after an opening bid of 2NT showing 20-22 points where it can contain a 5 card major. It’s used to find a 5-3 or 4-4 fit in the majors and also to get the strong hand to play out the contract.

After reading these notes…take a look at the muppet stayman video to further reinforce your understanding of the subject (19 hands included).

3♣ is muppet Stayman with the following responses.

BidMeaning
3I have at least one 4 card major
3I don’t have a 4 or 5 card major
3♠I have a 5 card spade suit
3NTI have a 5 card heart suit

So this is the interesting thing about Muppet Stayman compared to Puppet Stayman – the 3 and 3NT bid are switched around.

Continuation after 3

The responses are similar to puppet stayman.

BidMeaning
3Asks how many spades
3♠I have a 4 card heart suit
3NTTo play
4♣Both majors with slam interest
4Both majors no slam interest
4Slam interest in clubs
4♠Slam interest in diamonds

The 3 is an ask just in case partner (the hand opposite the 2NT opener) had started with 5 spades and 3 hearts. Rather than transfer to spades and give up on finding a 5-3 heart you will go through muppet stayman.

BidMeaning
3♠I have a 3 card spade suit (4 hearts and 3 spades)
3NTI have a 2 card spade suit (4 hearts and 2 spades)
4♣I have 4 spades and potential slam interest
4♠4 spades no slam interest

After 4♣, suit bids are cue bids apart from 4 which is a relay to 4♠ and 4NT is RKCB…5 and 6 would be further relays to spades if need be.

Continuation after 3 (showing no 4/5 card major)

BidMeaning
3♠Relay to 3NT
3NTShows a 5 card spade suit (very easy to forget!)
4♣5-5 Both majors slam interest
45-5 Both majors no slam interest
4Slam interest in clubs (6+ card suit)
4♠Slam interest in diamonds (6+ card suit)

Continuations after 4♣ (5/5 Majors slam interest)

So after 2NT – 3♣ – 3 – 4♣ or 2NT – 3♣ – 3 – 4♣

BidMeaning
4RKCB in hearts
4To play – bottom end of your hand
4♠To play – bottom end of your hand
4NTRKCB in spades

Continuations after opener bids 3NT (showing 5 hearts)

BidMeaning
PassTo Play
4♣Undisclosed minor (or diamonds?)
4Puppet to 4 then 4NT is RKCB
4? Could be used as a slam try in clubs
4♠Cue Bid
4NTQuantitative no hearts

Because 4 is a puppet you cannot bid that to show diamonds.

Continuations after opener bid 3♠ (has a 5 card spade suit)

BidMeaning
3NTTo play
4♣Constructive natural (could show diamonds)
4Constructive natural (could show clubs)
4Slam try in spades
4♠To Play
4NTQuantitative

After a 3NT relay response

So after 2NT – 3♣ – 3 – 3♠ – 3NT – ?

BidMeaning
4♣Natural Slam try in Diamonds (5 card suit)
4Natural Slam try in Clubs (5 card suit)

By playing it this way opener can play a slam in diamonds which might be more advantageous.

Opener bids 4NT to sign off or bids the next suit up to agree a slam in the agreed minor.

It’s really critical you discuss this as a lot of people play this the wrong way and as soon as they here 4NT they start answering RKCB…you shouldn’t play it this way in the minors…use a suit bid to agree a minor slam interest.

Next suit up can then be RKCB (4130) or you can cue bid. Again make sure you agree.

After 4 to show slam interest in clubs

So after 2NT – 3♣ – 3 – 4

BidMeaning
4♠RKCB agreeing clubs (4130)
4NTTo play

After 4♠ to show slam interest in diamonds

So after 2NT – 3♣ – 3 – 4♠

BidMeaning
4NTTo play
5♣RKCB in diamonds (3041)

Muppet Transfers

So if you have 5 spades and 4 hearts you can bid 3♣ where you can find a major fit – don’t use transfers with this holding like you normally would.

But! When you hold 5 hearts and 4 spades transfer to hearts first and then bid 3NT to show this hand with no interest in slam.

If you find muppet stayman too difficult (understandable) for you…or you think you might forget it then take a look at puppet stayman instead.

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