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Tag: majors


Namyats (Stayman backwards) 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 – AK1098743 – A6 ♣ – 42
  3. ♠ – AQJ107654 – 87 – K2 ♣ – 6
  4. ♠ – AJ1097654 – Q7 – AK ♣ – 7
  5. ♠ – 54 – AKQJ876 – AQJ ♣ – 3
  6. ♠ – KQJ107654 – K7 – 6 ♣ – 42
  7. ♠ – A4 – KQJ109876 – 6 ♣ – 32
  8. ♠ – KQJ107654 – 72 – KQ ♣ – 2

So with the weaker hand (7-8) playing tricks you would open 4or 4♠ (hands 1,3,6,7,8) and the stronger hand with (8-9) playing tricks you would open 4♣ or 4 (hands 2,4,5).


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.

You have two choices going forward:

  • Italian cue bids or use RKCB to investigate if slam is on.
  • bid the suit you have 2 losers in – an anti-cuebid


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

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 🙂


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
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
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
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♣:

♠ K10752
♣ 86
♠ 87643
♣ 2
♠ 86543
♣ 7
♠ AJ754
♣ Q72
♠ J10543
♣ A
♠ AK864
♣ 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!


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:

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







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.

Puppet Stayman

This bid is used after an opening bid of 2NT showing 20-22 points where it can have a 5 card major. It’s used to find a 5-3 or 4-4 fit in the majors.

3♣ is puppet Stayman with the following responses.

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

Continuation after 3

3I have a 4 card spade suit (this is not a mis-print)
3♠I have a 4 card heart suit
3NTTo play
4♣Both majors with slam interest
4Both majors no slam interest
4Slam Try in Clubs
4♠Slam Try in Diamonds

For most people that’s enough information for you to use the system to find the right game contract. If you want to know more then read on…

Let’s look at the continuations to possible slam…

Continuations after 4♣

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

Continuations after opener has a 5 card heart suit

3♠Slam try in hearts (Could play this as RKCB in hearts!)
4♣Natural Slam try in Clubs
4Natural Slam try in diamonds
4To play
4NTRKCB for hearts or quantitative in hearts (make sure you agree)

Continuations after opener has a 5 card spade suit

3NTTo Play
4♣Natural Slam try in Clubs
4Natural Slam try in diamonds
4Slam try in spades (Could play this as RKCB in spades)
4♠To play
4NTRKCB for spades or quantitative in spades (make sure you agree)

After a 3NT response

4♣Natural Slam try in Clubs
4Natural Slam try in diamonds
45/5 in the majors no slam try
4♠5/5 in the majors slam try?

Opener bids 4NT to sign off or bids 4 over 4♣ to look for slam in clubs. Responder bids a major to show interest in slam in diamonds or bids 4NT to sign off.

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

Take a look at this puppet stayman video to see it in action.

Also when you’ve mastered puppet stayman….take a look at muppet stayman which is a more advanced system.

Picture Jumps

Picture jumps are used in the 2/1 bidding system.

If we start with an auction, with no intervening bidding such as:-

  • 1♠-2♣
  • 2 -?

So here we can bid 2♠ / 3♠ / 4♠ to show different kinds of holdings.

Firstly 2♠

A hand such as:

  • ♠ K107
  • K5
  • K76
  • ♣ KJ973

The two spade bid shows 3 card spade support but also denies holding a good 5 card club suit and good spades now making slam less likely.

Secondly 3♠

A hand such as:

  • ♠ KQ7
  • A5
  • 876
  • ♣ AKJxx

This raise shows good trump support, a good club suit and an outside control in one of the red suits.

And Finally 4♠

A hand such as:

  • ♠ KQ7
  • 65
  • J76
  • ♣ AKJxx

This shows excellent trump support and a great club support but no controls in the other suits.

By having all these different bids set in stone opener is more likely to know whether to go for a slam or not.

Kokish Game Tries

Kokish game tries are similar to trial bids. They come after partner has raised 1 of a Major to 2 of a Major, so:

  • 1 – 2 and 1♠ – 2♠

So 2♠ would be a kokish game try when the hearts have been raised and 2NT would be a kokish game try when the spades have been raised.

Responder now bids there lowest suit they are happy to accept a game try in…by either having help in that suit because they have a shortage or they have good values in that suit. So Qxx would not be considered that good in the suit where KJxx would be a good holding.

If responder cannot help in any suit they simply bid the major at the 3 level.

If opener doesn’t like the response e.g. 3♣ they can then bid 3 or 3 and ask for help in the bid suit.

You can also play a direct raise asks for help in the trump suit…but most people play that as a pre-emptive raise.

  • 1 – 2 – 3 and 1♠ – 2♠ – 3♠

The advantage of this system over normal long suit trial bids is if your partner shows no help you haven’t divulged where your weakness is.

Reverse Drury

When your partner decides to bid 1 of a major in the 3rd position in bridge…sometimes their bid can be weaker than a normal opening. It’s called a 3rd in hand opener. You can also do it in 4th position as well…usually when you hold the spade suit.

So we use an artificial bid of 2♣ or 2

The bid of 2♣ / 2 asks the opener for their strength….and shows either 3 or 4 card support depending on whether they used 2♣ / 2.

Very simply opener rebids their major if they are weak and bids anything else to show they have a sound opening bid.

Rebidding 2 of the major shows a hand with sub-opening values and any other bid now shows at least normal opening values.

This prevents the partnership from getting to the 3 level when only a 2 level contract can make.

Example Hands

So all of these hands you could open 1 of a Major in third or 4th

  1. ♠ – AQJ54 – Q984 – 6 ♣ – KQ10
  2. ♠ – 4 – AQ1097 – A986 ♣ – 974
  3. ♠ – AQJ105 – J102 – Q63 ♣ – 32
  4. ♠ – KJ10986 – A43 – KQ4 ♣ – 7
  5. ♠ – AK10986 – KQ3 – A4 ♣ – K7

After your partner bids 2♣ Reverse Drury, each hand would respond in the following way:-

  1. Bid 2 – Normal opening strength and shows 54 shape
  2. Bids 2 – weak opener…don’t go on partner
  3. Bids 2♠ – weak opener…don’t go on.
  4. Bids 4♠ – no other suit to show fast arrival…no slam interest
  5. Bids 3♠ – slam interest

Bergen Raises

There are many different types that people play Bergen raises…

Classic Bergen raises

After an opening bid of 1 Major (5 card suit) the responses are:

  • 3M – 2-6 points 4 card support
  • 3 – 10-12 points and 4 card support
  • 3♣ – 7-9 points and a 4 card raise

And that is it…in its simplest form!

To show 10-12 points and a 3 card raise you would have to bid something like 2 of a minor and then support by jumping to 3 or 4 of the Major. Alternatively if you are playing 2/1 you can bid a forcing 1NT and again jump to 3 of the Major to show that hand.

More complex Bergen Raises

So again after opening a five card major this time the responses can be:-

  • 4X = Void in that suit. Cannot show void in spades if hearts opened
  • 3NT = balanced 3334 shape with 3 card support for the major (13-15pts)
  • (3M) = 4 card suit 0-6 points
  • 1 – 2♠ = Undisclosed splinter, 4 card support 10-12 points
  • 1♠ – 3 = Undisclosed splinter, 4 card support 10-12 points
  • 1♠ – 3 = 4 card support 7-9 points
  • 1 – 3 = 4 card support 7-9 points
  • 1♠ – 3♣ = 4 card support 10-12 point
  • 1 – 3♣ = 4 card support 10-12 point
  • 1M – 2M = 3 card support 6-9 points

Competitive Auctions

Opener has been Doubled

A common sequence is 1M followed by the opposition doubling for take out.

If you wish you can keep Bergen raises on after a double…make sure you agree this with your partner.

There has been an overcall

Suppose the bidding goes 1 – 2♣ (overcall) – ?

Double – The other 2 suits
2 – Natural and forcing
2 – 3 card support weak
2♠ – Natural and forcing
2NT – Good 4 Card Raise
3♣ – A cue bid shows a 3 card raise
3 – A fit show – showing a good 5 card suit and 4 card support
3 – 3 card support weak
3♠ – A fit show – showing a good 5 card suit and 4 card support

What to do with 3 card support?

With 10-12 points and 3 card support – bid a forcing 1NT assuming you are playing 2/1 and rebid 3 of the major.

Alternatively bid 2♣ or 2 and then bid 3 / ♠.

After Undisclosed Splinter

After the undisclosed splinter you bid 2NT / 3NT to ask where the singleton is. Responder just bids the suit it is in or bids hearts to show a splinter in the major or the other major if you’ve agreed hearts.

Other Versions of Bergen

There are other versions of Bergen raises where you can show good 3 card raises straight away….useful if you aren’t playing 2/1 but then you cannot show undisclosed splinter bids as well if you play that particular system.

Also the downside of Bergen raises is you can give the opponents a chance to double your artificial bids to pinpoint a lead.

Muppet Stayman

Yes this is a thing!

So Muppet Stayman is an upgrade on Puppet Stayman. The idea is to find your 4-4 and 5-3 fits after partner opens or rebids 2NT AND get the strong hand to play out the contract.

The thing to remember is if you are the weak hand is never bid a suit you might want to play in….so bidding a major denies that major!

There are 19 hands here with continuations on to slam in some cases with some added complexity…

Puppet Stayman

In this video I’ll show how you play puppet stayman over a 2NT opener or rebid. Puppet stayman is a way to find 5-3 or 4-4 fits in a major.

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