Main Page - Lesson Deals - Lessons Previous - Next Bidding Guide : 2 - 3 - 14 - Facts 2 Contract Bridge LESSON 4No Trump Opening bids

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BR 4.1 - Scoring Bonus Points

There are four types of Contracts which can be arrived at during the auction (bidding period) for each deal.

1. Part score contract - the number of tricks bid add up to less than 100 trick points.
For example :
• 2NT     = 40 + 30 = 70 trick points
• 3♥ or 3♠ = 3 x 30 = 90 trick points
• 4♦ or 4♣ = 4 x 20 = 80 trick points

2. Game score contract - the number of tricks bid add up to 100 trick points or more
For example :
• 3NT     = 40 + 30 + 30 = 100 trick points
• 4♥ or 4♠ = 4 x 30 = 120 trick points
• 5♦ or 5♣ = 5 x 20 = 100 trick points

3. Small Slam contract - bids of 6NT, 6♠, 6♥, 6♦ and 6♣ (making 12 tricks)

4. Grand Slam contract - bids of 7NT, 7S, 7H, 7D and 7C (making all 13 tricks)

The Bonus points for the various contracts are added to trick points. Bonus points are only awarded if the contract was both bid during the auction and made during the play.

For example :
• A bid of 3♠ making 9 tricks = 3 x 30 trick points + 50 bonus points = 140 points total

• A bid of 3♠ making 10 tricks = 4 x 30 trick points + 50 bonus points = 170 points total

• A bid of 4♠ making 10 tricks = 4 x 30 trick points + 300 bonus points = 420 points total

• A bid of 5♦ making 11 tricks = 5 x 20 trick points + 300 bonus points = 400 points total

• A bid of 5♦ making 12 tricks = 6 x 20 trick points + 300 bonus points = 420 points total

• A bid of 6♦ making 12 tricks = 6 x 20 trick points + 800 bonus points = 920 points total

When you fail to make the number of tricks required for the contract you bid during the auction, you receive no points at all. Instead the Opponents score 50 points for each trick (down trick) you are short of your contract. For example :

• A bid of 3♠ making 8 tricks = 1 down trick = 50 points for the opposition

• A bid of 5♦ making 8 tricks = 3 down tricks = 150 points for the opposition

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BR 4.2 - Game and Slam Contracts

From the above it becomes clear that it is very important to arrive at the correct final contract bid during the auction. If not, your side may miss out on valuable bonus points.

The initial bids during the auction are therefore used to convey to your Partner the strength of your hand and the length of potential trump suits.
Eventually either you or your Partner will have a sufficiently accurate idea of the trick taking potential of the combined hands to bid the final contract.

The Diagram below shows the combined point strengths required to have a good chance of making a Game or a Slam contract.

• a Game contract of 3NT, 4♠ or 4♥ - requires at least 26 points in the combined hands

• a Game contract of 5♦ or 5♣ - requires at least 29 points in the combined hands

• a Small Slam (12 tricks) - requires at least 33 points in the combined hands

• a Grand Slam (13 tricks) - requires at least 37 points in the combined hands

There are card distributions that will produce a game contract with less than 26 points. There are other card distributions where 26 points is not enough to make a game contract.
However for most card distributions the above points requirements are sufficiently accurate to rely on with confidence. They are universally accepted as the target points totals for bidding Game and Slam contracts.

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BR 4.3 - The Opening bid of 1NT

In Standard bidding with 5-card Majors (used throughout this course) the Opening bid of

1 NT shows 16-18 points and a balanced hand

The 1 NT opening bid defines the hand within a very narrow point range. It is a so-called limit bid.
All limit bids are indicated in the bidding guide with a dotted line underneath the bid.

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Hand 1 - you have 16 points and a balanced hand  > > open 1 NT

(High Card Points :   A = 4 pts   K = 3 pts   Q = 2 pts   J = 1 pt   10 = ½ pt)

Hand 2 - you have 18 points and a balanced hand  > > open 1 NT

Hand 3 - you have 19 points and a balanced hand  > > do not open 1 NT (you are too strong)

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Hand 4 - you have only 15 points and a balanced hand  > > do not open 1 NT (you are too weak)

Hand 5 - you have 17 points but a semibalanced hand  > > do not open 1 NT (you are not balanced)

Hand Shape
(Balanced = 0 or 1 doubleton   Semibalanced = 2 or 3 doubletons   Unbalanced = void or singleton)

It is most important to make a bid which describes your hand properly. Bids which are "almost" right reduce the effectiveness of your communication with your Partner significantly.
There is always an alternative correct bid for every hand.

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BR 4.4 - Final bid Responses   (after a 1 NT opening bid)

The 1 NT opening bid is a clearly defined bid with a very narrow points range. The Partner of the opening bidder is therefore usually in a position to determine the final bid and contract immediately.

Let us assume that your Partner opened the bidding with 1 NT.
Your responses with the following hands are :

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Hand 6 - you have 7 points and have a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 7 + 16 = 23 points at least
• 7 + 18 = 25 points at the most

This is not enough for a Game contract (which requires 26 points at least), but you should make 1 or 2 NT. Your response is therefore : Pass

 There is no point in bidding 2NT on this hand. Bidding 1NT and making 8 tricks scores the same number of points as bidding 2NT and making 8 tricks (40 + 30 + 50 = 120 pts). Bidding 2NT therefore only increases the risk of not making your contract (you lose 50 points if you only make 7 tricks) without having any benefit.

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Hand 7 - you have 12 points and have a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 12 + 16 = 28 points at least
• 12 + 18 = 30 points at the most

There are enough points for a Game contract (which requires 26 points at least), but not enough for a Small Slam (which requires 33 points at least).
Your response is therefore : 3 NT

You have an excellent chance of making your contract and will receive 300 bonus points for bidding a Game contract if you do so.

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Hand 8 - you have 18 points and have a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 18 + 16 = 34 points at least
• 18 + 18 = 36 points at the most

This is enough for a Small Slam contract (which requires 33 points), but not enough for a Grand Slam (which requires 37 points).
Your response is therefore : 6 NT

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Hand 9 - you have 22 points with a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 22 + 16 = 38 points at least
• 22 + 18 = 40 points at the most

This is enough for a Grand Slam contract (which requires 37 points at least).
Your response is therefore : 7 NT

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BR 4.5 - Invitation bid Responses   (after a 1 NT opening bid)

Again your Partner opened the bidding with 1 NT.
Your responses with the following hands are :

Hand 10 - you have 9 points and a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 9 + 16 = 25 points at least
• 9 + 18 = 27 points at the most
This is not enough for a Game contract if your Partner has only 16 points, but if he has 17 or 18 points you should be in Game.
What to do ?

You simply bid 2 NT.
This is an invitation bid, asking Partner to :
1. pass if he holds minimum points (here 16 points), or to

2. raise to 3 NT (Game) with maximum points (here 17 - 18 points).

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Hand 11 - you have 16 points and a balanced hand.
The strength of your and Partner's hands together is :

• 16 + 16 = 32 points at least
• 16 + 18 = 34 points at the most
There may be a possibility of a Small Slam, but only if your Partner holds 17 or 18 points.

Again you make an invitation bid of 4NT, asking Partner to pass with only 16 points, or to bid 6 NT with 17 - 18 points.

 The 4NT bid is also used as a popular convention bid (the Blackwood Convention) as described later in this course. However in a sequence of NT opening and responses 4NT is always 'natural' and invitational to 6NT.

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BR 4.6 - The Bidding Guide

Page 3 of the Bidding Guide shows all the responses to a 1 NT Opening bid and, where applicable, the replies (2nd bid) by the Opener. The left side of the guide shows all the NT responses introduced in this Lesson.

 Final bids are shown in yellow boxes on the adjacent Diagram. (The 1 NT opening also becomes a final bid when the Responder passes with only 0 - 7 points.) Throughout the Bidding Guide : all bids made by the Opener are displayed in boxes with rounded cornersall bids made by the Responder are displayed in boxes with sharp corners all bids underlined by a dotted line are limit bids Limit bids are bids showing a well defined narrow points range. It gives the Partner of the limit bid caller a clear count of the maximum point strength for the combined hands.

Occasionally you may end up in a 3NT contract with only 25 points (Opener with 17, Responder with only 8 points). This is however much better than always erring on the the safe side, and missing out on many Game contracts.

After a limit bid has been made, Partner has always three options.

1. Pass if there is no possibility of a Game (or Slam) contract.

2. Bid Game (or Slam) directly - if the combined points count falls fully within the Game contract (or Slam) range.

3. Make an Invitation bid (here 2NT or 4NT) - if the combined points range only falls partly within the Game contract (or Slam) range.

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BR 4.7 - Stronger NT Hands

Stronger NT Opening hands are bid as follow :

• 19-20 pts = bid 1♣ or 1♦ first (see Lesson 5), then rebid 3NT at your next turn

• 21-22 pts = 2NT

• 23+ pts = 2♣ (Conventional), rebid 2NT = 23-24, or 3NT = 25+ pts)
Responses after a 2 NT Opening bid :
0-3 pts = Pass
4+ pts   = 3NT
12+ pts = 6NT

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BR 4.8 - Starting the Play after the Auction

 When a bid is followed by three successive passes (by the other three players) that bid becomes the final bid and contract.The player who bid the final nomination first (not necessarily the final bid) becomes the Declarer. His Partner becomes the Dummy. The player to the left of the Declarer makes the Opening lead. After that first card has been played, Dummy places all his cards face up on the table (arranged into the four suits, with the trump suit, if there is one, on his right) and plays a card to each trick as directed by the Declarer.

 Example 1 The Bidding goes : 1NT (N) - 3NT (S) - Pass (N)North is the Declarer in this 3NT contract, as he was the first player to bid NT. South will be the Dummy Hand.East, who is the player on Declarer's left side makes the Opening lead. Example 2 The Bidding goes : 1♥ (W) - 1S (E) - 4♠ (W) - Pass (E)East is the Declarer in this 4♠ contact, as he was the first player to bid Spades. West will be the Dummy Hand. South, who is the player on Declarer's left side makes the Opening lead. Example 3 The Bidding goes : 1♦ (N) - 1♥ (S) - 1S (N) - 1NT (S) - Pass (N)South is the Declarer in this 1N contact, as he was the first and only player to bid NT. North will be the Dummy Hand. West, who is the player on Declarer's left side makes the Opening lead.

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BR 4.9 - Deals 1 to 4

Deals 1 to 4 reflect bidding and play dealt with in this lesson.

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BR 4.10 - Strategy in NT Play

The strategy in NT play for the Declarer is :

1. Count your sure winners - these are tricks you can win straight away without losing a single trick.

2. If you have not enough sure winners to make your contract : Determine which suit can provide the necessary extra winners.

3. Play this suit immediately and lose a trick early if necessary.

If you cash all your winning card first before you develop the extra tricks, the Opponent will win tricks with their smaller cards and defeat your contract.

Example - the contract is 3 NT
Declarer can count 6 sure winners : Ace of Spades, Ace King of Hearts, and Ace King Queen of Diamonds.

 Declarer ♠ - 8 6 3 2 ♥ - A K 4 ♦ - A Q 7 ♣ - K Q 6 Dummy ♠ - A 7 5 ♥ - 7 6 2 ♦ - K 3 ♣ - J 10 9 7 5

Three more winning tricks are required.
These can easily come from the Club suit. Declarer must therefore play his Club King immediately to remove the Club Ace held by the Opponents.
When they win the lead with the Club Ace, Declarer still holds the high cards in the other suits with which he can regain the lead and then play his winning tricks, included the newly established winners in Clubs (Q J 10 and 9).

 If Declarer cashes his winning tricks in Spades, Hearts and Diamonds before tackling the Club suit, the Defenders (when gaining the lead with the Club Ace) can play their winning tricks in Spades (K Q J) and Hearts (Q J) and defeat the 3NT contract.

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BR 4.11 - 'High Card from the Short Side' Technique

The player who wins a trick always leads to the next trick. This requires careful planning when Declarer wishes to run a suit (play a string of winners) in which the winners are divided over the two hands.
In this case the correct play technique is to play the high cards in the short suited side first. This principle is demonstrated in the following three tricks when running winners in the Club suit.

 Trick 1 Declarer - leads in trick 1 ♣ - (Q) 5 Dummy ♣ - A K J (6) In trick 1 Declarer leads his Club Queen Trick 2 Declarer - leads in trick 2 ♣ - (5) Dummy ♣ - (A) K J In trick 2 Declarer leads his small Club to Dummy's Ace.The lead for the next trick is now in Dummy. Trick 3 Declarer other suit - (discard) Dummy - leads in trick 3 ♣ - (K) J Dummy's Club King can now be lead in trick 3, followed by the Jack in trick 4

If Declarer reverses his leads in the first two tricks he will find himself cut off from Dummy.
As a consequence he will not be able to play the remaining two Club winners (K and J) stranded in Dummy.
The disaster happens like this :

 Trick 1 Declarer - leads in trick 1 ♣ - Q (5) Dummy ♣ - (A) K J 6 In trick 1 Declarer leads his small Club to Dummy's Ace.The lead is now in Dummy. Trick 2 Declarer ♣ - (Q) Dummy - leads in trick 2 ♣ - K J (6) In trick 2 Dummy leads his small Club to Declarer's Queen.The lead for the next trick is back with the Declarer. Trick 3 Declarer - leads in trick 3 ♣ - ? ? Dummy ♣ - K J Declarer has no Clubs left to lead back to Dummy's King. Two winning Club tricks (K and J) are left stranded in Dummy

BR 4.12 - Quiz 4 - Answers - Review

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