Main Page - Previous - Lessons - Next Intermediate Bridge LESSON 9The Power 1NT Opening

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IBR 9.1 - Point ranges for the 1NT Opening

Comment
Ron Klinger (in his book "The Power System", 1993) states unequivocally that all 1NT opening bids (falling within the 12-18 pts range) are wrong, because they all have substantial flaws.
Here is an overview of the most common ones.

Here are a few of the negatives concerning these point ranges.
1. 1NT = 12-14 or 12-15
These bids have a good pre-emptive value by shutting out the Opponents from making any suit bid at the 1- level.
However this applies also to themselves, as they are frequently overcalled and then in many cases struggle to find a suitable part- score contract.   These Opening bids are also prone to being Doubled for penalties, often with dire results.

2. 1NT = 15-17 or 16-18
A major disadvantage here is that Responder (unless he makes a "Rescue bid") will pass with less than 8 points. As a result a better part score trump suit contract can easily be missed. Including a possible 5-card major in these 1NT Openings is especially vulnerable in this regard.
Above all the 19-20 points gap above these 1NT Openings leaves Opener no option but to open 1♣ or 1♦ with such point count, and is left in a poor contract whenever Partner passes with 5 points or less.

3. 1NT = all point ranges between 12 and 18
When fortunate enough to be left in a 1NT contract, you will on average achieve a good 65% Match point score (according to the statisticians). Therefore Opponents will do everything possible to interfere with such contract, and a wide range of defensive conventions have been devised to do just that : Astro, Becker, Brozel, Cappelletti, Canape, DONT, Landy, TRASH, Ripstra, RCO 2s, etc.

So is there a better range for the 1NT Opening bid ? According to Klinger, yes there is, and he has tested it within his self designed Power System successfully (both Nationally and Internationally) for many years.

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IBR 9.2 - The Power 1NT Opening (17-20 pts)

The Power 1NT is one of the crucial 5 elements of Ron Klinger's Power System, but can be used by itself and fit into any other bidding system.
The Power 1NT opening shows 17-20 points (including a possible length point) and a balanced hand which may include a 5-card major. The diagram below shows how it compares with other 1NT points ranges.

Considering the various problems with other 1NT points ranges as listed in Chapter 35.1, the following points can be made :

1. Enemy interference
It is a brave (if not reckless) Opponent indeed, who dares to make a Take-out double or Overcall over such a powerful opening, as it is likely to have dire consequences.
Bidding after a Power 1NT Opening will therefore proceed without any Enemy interference in 95% of all cases.

2. Being left stranded in 1♣ or 1♦ with 19-20 points
When Partner passes with less than 5 points (and a hand not suitable for a "Rescue bid") the 1NT contract will in the vast majority of cases be much better than being left stranded in 1♣ or 1♦.
In all other cases, when Partner does make a response bid, reaching the right contract is easy (and compatible with any other method) in view of the wide range of response options available.

3. Missing a major suit part-score contract
Because Partner must respond with at least 5 or 6 points, it is safe to include a 5-card major in the Power 1NT hand with 17-20 pts, as missing a superior part-score contract in a major trump suit is now impossible.

The diagram below shows the Power 1NT opening within the context of all other balanced hand opening bids in the system.

When using the Multi-2♦ opening bid, balanced hands with 21-22 points can be included as one of the options. (Also included in the Jazclass recommended version are 4441 hands with 18 HCP+ and/or 4 losers.)
In such case the 2NT Opening bid can be used for other purposes, such as a weak 2-suited hand (see RCO 2s).

After a Game force 2♣ Opening bid Opener's rebid of 2NT shows a balanced hand with 23-24 points, while a rebid of 3NT shows a balanced 25+ points hand.

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IBR 9.3 - Power 1NT without 5-card majors (Recommended !)

The Power 1NT opening can stand entirely on its own and can be used within any simple NT bidding arrangement.
The great thing is that your Partner must respond with 6 points or more, no matter what.

By not including 5-card major suits in the 1NT opening (which I much prefer personally), you can use the system I recommend as shown below. It uses a slightly modified version of the Stayman Convention, where traditional Stayman replies made at the 2- level show 17-18 points, and mirror replies at the 3- level show 19-20 points.

(Note : Balanced hands with 5332 shape and a 5 card minor can be included in the 1NT opening.)

The 2NT response is used as a transfer bid and therefore is not available as the regular invitation bid to the Responder. To find out Opener's points range Responder must therefore bid 2♣ regardless whether he holds a 4-card major or not.
After Opener's rebid of 2NT or 3♣ (showing both majors), the Responder (if he does hold a 4-card major) can use transfers : bidding 3♦ as transfer to 3♥, or bidding 3♥ as transfer to 3♠.

(If you wish to keep it simple you can also use the traditional response system as shown in the Basic Bidding Guide page 3, except that all responses are now 2 points less than shown.)

 Ex. 1 Opener (W) ♠ - A K ♥ - K J 8 5 ♦ - A 9 5 3 ♣ - Q 9 2 Responder (E) ♠ - Q 8 4 2 ♥ - A 9 7 3 ♦ - 8 7 4 ♣ - 8 6 Comment Opener's 2♥ shows a 4- card major and 17-18 pts. Responder passes with only 6 HCP. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♣ - 2♥ - Pass

 Ex. 2 Opener (W) ♠ - A 3 ♥ - K J 4 ♦ - A Q 10 5 ♣ - K Q 9 7 Responder (E) ♠ - 9 7 4 2 ♥ - A Q 10 7 ♦ - K 9 7 ♣ - 6 2 Comment Opener's reply of 3♦ shows a maximum 19-20 points without a 4-card major. Responder signs off with 3NT. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♣ - 3♦ - 3NT - Pass

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IBR 9.4 - Power 1NT with 5-card majors

When including 5-card majors in your 1NT Opening I recommend that you combine it with the Extended Stayman Convention.

1. It enables Opener to show his range : minimum = 17- 18 points, maximum = 19-20 points

2. It enables Opener to show both a 4-card or a 5-card major

3. It enables Responder too to show a 5-card suit

Here is the relevant bidding Diagram.

After Opener has confirmed holding a 4-card major (through bidding 2♦ with a minimum 17-18 pts, or with 3♣ with a maximum 19 -20 pts opening hand) Responder can ask for the 4-card major by bidding 3♦.

After Opener has denied holding a 4-card major (through bidding 2NT with a minimum 17-18 pts, or with 3♦ with a maximum 19 -20 pts opening hand) Responder can show his 5-card major by bidding 3♥ or 3♠. Here follow two examples.

 Ex. 3 Opener (W) ♠ - A K ♥ - K Q 8 5 ♦ - A 9 5 3 ♣ - Q 9 2 Responder (E) ♠ - Q 8 4 2 ♥ - A 9 7 3 ♦ - 8 7 4 ♣ - 8 6 Comment Opener's 2♦ shows a 4- card major and 17-18 pts. Responder's 3♦ asks for the major, then passes Opener's reply having only 6 HCP. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♣ - 2♦ - 3♦ - 3♥ - Pass

 Ex. 4 Opener (W) ♠ - A 3 ♥ - K J 9 7 4 2 ♦ - A Q 10 5 ♣ - K Q 9 Responder (E) ♠ - 8 7 4 2 ♥ - A Q 10 ♦ - K 9 7 2 ♣ - 6 2 Comment Opener's reply of 3♥ shows a maximum 19-20 points and 5 hearts. Responder signs off with 4♥. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♣ - 3♥ - 4♥ - Pass

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IBR 9.5 - Other responses to a Power 1NT

Responder hands not suitable for the Stayman enquiry route are of two types : weak unbalanced hands normally suitable for a "Rescue bid" and 6+card suits of various strength.

Two type of responses to the Power 1NT, shown on adjacent diagram, cater for all those hands. They can be used in the following situations :

1. With weak unbalanced hands go the Transfer route and pass after Opener made his transfer bid.

2. With 6-11 points and a 6+card suit also go the Transfer route, bid to Game after Opener's response.

3. With 12-14 points and a 6+card suit bid 2♣ (Extended Stayman).
If Opener is minimum (17-18) proceed to Game, if Opener is maximum proceed to Slam.

4. With 15+ points and a 6+card suit, bid your suit directly at the 3-level. This shows interest in Slam even if Opener is minimum.

When the 1NT Opener is maximum (19-20 pts), has 3+card support for Responder's major suit and a doubleton, he makes a super accept, by bidding his transfer suit at the 3- level.   For example :   1NT - 2♦ - 3♥

1NT - 2♠ - 2NT
When the Opener, after Responder's transfer request of 2♠ replies with 2NT (instead of 3♣) he is showing 19-20 points plus 3+card support and a top Honour (A, K or Q) in Responder's suit.

1NT - 2NT - 3♣
Likewise when the Opener, after Responder's transfer request of 2NT replies wit 2♣ (instead of 3♦) he is showing 19-20 points plus 3+card support and a top Honour (A, K or Q) in Responder's suit.

These two additions may reveal that Responder's long minor suit can be run for its full length, a strong positive for a potential 3NT contract.

 Ex. 5 Opener (W) ♠ - A K ♥ - K 8 ♦ - A 9 5 3 ♣ - Q J 9 7 Responder (E) ♠ - Q 8 4 ♥ - A J 9 7 3 ♦ - 8 7 4 ♣ - 8 6 Comment After Opener's transfer Responder passes having only 7 HCP. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♦ - 2♥ - Pass

 Ex. 6 Opener (W) ♠ - K Q 3 ♥ - K J 9 7 ♦ - A Q 10 5 ♣ - A 7 Responder (E) ♠ - A 8 7 4 2 ♥ - A Q 10 ♦ - K 9 7 ♣ - 6 2 Comment Opener's super-accept of 3♠ shows a maximum 19-20 points, 3 hearts and a doubleton. Responder confidently bids to Slam. Bidding : (W) 1NT - 2♥ - 3♠ - 6♠ - Pass

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IBR 9.6 - Bidding after Enemy Interference

Standard Responses after Opponent's Overcall : 1NT - (2♥) - ?

1. DBL = Stayman, with a minimum (6-7 pts)
Opener may Pass, converting the double in a Penalty double if this is the better option.

2. Cue bid Enemy Suit (3♥) = Stayman with 8+ pts

3. New suit below Enemy suit (2♠, 3♣, 3♦) = Natural and non forcing

4. 2NT = Invitational

5. 3NT = to play

6. New suit above Enemy suit (3♠, 4♣, 4♦) = Natural and forcing

Experienced players will normally not Overcall with a rock solid suit, but rather pass to avoid Opener escaping into a safe suit.   Therefore either Opener or Responder is likely to have a stopper in the Enemy suit when an Overcall has been made.

Bidding after Opponent's Take-out Double remain unchanged, but a Redouble is for penalties.

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IBR 9.7 - The Power 1NT + Multi-2♦ alignment

By using the elements for the Multi-2♦ opening bid as proposed by Jazclass in Lesson 29.1 a most useful alignment with the Power 1NT opening is created with beneficial effects to two other opening bids.
The Multi-2♦ opening bid options are :

1. A weak 6+card major, with 6-10 HCP

2. A balanced hand with 21-22 points

3. A 4-4-4-1 shaped hand with 17+ HCP

Option B frees up the 2NT opening for an other purpose, such as a weak 5-5 suited hand with both minors as part of the RCO 2 openings.

Option C has two very significant flow on effects :

1. It ensures that a 2♣ opening either shows a balanced hand or contains a 5+card suit.
Opener's rebids of 2NT (23-24) and 3NT (25+) show therefore genuine balanced hands.

2. It also ensures that an opening bid of 1♣ or 1♦ with 17+ HCP always contains a 5+card suit.
Because 4333 and 4432 shapes are opened with 1NT and 4441 shapes with the Multi-2♦.

This second point (above) is especially useful, as it eliminates the possibility of Opener being left stranded in 1♣ or 1♦ with a strong hand but only 2 or 3 trump cards. With 17+ HCP he will always be opening 1♣ 1♦ 1♥ 1♠ with a genuine 5+card suit.

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IBR 9.8 - The 12-16 pts 1NT rebid and Crowhurst 2♣

Balanced hands of 12-16 points are opened with 1 in a suit, and when no 4-4 major fit is found rebid with 1NT.
In such situation the Responder only wishes to bid on with 2 types of hands :

1. when Responder holds 10+ points (and 8 losers at most), and a Game contract may be possible.

2. when Responder holds an unbalanced hand with 6-9 points and a 1NT contract may be defeated.

The Crowhurst 2♣ Convention can clearly distinguish between these two different scenarios. It also provides an ideal opportunity for the Opener to define his points range precisely.

With a weak unbalanced hand Responder can bid any suit except 2♣ without the risk that Opener misjudges him for a strong hand.
After Responder's Crowhurst 2♣ the Opener rebids :

1. a suit at the 2-level with 12-13 points

2. 2NT with exactly 14 points

3. a suit at the 3-level with a maximum 15- 16 points

Opener also shows his 3-card support for Responder' suit. This makes it easy for Responder to find his way to the right contract.

 Ex. 7 Opener (W) ♠ - A 8 ♥ - K Q 8 5 ♦ - A Q 5 3 ♣ - 9 6 2 Responder (E) ♠ - Q J 8 4 2 ♥ - A 9 7 2 ♦ - 8 7 ♣ - K 6 Comment After Responder's Crowhurst, Opener bids his 4-card ♥ suit at the 3-level, showing 15-16 points.With Responder's unprotected K♣ as only stopper in that suit a 3NT contact could easily be defeated. Bidding : (W) 1♦ - 1♠ - 1NT - 2♣ - 3♥ - 4♥ - Pass

 Ex. 8 Opener (W) ♠ - A 8 3 ♥ - Q 9 4 ♦ - A Q 8 5 4 ♣ - 9 4 Responder (E) ♠ - 7 4 2 ♥ - A K 9 7 3 ♦ - K 9 ♣ - J 6 2 Comment Opener shows a minimum 12-13 points hand with 3-card support for Responder's suit. Responder wisely passes after that. Bidding : (W) 1♦ - 1♥ - 1NT - 2♣ - 2♥ - Pass

 Ex. 9 Opener (W) ♠ - A 9 3 ♥ - K 4 ♦ - A J 9 5 ♣ - J 9 7 6 Responder (E) ♠ - 7 ♥ - A Q 10 7 3 ♦ - 8 6 2 ♣ - 8 5 4 2 Comment Responder's rebid of 2♥ shows a hand unsuitable for NT with 6 -9 points and at least 5 ♥s. Opener can confidently pass, knowing that no Game contract is possible. Bidding : (W) 1♦ - 1♥ - 1NT - 2♥ - Pass

Crowhurst after an Enemy Overcall
If the Enemy makes an Overcall over Opener's 1NT the following options for the Responder apply :

1. Bid of any suit = weak, 6-9 points, usually 9+ losers

2. 2NT (invitational) and 3NT = natural with Enemy suit stopper

3. DBL = Crowhurst, 10+ points interest in Game
Opener replies
1. at the 2-level = 12-14 points
2. at the 3-level = 15-16 points

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IBR 9.9 - The 1NT Overcall

Traditionally in the Standard system the 1NT Overcall has the same points range as the 1NT Opening bid, with the only added requirement being a stopper in the Enemy suit.
However for the Power 1NT this is not appropriate. After Opponent's Opening bid you are unlikely to have a 17-20 points hand yourself, and in such rare case that you do : prefer to make a take-out double.

Klinger recommends you use the 1NT Overcall for balanced hands within the 15-18 HCP range, 2 HCP lower than the Power 1NT Opening bid. This is more likely to occur and is also strong enough to protect you against Opponent's penalty double. Remember, one of your Opponents holds an Opening hand and his Partner is therefore in an excellent position to judge their combined strength.

The responses to Partner's 1NT Overcall cna be the same as those to his 1NT Opening, except all point ranges are 2 HCP less.

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IBR 9.10 - Practice Material