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LESSON 8
Suit Responses after a 1 NT Opening

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BR 8.1 - Suit Responses after a 1 NT Opening

The 1NT Opening bid (showing 16-18 pts and a balanced hand) and the various NT responses were discussed in Lesson 4.

Suit Responses to a 1NT Opening show unbalanced and semibalanced hands and are straight forward (see the Bidding Guide page 3). Here follow some examples.

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Hand 1
You are the Responder with an unbalanced hand and a 6 card Spade suit.

• Opener has a balanced hand and therefore must have at least two cards in your Spade suit (a doubleton).
This means that you have a trump fit in Spades (6 + 2 = 8 Spades).

• Counting shortage points your hand is worth 12 points. Together you hold therefore between 28 (12 + 16) and 30 (12 + 18) points. Bid therefore straight to Game : 4♠.

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Hand 2
You are the Responder with an unbalanced hand and a 5 card Spade suit.

• Opener has a balanced hand and therefore must have at least two cards in your Spade suit (a doubleton).
However for a trump fit in Spades you need 3 card support (5 + 3 = 8 Spades).

• In this case you respond : 3♠
This conveys to the Opener the following message :
• Partner we have enough points for Game, and you must bid on until a Game contract is reached.
• I have a 5 card Spade suit, therefore reply 4♠ with 3 card trump support or bid 3NT when holding only a Spade doubleton.

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Case 2a
Here a typical trump fit combination involving Hand 2 (above)

1. North opens : 1NT

2. South responds : 3♠

3. North, with 3 card Spade support replies : 4♠

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Case 2b
Here a typical non trump fit combination involving Hand 2 (above)

1. North opens : 1NT

2. South responds : 3♠

3. North, with only a doubleton in Spades replies : 3NT

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Hand 3
You are the Responder with a semibalanced hand and a 5 card Heart suit.

• With a semibalanced hand and a 5 card or longer major suit, prefer to respond with the major suit rather than bidding NT.

• In this case respond : 3♥.

• Opener replies 4♥ with 3 card Heart support, or bids 3NT with only a Heart doubleton.

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Hand 4
You are the Responder with a semibalanced hand and a 5 card Club suit.

• With a semibalanced hand and a 5 card or longer minor suit, prefer to respond with the No Trump rather than bidding your minor suit.

• In this case respond : 3NT
You have 11 points, a semibalanced hand with a long Club suit.

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Here is a Diagram showing the 1NT Opening bid and the various suit responses.

As a responder with 15 or more points and a 5 card suit bid 3 of your suit first, then, after opener's response, raise opener's bid to 5 (with 15-16) or to 6 (with 17 - 20) as appropriate.

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BR 8.2 - The Rescue Bid

Rescue bids are Responses after a 1NT Opening bid.
They show unbalanced hands with only 0-7 points.
Opener must Pass after a Rescue bid!

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Hand 5
You are the Responder with an unbalanced hand and 6 Hearts.

• Normally with less than 7 points in your hand you would Pass.
Your hand is absolutely useless to the Opener, as it is most unlikely that he will ever be able to get the lead into your hand and cash some Heart winners.
Opener may well be weak in one or even two suits and perhaps not make the 1NT contract.

• Respond therefore : 2♥.
Suddenly you have 6 powerful trumps in your hand, and likely to make three tricks with them.
It provides a better contract, and alerts Opener that you have a unbalanced hand which is too weak to support a Game contract.

• Your bid is a Rescue bid. Opener must Pass.

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Hand 6
You are the Responder with an unbalanced hand and 5 Hearts.

• The same principle applies as for Hand 5. Make a Rescue bid of 2♥.

• Even if Opener only holds a doubleton Heart in his hand a 2♥ contract is much better than 1NT.

• Opener, once again, must Pass.

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BR 8.3 - The Stayman Convention   (Bidding Guide p.12)

Say your Partner opens the bidding with 1NT, and you hold the following unbalanced hand. What is your response ?

• You have 9 points but being unbalanced should not respond with 2NT
• You have no 5 card suit and therefore should not respond with a suit bid either.

The solution to this problem is provided by the Stayman Convention
After an Opening bid of 1NT a Response of 2♣ is the Stayman Convention. It shows 8+ points, at least one 4 card major suit, and asks Opener to bid his 4 card major suit.
Opener's replies are :

1. 2♦ - with no 4 card major
2. 2♥ - with 4 Hearts (or 4 cards in both major suits)
3. 2♠ - with 4 Spades
If there is a trump fit the Responder then raises the major suit to 3 (with 8-9 points) or to Game (with 10+ points).
If there is no trump fit the Responder bids 2NT with 8-9 pts, or 3NT with 10+ pts.

Here are two typical examples.

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Hand 7
You are the Responder with Hand 7.

You have an unbalanced hand with 9 points and both 4 card majors. An ideal hand to bid Stayman : 2♣

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Case 7a
North opens with 1NT.

• South responds with Stayman 2♣
• North replies with 2♥ - showing a 4 card Heart suit.
• South, after revaluating his hand (12 pts including shortage pts) bids 4♥

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Case 7b
North opens with 1NT.

• South responds with Stayman 2♣
• North replies with 2♦ - showing no 4 card major suit.
• South, with 9 points now bids 2NT
• North, with 18 points bids 3NT

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Hand 8
You are the Responder with Hand 8.

• Make a Stayman Response of 2♣.
This way you can explore the possibility of a trump fit in your 4 card Spade suit.
If Partner denies having 4 Spades you can still bid your 5 card Diamond suit, warning him that your hand is not balanced.

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Case 8a
North opens 1NT.

• South responds with Stayman 2♣.
• North replies 2♥ - showing a 4 card Heart suit.
• South now bids 3♦ - showing an unbalanced hand with 4 Spades (as he did not support Opener's Hearts) and 5 Diamonds.
• North, confident that he has South's short suits (Clubs and Hearts) covered now bids 3NT.

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Case 8b
North opens 1NT.

• South responds with Stayman 2♣.
• North replies 2♥ - showing a 4 card Heart suit. (With both 4 card majors he also must bid Hearts.)
• South now bids 3♦ - showing an unbalanced hand with 4 Spades and 5 Diamonds.
• North, realising that South's 4 card major must be Spades now confidently bids 4♠.

(Remember : South may only bid the Stayman Convention if he has at least one 4 card major. Otherwise there is no point in asking for 4 card major suits.)

Some general points :
1. The Stayman Convention can also be used for semibalanced hands and even with balanced 4432 distributions which includes a weak doubleton.

2. After a 2NT Opening - a 3♣ Response is also Stayman.

3. If you use the Stayman 2♣ bid, the weak Rescue bids can only be made for Diamonds, Hearts and Spades !

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BR 8.4 - Signals by the Defence

When a Defender is not required to play a high card to a trick he can take that opportunity to send a signal to his Partner.
This happens especially on the opening lead.

For example in a 3NT contract Partner makes the opening lead with the Queen of Clubs. The lead is obviously the top of a solid sequence. Dummy plays low from three small cards in the suit and you hold

K   7   2

By playing the Club 7 in stead of the 2, an 'unnecessary high card', you encourage Partner to continue to lead that suit and signal to him that you hold an honour card (in this case the King) in the suit.

What is a high card ?
Usually 6 or higher, but it all depends on what you hold in your hand.

 With   K J 6 4   the 6 is a 'high card' and the 4 low.But with   K J 4 2   the 4 is the 'high card' and encourages.

It is therefore important that Partner looks carefully at all the cards in his hand, in Dummy and on the table played in the trick.

Traditionally the high - low signal (high card on one trick, often followed by a low card on the next or a later trick) is ecouraging, the low - high signal discouraging or neutral.
In recent times several variations are popularly in use, such as encouraging indicated by low - high, or odds - evens.

I have included high - low signals in Deal 19 and Deal 20 of this lesson.
Can you identify situations in Example Deals from earlier lessons where a high - low would be appropriate ?   (Answer).

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BR 8.5 - Deals 17 to 20

Deals 17 to 20 are examples of bidding and play as outlined in this lesson.

BR 8.6 - Quiz 8   - Answers - Review

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