Defense to 1NT
     
 
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Defenses to a 1NT opening

 
     
 

Suppose RHO opens 1NT, what do you do? With a flat hand you usually pass unless it's in the 15-18 point range when you might want to double for penalties.

 
     
 

But with an unbalanced hand you might well want to compete. Consider the following hands after RHO has opened 1NT, in this article I cover a number of common defences and discuss their pros and cons.

 
     
 
Hand A Hand B Hand C Hand D Hand E
                   
KQ9876 KQ987 KQ98 98 98
A65 A965 A965 9 AQ876
76 76 6 AQ876 9
A7 A7 AJ74 AQ854 AQ954
 
     
     
 
1)  

Natural defense to 1NT

 
 

Playing a natural defence to 1NT, all overcalls are natural. This would work fine with hand A but not for two suited hands. The problem is that the auction has already started rather high and it is unlikely that you will be able to mention both of your suits; and this would be especially dangerous against a strong No Trump.

 
     
 
2)  

Landy defense to 1NT

 
 

This is a very basic system, but it's easy to remember and also quite effective.

 
     
 
dbl = penalties
2 = both majors, at least 4-4 (I prefer at least 5-4).
 
     
 

All other bids are natural. The responses to a 2 Landy bid are not clearly defined. 2 is generally played as natural but I don't like to bid 2 Landy when just 4-4 in the majors and will always be at least 5-4; so for me the 2 response should show equal length in the majors just the same as with Multi Landy.

 
     
 

The Landy convention works well with hands A & B and with hand C if you allow 4-4 in the majors, but you cannot satisfactorily handle hands D & E.

 
     
 
3)  

Multi-Landy defense to 1NT

 
 

The Multi Landy defence to 1NT is my favourite and is fully defined on a separate page.

 
     
 
dbl = penalties
2 = both majors, at least 5-4.
2 = a single suited hand, usually a major but not necessarily.
2 = 's and a minor
2 = 's and a minor
2NT = both minors
 
     
 

This defence copes for all of the above hands except hand C, I guess you could bid 2 with hand C if you wish.

 
     
 

The response to 2 is that advancer bids his best major or bids 2 if equal length in the majors.

 
 

The response to 2 is similar to the Multi 2. Advancer bids 2 unless he is prepared to compete to 3 or more should overcaller have 's in which case he bids 2.

 
 

The response to 2/ is that advancer will normally pass with two or three card support, but with scant support and both minors he bids 2NT which asks for overcaller's minor.

 
     
 
4)  

Cappelletti

 
 

The Cappelletti defence is also written up on a separate page. It is the same as Multi Landy except that the meanings of the 2 and 2 bids are reversed.

 
     
 
dbl = penalties
2 = a single suited hand, usually a major but not necessarily.
2 = both majors, at least 5-4.
2 = 's and a minor
2 = 's and a minor
2NT = both minors
 
     
 

The response to 2 is that advancer usually simply bids 2 which overcaller will pass or correct to his suit.

 
 

The response to 2 is somewhat awkward however. Advancer bids his best major, but if he happens to be equal length then it's a toss-up and he may well find himself playing in a 4-3 (or 4-2) fit when there is a 5-3 (or 5-2) fit available in the other major.

 
     
 
5)  

Sharples

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = a shapely hand including 4 's.
2 = a hand with support for 's and both majors.
 
     
 

The only forcing response is for advancer to raise overcaller's bid. This convention looks like a complete lottery to me.

 
     
 
6)  

Cassino

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = a hand playable in 's and two other suits.
2 = both majors.
 
     
 

This defence works well with most 3-suited hands (except 's, 's, and 's) and thus is good for hand C; but it has its problems you may well find yourself playing in 2 when there is a major suit fit.

 
     
 
7)  

Astro

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = 's and a minor
2 = 's and another suit
 
     
 

This defence enables you to rummage around and hopefully eventually find a fit.

 
     
 
8)  

Aspro

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = 's and another suit
2 = 's and another suit minor
 
     
 

Obviously very similar to Astro and is a slight improvement for hands containing both majors.

 
     
 
9)  

Ripstra

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = both majors and tolerance for 's
2 = both majors and tolenance for 's
 
     
 

A slight improvement on Landy I guess.

 
     
 
10)  

DONT

   
 
 
DONT (Disturbing Opponent's No Trump) utilises double as an artificial bid (not penalties) and was designed for use against a strong NoTrump. The DONT defense to 1NT is fully described on a separate page.  
   
dbl = a single suited hand
2 = 's and another suit
2 = 's and a major
2 = both majors
2 = 's (a weaker hand that double followed by a bid).
     

I don't really like DONT. Apart from losing the penalty double you may well find yourself in a minor suit contract when there is a major suit fit (after a 2/ overcall is passed out).

 
 
     
 
11)  

Hello

 
     
 
Hello, named after the inventors Jerry Helms and Bill Lohmann, enables overcaller to show all single and two suited hands. It is designed such that, in many cases, the 1NT opener is on lead.
     
dbl = penalties
2 = 's or a major-minor two-suiter
2 = 's
2 = 's and ♠'s
2 = 's
2NT = 's
3 = 's and 's
     
It's up to you what you do in 4th seat, reversing the meaning of the 2/ and 2NT/3 bids would be in line with the principle of trying to keep opener on lead.
 
 
.
Helms to Hallo
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Helms to Hello

.
Jerry Helms
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Buy from Amazon.com
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  HELLO is very precise and must be one of the best conventions for defending against 1NT around provided that you and partner can remember it! It is, however, very logical and should be OK for the intermediate - advanced player.  
     
 
12)  

Becker

 
 
dbl = penalties
2 = both minors
2 = both majors
 
     
 

This defence allows you to find a fit at the two level, but it unfortunately only copes with two out of the 6 possible two-suited combinations.

 
     
 
13)  

Meckwell

 
 
dbl = a single suited or hand or both majors
2 = 's and a higher ranking suit
2 = 's and a major
2 = 's
2 = 's
2NT = a strong unspecified two-suiter.
 
     
  I don't like this Meckwell convention, for exactly the same reasons stated for DONT.  
 
  _____________________________  
 
     
 

That's just a dozen or so of the hundreds of defences to one No Trump around. My main objection to most of them is that they are not specific about a major suit held only HELLO, Multi Landy and Cappelletti get you to the major straight away without the risk of playing in a minor when you have a major suit fit. Cappelletti is probably the most popular defence these days, especially in America; but my recommendation is to play Multi Landy which is very similar but is a considerable improvement on Cappelletti.

 
     
     
 
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