♣ ♦ Club News Sheet – No. 12 16/1/2003 ♥ ♠
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Who’s in charge?
What a silly question – I am, of course. But what I mean is at the table; it is North (or East if E-W are a stationary pair). The board should be placed on the table (in the correct orientation) by North and remain there throughout the duration of bidding and play.
‘When a board is to be played it is placed in the centre of the table until play is completed.’
One of our more flamboyant players (Chuck) suggested to Malgosia that she should have opened 1NT on a hand that contained a 5 card major; I was asked to comment. First of all, there is no ‘should’ about it. Expert opinion is divided. It is up to the individual/partnership style and understanding. Opening 1NT with a 5 card major is by no means that popular; the ACBL system cards, so kindly provided by Chuck, have a box that you need to tick for ‘5-card major common’.
There is obviously no problem in opening 1NT with a balanced hand and a 5 card minor. However, a 5 card major is more controversial. Opinion is divided on this subject; some never open 1NT with a 5 card major, some will allow a weak suit such as Q10543, while others will allow virtually any 5 card major suit. Which philosophy do I adopt? All three probably have equal merit, but I prefer the last (providing the hand is balanced in terms of both distribution (only 5332, occasionally 5422 acceptable) and location of high cards, i.e. the doubleton is Ax, Kx or Qx and the major is not top-heavy) for a number of reasons:
1- If you open 1♥/♠, then you will usually never be able to play in possibly the best contract of 1NT if you play 2/1 and a Forcing NT (my preferred system).
2- It is usually best to limit your hand as soon a possible, especially if relatively flat.
3- Once you open 1NT you never have a rebid problem. The hand is off your chest.
4- If you play 3♣ Puppet Stayman (a convention that locates both 4 and 5 card majors), you will never get into the wrong game contract.
5- 1NT (and most other contracts) will be played from the strong hand.
6- The defenders do not have it so easy defending against a No Trump contract as they do not know if declarer has a 5 card major or not.
7- There is also the negative inference, that a major suit opening within our 1NT range is usually a good suit and/or unbalanced.
Examples (of my preference) when playing a strong NT:
♠ AJ9 ♥ AQ984 ♦ K7 ♣ Q93 Open 1NT
♠ AJ9 ♥ Q10974 ♦ AK7 ♣ Q3 Open 1NT
♠ Q97 ♥ AKQ104 ♦ A7 ♣ J93 Open 1♥, the ♥’s are top-heavy
♠ AK9 ♥ AQ984 ♦ J7 ♣ Q93 Open 1♥, the doubleton is not good enough
(and the points are concentrated in two suits).
The hand is not balanced (point-wise)
As I said, the
experts disagree and many will open 1NT even if top-heavy, and there are
certainly many who would open the last hand 1NT. You do not guarantee a stopper
for in every suit for a 1NT opening, but the major suit contract may well be
better if 5 card with a very weak doubleton. Let’s have
an example of what I consider to be an unsuitable 1NT opening. But who am I to
disagree with Zia Mahmood
(South)? The hand is from the 1998
♣ 97654 dbl pass pass pass
♥ 108 W E ♥ AQJ973 the ♣A and then 6 ♥ tricks took the remainder.
♣ AJ103 ♣ 82 graphic example, but the South hand really
♠ AKQ54 is unsuitable for 1NT. I guess you have to
♥ 654 be a top international to make zero tricks in
♦ J43 a doubled contract and come away smiling?
Now over the last few weeks I have been pounding away at introducing a new suit at the two level with insufficient values, but apparently a few people have not realised what I am getting at.
You are playing a strong NT and so you open 1♦, planning to rebid 1NT
♠ AQ9 over partner’s 1♥/♠. Unfortunately, partner responds 2♣ and so your
♥ K106 rebid is now 2NT.This does not show any extras, it is still a non-jump and
♦ K962 is 12-14 points. Now if partner had (unwisely in my view) chosen to bid
♣ J32 2♣ on a flat 10 count then the final contract of 2NT may be too high. This
scenario is only a problem if you play a strong NT, as in the analogous
case of the weak NT the 2NT rebid here would show 15-16 points and there is never a problem. There is also a problem (when playing a strong NT) of bidding a new suit on a decent 11 points. If your partner (the opener) is flat with 12-14 points then he will
♥ AJ hand with the 3 point high card spread. With this hand, for example, do
♣ K952 partner rebids 2NT (12-14). Best is to bid 2NT yourself (showing 11 / bad
12 points) and allowing partner to pass with a min and bid 3NT with a
max (14+). Now some people are loathe to respond 2NT as it takes up so much space. This is true over a major suit opening, but over a 1♦ opening it really is very descriptive. 11 points and no 4 card major.
♥ A3 this hand on Friday. Perhaps the person in question (Chuck) should re-
♣ AKJ975 a 1♣ opening with a possible 2 card ♣ suit should be alerted). I would be loathe to have to alert a 1NT bid as possibly a good six card suit with a
useless doubleton and no tenace to protect! This hand is far too good for a strong NT – open 1♣ and rebid 3♣ over partner’s 1♦/♥/♠. If 3NT is to be the final contract, you want partner to be declarer. This hand has no tenace (such as Kx) to protect, and partner may well have. Aces belong on table. Wouldn’t it be sad if partner had ♣Q, a red king and ♠K and the opponents took the first 5 ♠ tricks in 3NT? What actually happened? Partner had a 7 count and passed 1NT, it made 12 tricks! Everybody else was in 3NT.
♣ AQ9875 These tenaces cry out for a 1NT opener.