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.

Pierre please note. Please leave the empty board in the middle of the table during play – this leads to less mis-scoring, mis-boarding and possible unethical questions about vulnerability etc during play. Now this is not just something that I made up, it is Law 7a:


‘When a board is to be played it is placed in the centre of the table until play is completed.’


Opening 1NT with a 5 card major?


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 Macallan International Bridge pairs. You have to be a top class player to even be invited to this tournament, and these players were 4 of the World’s best.


Dealer:             1072                                     West          North         East            South

South               K2

Both vul            875                                       -                 -                 -                 1NT 

                        97654                                  dbl             pass           pass           pass 


6                         N               J983             West cashed the first 6 tricks, followed by

108                 W    E            AQJ973       the A and then 6 tricks took the remainder.

AKQ1096          S                2                   7 down in a 1 level contract! Perhaps    rather a

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?   

















The No Trump Rebid


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

                        bid 2NT. You (the 11 point hand) are then left with the decision whether to go

K103            on to 3NT or not. You have no idea! The decision should be made by the

AJ                hand with the 3 point high card spread. With this hand, for example, do

J753              not bid 2 over a 1/ opening as you have no idea what to do when

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.


Opening 1NT with a 6 card minor?


96                 This may seem a silly question, but somebody actually did open 1NT with

A3                this hand on Friday. Perhaps the person in question (Chuck) should re-

A72              consider his request to me about typing up something on alerts (he says that

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.                                                                            

KJ                Now this is more like it! I would certainly have no problems with

K3                somebody opening a strong NT with this hand. The suit is not so

Q92              robust and a rebid of 3 having opened 1 would be an overbid.

AQ9875       These tenaces cry out for a 1NT opener.