Garbage Stayman
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Garbage Stayman

  There are numerous examples in the news-sheets where I recommend bidding Stayman with few points. One pair asked me about this as they had always thought that you need invitational values or more to bid Stayman. In principle, that is correct, and there are just two exceptions where you can bid Stayman with a very weak hand: -  
Hand A Hand B Hand C

With Hand A you can bid 2 . You pass a 2/response and convert 2 to 2 . It's the same when youhave 5 's and 4 's (convert 2 to 2 ). With Hand Byou can bid 2 and pass any response. But with Hand Cyou will be fixed over a 2 reply and so it is best to pass1NT. You do not want to in a possible 4-2 fit.

K9864 K984 K984
J762 J762 J762
76 87642 -
Q5 - 87642

Stayman or transfer when 5-4 (or 4-5) in the majors and weak?

  With hands like Hand A you should try Stayman rather than transferring. Let's have some news-sheet examples: -  
West East West North East South
        - - 1NT pass
Q983 KJ1072 2 pass 2 pass
Q10764 A3 pass pass    
85 AK3        
63 J95        
  If you open 1 with the East Hand then you will probably end up in 2 or 3 (perhaps 1 - 2- 3 - pass, or maybe via a 3 help suit game try ), which is fine. A strong 1NT is perhaps a better opening and this was the auction at our table. I note that at one table a contract of 2 by East was reached, obviously via a transfer. With these weak 5-4 or 4-5 major hands, do not transfer but look for a fit via Stayman. Nine tricks were there in 's and 2 went one down.  
  Here's a similar hand from the news-sheets: -  
West East West North East South
        - - 1NT pass
Q964 KJ109 2 pass 2 pass
Q9853 72 pass pass    
7 AK92        
862 AQ7      
  This was the bidding at our table. Jeff opened a strong NT and his partner (Jim) correctly bid Stayman rather than transferring. Two pairs played in 2 after transferring. The 4-4 fit usually produces an extra trick, 2 made exactly and 2 scored plus one.  
  Note that if responder does not have a 4 or 5 card major then he will reply 2 to Stayman. In that case, responder must then bid his 5 card suit. Thus the sequences: -  

1NT - 2 - 2 - 2

and (b) 1NT - 2 - 2 - 2 are weak and opener must pass.
  The disadvantage of using Stayman rather than transferring is that in these latter two sequences when opener has no 4 card major then the contract is played by the weaker hand. A small price to pay for not missing the 4-4 or better fit. And another disadvantage if you transfer, partner may super-accept which may be sad if you have a weaker hand.  
  The bottom lines: -

•  Don't listen to people who tell you to transfer with these hand types.


•  Locating a possible 4-4 or better fit is all important.


•  Playing in a 5-2 or 5-3 fit when there is a 4-4 or 5-4 fit is just silly.

  So that's all quite straightforward, Responder is in charge and is the captain. But like most conventions, Garbage Stayman is sometimes abused. Let's have an example from news-sheet 158 which caused some disagreement between two of the club's top players: -  

Open 1NT and you've said it all

Board 7 from Wednesday 9 th
Dealer: AK10     West North East South
South A105     - - - pass
Both vul 982     pass 1NT pass 2♣ (1)
    AQ97     pass 2 pass 2 (2)
Q94 853 pass 3 (3) all pass  
J1064 AKQ75        
KJ84 3        
(1) South took a view here. With a singleton 1NT did not look attractive, and if partner has a
  4 card major (or even a 5-card major) then 1NT would be a very silly contract indeed. Now for this ‘Garbage' Stayman bid you really should be 54xx, 45xx or 4441 (short 's) but South took a reasonable (some may say wild) gamble – if partner did not have a 4-card major then he would bid 2 (although it's promising 5 's) and hope that that was a decent spot. Mind you, if partner has decent 's and a doubleton then this gamble would be a disaster.
(2) And South did have to bid his 4 card suit; but 2 with the 4-3 fit is a good spot!
(3) Now South has shown 4 's, 5 's and a weak hand. His range is around 0-7 so the average
  is about 4 points. North decided that his flat hand was worth a try for game. My opinion is that this is not a ‘view' but simply a very poor bid. Opposite partner's advertised weak hand you will go off in 3 most of the time and partner will need a super maximum to make game. The problem is that this North hand has only 3 trumps and is also totally flat – it is way against the odds to bid on and risk going down.


. . .And what happened? 3 went minus one for a poor score. 2 making would have been a good score. At other tables there were the usual spurious results but 1NT made exactly and 2NT was 3 down. Looks like 2 would have been a great spot.

The bottom lines: -

Deduct a point for the totally flat 4333 type shape – it does not generate tricks!!

Take note of the above sentence – I've written it in just about every news-sheet that I've ever written but even one of the ‘best' players in the club seems to fail to comprehend it.

When you open 1NT you have said it all – partner is the captain.
The sequence 1NT - 2 - 2 - 2/ is weak and opener should pass.
The above sequence shows 5 cards in the major bid – it is taking a view (gamble) if you have only 4.
Obey The LAW. 5 + 3 = 8, so the two level. North bidding 3 here is asking for a minus.
Gambling with Garbage Stayman with the incorrect shape is just that – gambling.
  And a little more about 5-4 major suit hands opposite 1NT. With a weak hand, bid as above (Stayman and then the 5 card suit). With a strong hand you can bid Stayman and then jump or else you can use a transfer and then bid the 4 card major. Both of these are generally considered to be game forcing but I guess that you could use one of them as invitational if you have another way to show 5-5 in the majors. All of the options are discussed in detail in the No Trump bidding book. The best (only real) solution is to play Quest transfers.  
Hand D Hand E

Now I have made my views pretty clear. Sequences (a) and (b) are weak and opener is expected to pass. This is also the generally accepted view. So with Hand D pass is automatic. But what about Hand E? Now this is a far better hand, especially in support of 's.

AK10 AK10
A105 A105
982 98 So would 3 be acceptable with Hand E?
AQ97 AQ972 I still don't really like it but concede that there is a decent case for it.
  All aspects of Stayman are covered in the NoTrump bidding book.  
  Pattaya Bridge Club -
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