Quick summary

Use the precision of the opening 1NT to guide your partner. You'll always need 11+ HCP:

With a certain Major game, bid it

With one 5-card Major:

With a 5 or 6 card minor, head towards NT

With great strength, bid 3 (not 4)


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Bridge Venue

Example Deal
S K 8 3
H K 5
D A 3 2
C K 10 9 7 6
Example Deal
Dealer: West
Vuln: NS

Choice of suit in a game going hand.
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«  0035  »

Responder 1st bids, after 1NT, 11+ unbalanced

OK, so game could be on.  Tell your partner.

This page assumes you do not use Stayman or Transfers. (See notes below).

Indicate your suit and your strength

The quick summary to the left is worth studying. Your partner has told you almost everything about his hand. Time for you to spell things out. The table below also gives more detail.

2-level bid. Does it mean Game on or not ?

A 2-level suit bid it means "partner, stop bidding" ! You are very weak, and you have just rescued opener out of 1NT.

3-level bid. Does it mean Game on or Slam on ?

The 4-level bid, although strong, is actually weaker than a 3-level bid. It's a shut-out bid meaning "Game, but no further".

The 3-level bid is forcing and means either Game is on, or it could be that I'm very strong and Slam could be on - clarification can be made the next time round after the "Game" has been bid, using either 4NT Blackwood or a cue bid.

Responders can be assisted in the process by a wise opener who realises that a three-level bid by a non-transfer player can mean one of two things:

  • I've got 5 cards exactly and I'm up for game
  • I've got 5 cards or more, and I'm up for Slam

(It cannot mean 6-cards, since responder would have bid game directly).

Opener's rebid

Accordingly, if opener has 3-level support, thus guaranteeing an 8-card fit, then rather than simply bidding 4 of the Major suit, opener can then tell his partner a bit more about his hand:

  • My hand is the weaker type of hand: bid 4 of the Major
  • My hand is suitable for a Slam: cue bid the "cheapest" Ace

A stronger type of opener hand will contain two of the following 3 features:

  • 4-card support, rather than 3 (or 2!)
  • maximum HCP (14)
  • an outside doubleton, for use in ruffing

The extra information can then be used by responder to decide whether to press on to investigate Slam.

35. You have an UN-balanced hand, with >11 HCP
HCP points situation intermediate + players elementary
11-12 23-26 HCP combined With a 4-card Major, bid Stayman, whether balanced or not. With a single 5+ card-major, Transfer. With 6 card-minor, Transfer. With 5-4 or 5-5 in the Majors, use Stayman. With a 5-card minor, bid 2 NT. (NB: with a ‘good' 11 pts bid 3 NT, with ‘bad' 11 pts invite with 2NT. Or use 2spade to indicate precisely 11 points, and 2NT to indicate 12 points).

With 5-card Major, bid 3, asking partner to choose game in NT or the Major. (Denies 4 in the other Major).

With 5-card minor, generally bid NT, either 2 or 3. (Bidding 3 suggests slam interest and no 4-card Major).

13-16 25+ assured With a 4-card Major, bid Stayman, whether balanced or not. With 5 card-major bid Transfer. With 6 card-major bid 4 (game) in the Major. With 6-card minor, bid 3 of the minor, to allow opener to choose 5 minor or 3NT.
17+ 31+ is possible You are strong, and your next bid must be forcing. 3 is stronger than 4 in this case, so bid 3 of your 5/6 card suit, Major or minor. You are in the driving seat. Your bid is game forcing and investigating suit Slam. Opener will choose 3NT if 2-card support, or 4 of your suit with 3-card support. Responder can then investigate, using Slam techniques. Difficult. The 3 bid serves both as a game force and as Slam interest. Time to learn Stayman & Transfers ?
19+ 31+ is certain As above: Bid 3 and Investigate Slam
21+ 35+ is possible As above: Bid 3 and Investigate Slam
Add to your customised cribsheet

The table above can seem like quite a lot to memorise. So don't ! You can work it all out.  Just remember the general principles.

For example, with a 6 card suit you are guaranteed 8 cards in total, so if the points look good, it makes sense to bid to game if it's a Major.  The logic is similar for a 5-card suit. And since you know that your partner can't have more than 14 points, there's no chance of missing a suit Slam unless you have 17 points.

Minors of course are harder to play in, and since length in a minor can be useful in NT, steer to NT if you have length but don't have enough points for a minor game (around 28).

Points   If Transfers not being used (please try to learn them !)
11+ 5-card Major 3heart, 3spade.  23HCP and 7-card guaranteed.  So invite to game by bidding 3 of Major.  Opener does his sums to decide game or not: if game he decides whether the Major or NT (or declining the invitation, passes). If  you're playing transfers, it's a bit different. Note that with Transfers, you don't need this 3 level response to 1NT.  Instead, with Transfers, any 3 of a suit bid is used to show strong hands with Slam interest.
6-card Major 4heart, 4spade. ("must have 8 card match"), 9 & 23 likely, 8 and 23 guaranteed. OK, not 25, but your two short suits will make up the difference, so bid 4. (Note also: 6/2 trump distribution better than 4/4). This is a limit bid.  If you are stronger, then..
13+ 6-card Major 4heart, 4spade.  Game guaranteed (8-card, 25 point). Opener must pass.
Slam interest 5-card Major or minor 3. To indicate great strength (eg. 16+), after a weak 1NT opening, bid any 3 level suit bid (if using transfers). Unlike the bids above, this one is forcing to game, invitational to slam. Opener will choose 3NT if 2 card support, or 4 of the suit with 3card support. Responder can then investigate.
11+ 5-card minor For a minor, bid NT, because 7 of the suit and 25 points max is not enough for a minor game. The long minor can often be established in a NT game. (NB; with a ‘good' 11 pts bid 3 NT, with ‘bad' 11 pts invite with 2NT).
13+ 6-card minor OK, you've got the 8-card fit. But, for a minor game, need more strength (28), so let opener choose: bid 3 of the minor.  Opener can choose 3NT or 5 of the minor. With 2236 and good stoppers, you are still balanced, so bid NT.

Stayman and Transfers

Transfers are useful, flexible, and strongly recommended as soon as you've got the hang of basic bidding and Stayman. Beginners are at a disadvantage when it comes to indicating subtlety of strength around the crucial 11-12/13+ point border. "Transfers" allow you to be more more precise about strength and suit preference. As a result you can get to game more often without running the risk of failure, and you can avoid games that can't be made. Transfers also allow you to use 3 level bids for showing greater strength to investigate Slam..



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