Quick summary

You know your partner's hand in considerable detail, so you can make some quick and bold decisions, ranging from pass to "game" to "Slam could be on".

You are not forced to reply. But any reply you make is forcing.

Thus a bid of 4 of a Major suit is limiting, 3 is for both weaker and stronger bids.

It's very much like replying to 1NT, but remember partner has 8 more HCP, and you have less bidding space.

Transfers are even more useful than usual !


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Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade J 10 7 5
heart 9 8 5
diamond A 2
club 7 6 3 2
Example Deal
You: South
Dealer: East
Vuln: all

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#1+<-- click the + to show/hide one possible Bidding Sequence
- - p p
p 2NT p ???

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#3+<-- click the + for ideas on the Opening Lead

«  0037  »

Responder 1st bids. After 2NT

37. Reply to 2NT opening (for Stayman & Transfers, see text)
Points 0-3 4-10 11-12 13+ 17+
- pass 3 NT 4 NT 6 NT 7 NT
Unbalanced (M=Major suit, m=minor suit)
6-card suit pass 4 Major 3 then explore Slam 6 M / m 7 M /m
5-card suit pass 3 Major 3 then explore Slam 6 M / m 7 M / m
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It's easy

This is an exciting moment, because a game is very likely and, depending on your hand, a Slam could be there for the taking. It's easy to respond to 2NT, because your partner has told you very precisely what he has. He's balanced, and he has 20-22 HCP, no more no less. Replying to 2NT is therefore very much like replying to 1NT, except

  • you must of course remember that your partner has 8 more HCP, and
  • since he's opened at the two level, you have less bidding space

These two differences have some consequences, apart from simply adjusting the arithmetic that you need to do in your head. Let's have a look.

Any reply is itself forcing. But you are not obliged to reply.

Exactly like replying to 1NT, but unlike replying to 2 of a suit, you are NOT forced to make any reply. However, if you do, any reply is exploratory to game, and forces the opener to rebid. So if you do reply, you are going to have at least 2 chances to speak.

As a further consequence, there is no "weakness takeout bid". Hey ! Weak ? One of you's already got half the pack ! (Remember that a weakness takeout reply to 1NT absolutely requires silence from the opener ! But any reply to 2NT is forcing.)

Less bidding space

Remember that when replying to 1NT, you can "invite" pretty partner to game by bidding 2NT (some people also have a 2spade reply as well). He will convert to a 3NT game if he is at the top of the range (i.e. 14 HCP), and pass if not. That's not possible when replying to an opening bid of 2NT, since that bid has already been taken. So you can't invite.

Thus, for the same reason, you need to be a little more certain to reply at all. Arithmetically you would expect that 3 HCP is required to reply positively (since 11HCP is the requirement when replying to1NT). But no, you need 4 HCP. With only 3 HCP, just pass.

You have all the cards!

What I mean is you have all the information. Just as with the 1NT opening, your partner has given you a very precise description of his hand, and so you can now pretty well figure out what the final contract should be. The remaining uncertainties about your partner's hand are mostly to do with the exact length of his various suits. So after your bid, she'll report back to you on this aspect.

Your options are either (1) pass, (2) go for game in NT, (3) go to a suit game, or towards one, (4) explore or invite to slam. You know what total strength is needed in each case, so you can decide which path to follow, simply by analysing your hand. Best of all though, include Stayman and Transfers in your range of responses.

Stayman and transfers

The reasons for wanting to use these two wonderful conventions still apply, only more so in the case of Transfers. If you are the first person to name a preferred suit, then all of your partners very strong cards will be laid down for the opposition to see. Much better to transfer. As mentioned above, you are going to need 4 HCP to use these conventions, but other aspects remain similar.


This supposes that you don't want to use Stayman and transfers. The table shows the options. The most interesting one is where you have a 5 or 6 card Major, and just enough points for game.

With 6 cards it's easy, because you know that you must have an 8-card match. That's because your partner's opening 2NT bid promised at least two cards in every suit. So you can simply bid directly to 4 of the Major.

With 5 cards you can't be sure if it's best to be in NT of your Major. so you bid 3 of your Major and leave the decision to your partner. If he has 3 of them, he'll convert to 4. With only 2 he'll switch to 3NT.

Big hands in a suit

What if you've got sufficient points to try for a Slam in your long Major ?

You can't bid 4 of them, since that will be interpreted as "Game and no more". Bidding 5 would use up all the bidding space. So, bid 3. When your partner comes back with either 3NT or 4 of the Major depending on the number of cards he has in your suit, as mentioned above, you can then make it clear that you are in fact very strong, by continuing the bidding in a Slam investigation.

Big hands in No Trumps

Again this is quite simple, and exactly the same as replying to 1NT with very strong cards, suitable adjusted for your partner's increased strength. You are looking for 33 or 37 HCP between you. Have a look at Slam bidding in NT.



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