Quick summary

Have you got 25 HCP for a 3NT game with your 15-17 balanced partner?

If you too are balanced, then, adding points for extra length (not shortage):

  1. add 15 to your HCP to find out. If yes, bid 3NT
  2. if not, add 17 HCP, and if that's 25 or more, invite to game with 2NT
  3. failing that, give up on NT

If you're unbalanced:

(Advanced players can use Checkback Stayman to find a Major fit)

After a 2NT opener's rebid, forced by our 2-of-a-suit first response


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade K Q 10 6 2
heart K 10 9 2
diamond 7
club 9 8 2
Example Deal
Dealer: South
Vuln: E-W

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p 1S p 1NT
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«  0063  »

Responder rebids. After opener's rebid of 1NT

Could game be on here? Is it your decision, or is it your partner's?

With his re-bid, partner has promised you a balanced hand and 15-17(1) HCP.

Think back: was your response bid at the one-level, or at the 2-level? (We're assuming it was a change-of-suit).

One-level change of suit

A one-level change promised 6 HCP minimum, but could be much more.

You now need to do the arithmetic:

  • if you've got 10+HCP, then your total team power is 25-27HCP+, and providing you've got no extreme weaknesses in an unbid suit, then a 3NT game-bid should be on;
  • but if you've only got 8HCP, and a 23-25HCP team total, you'll be looking for some shape to make up for the weakness; failing that you can invite your partner to go for game if he's at the top end of his 15-17 HCP range - by bidding 2NT;
  • with 6-7HCP, you'll generally pass (since 25HCP can't be there), but...
  • if your suit was a 6-carder then this means you've got a guaranteed 8-card fit. If it's a Major, then you'll probably want to re-bid it, especially if either
    • your 'shortage' points take you up to 25 points total, or
    • you've got a very short and unstopped suit
  • if your 6-card suit is a minor, then it might be better to steer the auction to No Trumps (long suits usually bring extra tricks, and making 3NT is two tricks easier to making than 5diamond/club).

A Two-level change of suit

At the two-level your partner can no longer re-bid 1NT, of course.

Your two-level change of suit will have alerted your partner to your stronger hand, 10+ HCP, guaranteeing sufficient HCP for a 3NT game-bid. So a re-bid by partner of the minimum NT at the 2 level, but not 3, must mean your partner wants to explore an alternative game bid, presumably in a Major.

How could that be ?

Perhaps he has an unbid 3-card Major (Heart), concealed by his 4-card 1Spade opening bid, and hopes you might have 5Hearts?

  • But in that case, you'd have bid them in your first bid.
  • That's because a change by you to a Major at the 2-level also guarantees a 5-card suit, so your knowledgable partner wouldn't need to re-bid NT if he had 3 of them. He could just bid game (4heart).
  • Unless he's trying to get the team an extra 10 points by playing to 4 in NT.

And, of course, if partner had both 4-card Majors, being a wise and experienced player (!) he would have opened 1Heart, so as not to obscure the Heart suit with a 1Spade bid.

The other possibility is that he wants to use the spare bidding space to give you a chance to get out of any dangers, and move to a 6-card suit, if you have one, by re-bidding it.

What if your first bid suit was a 5-card Major, not 4-card?

How can we tell partner about that nice long Spade suit?? - after all, he might easily have 3 of them.

One method is to switch to your 4-card suit, so your partner might deduce that your first suit was longer.

There can be problems with this, and you need to avoid going through the responder's barrier with fewer than 12 HCP.

Stayman and Transfers are used in response to a weak 1 No Trump (12-14 HCP) opening, in order to reveal 4-card and 5-card Majors. Similarly, there are techniques for finding 8-card Major fits after the opener's 1NT re-bid, but beware: - fewer players use them.

For the more accomplished bridg-ers, read the next bit...

Advanced: How to explore a Major fit after opener's 1NT re-bid ?

Use something called "Checkback Stayman".

You're responder. After partner's second bid of 1NT, 'Checkback' covers three types of hand of yours that might contain:

  1. an unbid 3-card Major (hidden by your first response in a 4 or 5-card minor).
  2. an unbid 4-card Major (hidden by your first response in a 5-card minor).
  3. a 5-card Major (your first bid only promised 4).

For each of these in turn, you might be asking yourself: is it possible that your partner has

  1. a 5-card 'same' Major
  2. a 4-card 'same' Major
  3. a 3-card 'same' Major

You know your partner has 15-17 HCP. If you can find an 8-card Major fit, then 8+ points in your hand could lead to 'game' in a Major, and 10+ certainly will. So let's 'checkback', with 2club.

Using the same numbers as in the list above, your partner will reply, depending on your previous 1st bid. If your first bid was:

  1. a minor, he'll bid a 5-card major if he has one
  2. a minor, again, he'll bid a 5-card major if he has one
  3. a Major, he'll support it now with only 3 cards

In all other cases he'll deny with diamonds diamond.

If he responds positively by bidding a/the Major, but chooses the 'wrong' one, you can then correct back to 2NT.

In case 2, where you had a 4-card Major (hidden by responding at first with your 5-card minor, with a bid of 1diamond): if your partner did have a 4-card Major fit, he would all-the-same have responded to your 'checkback' 2club with a 2 dimaonddiamond denial, since he didn't yet know that you had 4-cards. So after case 2 only, you can now re-bid with 2 of your 4-card Major. Your partner will then know that you have 4-cards, not just 3. He'll support if he has 4, but revert to either 2NT or 3NT if he doesn't. 3NT if he has 17HCP, 2NT if only 15.

(1) Not 15-16 HCP, unless your partner likes living in the past.

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).


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