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Quick summary

Bid 2club to find 8-card Major

. . .after 1NT opening, with 4-card Major & 11+ points.

Opener then reveals his 4-card Major count:

  1. none, bid 2diamond
  2. at least 1 in heart, bid 2heart
  3. only one in spade, bid 2spade

Responder then either:

  1. confirms any 8-card match, 3heartorspade=inviting, 4heartspade=game, or
  2. denies any match with 2 or 3NT.

Opener finally:

  1. with 14HCP, converts invitation to game, &
  2. with two 4-card Majors, converts a NT to the major

Other uses:

  1. weakness takeout transfer to 2 of anything but club
  2. weakness takeout to 3club
  3. with 2 Majors both any length 4+
  4. after 2NT

Don't use if you have

  1. a single 5-card Major
  2. singleton or void, except club


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

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

To play in NT or a suit ?
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«  0080  »

Basic Convention. Stayman after 1NT opening

Finding an 8-card Major match and getting to game

A coded method of replying to a 1NT opening that allows the two of you to find an 8-card Major match, and a potential game bid, even though neither player usually has a 5-card Major. (Playing for game in a 44-Major is usually easier than in NT).

Stayman also allows you to find a NT game if one is there.

How ?

Tell your partner that you (responder) have at least one 4-card Major and 11+ points by bidding a coded 2club. You have therefore told your partner that 23 HCP points are guaranteed, 25 possible, and you are fishing for a game. You want him to tell you which 4-card Majors he has.

(If the bid really was because you wanted to bid clubs, rebid 3club next round.)

Opener then rebids: 2diamond if he has no 4-card Majors; 2 Spades spade if he has just a Single 4-card Major in spade; and 2heart if he has either two 4-card Majors[2] or a single one in heart. (Remember: SSSingle for Spades).

Responder: You can now see any 8-card Major match if there is one, and select it, or the best if there are 2 of them. To choose how many tricks to bid for, calculate the guaranteed HCP strength of the combined hand. (Support this calculation with the “9-7-18 losing trick count” method). Seeing 25 HCPs, put into game (4). Seeing 23+, put into 3 to invite opener to decide on game: if opener has 14 points, he raises to game (1) .

On the other hand, if responder sees there is no 8-card Major match, then he reverts to NT, at the right level: 3NT if he can guarantee 25 HCPs, 2NT to invite opener to to raise if he has a maximum 14 HCPs (2) .

In summary

The responder's rebid is as follows:

  1. Opener bid a suit I like. Pass or raise that suit.
  2. Opener response was not what I wanted. Convert to 2 or 3NT, or jump-bid own strong suit.

Other uses of Stayman

  1. When you like anything except clubs, and therefore can deal with any response from opener, typically by passing assuming you are weakish.
  2. When you have a 6-card minor, as a means of achieving a minor suit transfer or takeout (you do need a 6-card minor because you'll end up at the 3-level).
  3. When you have 5-4 or 6-5 in the Majors. Don't use transfers, because you might miss a major match in your other long card Major suit. After a 2diamond reply, bid 2 of your longer Major if you are weak, or 3 if game is on.
  4. Again, when you have others patterns in the Major such as 5-5, 6-6. After a 2diamond denial, rebid 3diamond to show the extra length in both Majors, asking partner to choose their longer suit, hopefully 3-card. Don't use the 3club bid if you use that bid for a transfer to the minors.
  5. After a 2NT opening, with suitably reduced HCP requirement (4 instead of 11).

Stayman after the enemy intervenes

If there is an intervening “double” or other bid after your partner's NT opening, then Stayman and transfers are cancelled, and your bid becomes natural.

However, if they overcalled you can use use Lebensohl, or if they overcalled in a Major, you can also

  • bid their suit if you have enough for game and the other 4-card Major. For example
  1. 1NT 2heart 3heart

Case (1), a cue bid of the enemy's suit, means I have enough for game and a 4-card Spade suit. You are asking your partner for a 8-card Major match in Spades, or NT if not possible. It's unlikely you'd be seeking a fit in Hearts, with the enemy having 5 of them in one hand. If you had a 5-card Spade suit, you could simply bid 2spade.

If the enemy intervene after your Stayman 2club, the opener should bid as planned if possible. If not, he can wait for you the Stayman bidder to bid again. If you or your partner double their interference, it's for penalties. For example:

  1. 1NT pass 2club 2heart X
  2. 1NT pass 2club 2heart 2spade
  3. 1NT pass 2club 2heart pass pass X
  4. 1NT pass 2club 2spade 3heart
  • In case (1), opener is saying he has a 4-card suit in the overcalled Hearts. Responder can pass or switch to spades or NT.
  • In case (2), opener is saying he has a 4-card suit in the other Major, Spades. Again, responder can pass or switch.
  • In case (3), opener has no 4-card Major, but responder has a 5-card in the overcalled Major.
  • In case (4), opener has to have high HCP (14) to assert a 3-level bid, since he has potentially committed the partnership to a game in 3NT.

When not to use Stayman

When you are very strong.

If you have a 4441 or 4450 distribution, when you (responder) just pass. You don't want to end up in No Trumps with this kind of shape.

If you and partner play Transfers, don't use Stayman if you have a single 5+ card Major - use Transfers instead. They are better too whn you have just one suit.

  • If you don't use Transfers, then you can achieve almost the same effect with Stayman, but it makes things a bit more complicated, as follows: If the opener had “denied” having a 4-card Major, by bidding 2diamond, you (responder) at this point can rebid with 2heart or 2spade with 5-cards in either of these. This might point the opener to an 8-card match which he could bid to game, or invite to game. Another way of doing this is to rebid 3diamond asking for a 3-card Major.
  • Beginners can use weakness takeout or bid 3 of the suit, depending on strength.

(1) Leaving the bidding at opener's 2M, or switching to 2 of the higher Major has a special meaning for more advanced players. So don't leave it at the 2 level unless you understand what that means - namely a weakness takeout, or, if you switch to 2 of the other major, a weakness takeout with flexibility, implying a 5-4 holding.

(2) If responder does not find an 8-card match, and also reverts to NT, opener can bid 3spade next round, since by inference there must be a match.


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