Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Responses to weak notrump – what do you think

When you play strong notrump pretty well everyone has a sequence which is a game try looking for some help in a minor.  A typical hand might be

S Qx H xx Dx KJ10XXX Cx JXX

This is a hand that might make 3NT if partner fits diamonds.  Of course you are hoping that the opponents can’t take too many tricks before you take your nine.  If partner doesn’t have diamonds you will play in 3D.  A question which has come up recently is how does this change when you are playing 12-14 notrump or even 10-12 notrump.

One presumes that you need more high cards either as stoppers or as tricks playing 12-14.  So you might want something like

S KX H XX D KJ10XXX CX KXX  does that look right?  or maybe a seven card minor which might allow a bit less in high cards.

What about with 10-12 notrump how much does it change?  Is this type of auction still as useful. 

Now what if the opponents intervene.  Let’s take the auction 1NT-(2S) natural.  Playing strong notrump 2NT is usually used as Lebensohl so you have much less ability to invite in any denomination.  Now too you need to know about a spade stopper in addition to minor fillers.  Is it better to play 3C or 3D forcing here, looking for the best game.  If it is looking for minor fillers does the bid deny or promise a spade stopper. 

Is it worth it to play that you are looking for a maximum rather than specifically minor fillers in this auction.

My thinking (which I admit is a bit confused) at this point is that 3 of a minor here should deny a stopper.  It should be looking for fillers though.  So opener should only bid on with both a minor suit fit and a good spade stopper.  I think this approach works fine with any notrump range.  Your thoughts?


Greg EarnestMay 8th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I think that when the opponents interfere, you naturally lose the ability to do certain things like looking for stoppers when a minor fit could make 3NT. I’m not an expert, surely, but my opinion is that in that situation you have to decide, bidding-wise, whether you have tools to explore for slam or tools to search for game. The latter happens more often statistically, so I personally prefer bids that find game, eschewing bids that would explore for the higher contracts.

Having said that, I play that after a weak NT (which my regular partner and I play), a direct bid of 3m after interference is Inv. looking for a stopper (and looking for a max hand). 2NT is a Lebensohl trigger, allowing our partnership to sign-off in a minor (or any suit lower than overcaller’s).

Now, this takes away our ability to force 1NT opener to bid after interference (except for bidding a suit at the 3-level higher ranking than overcaller’s suit). So, we made a cuebid of overcaller’s suit game-forcing and asking for a stopper, and a 2NT trigger then a cuebid to ask for a 4-card other major (or any major if overcaller bid diamonds).

The only bad part about this system of responses is that sometimes after 2NT then a cuebid to ask for a major, you could end up in 3NT without a stopper; so, I usually only ask for the major when I have a stopper in the opponent’s suit.

lindaMay 20th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

You certainly can’t do everything.
Regarding your problem with stoppers and major asks:

We play that the direct cuebid asks for a major without a stopper and going through Lebensohl and then cuebidding asks for a major with a stopper. If you are worried about a stopper. With a stopper and a balanced hand we go through Lebensohl and bid 3NT without one we bid 3NT directly (no stopper). The only downside it that if neither of you have a stopper you are groping around at the four level for some place to play but at least opener knows you don’t have majors.

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