East-West Vulnerable

East-West Vulnerable

Opening notrump with a five-card major

This ends the series on notrump openings. It is quite fitting that a player becomes predictable to his partner through the consistent use of descriptive bids. 1 NT is one such very descriptive bid as long as it is not mistreated.

One should have 15-17 and a balanced hand.

Could this contain a five-card major?

Yes, but rarely. With 15-17 points and a five-card major, there is often a re-bid problem especially with 15 points. A distribution such as a 5-3-3-2 hand is one such example.

The problem has a solution if the partner can show when they hold 10 points by bidding a new suit at the two-level or by bidding 2NT for his second response after partner opens a suit instead of notrump.

However, notrump cannot be used on a regular basis with a five-card major unless your partnership can ask for a five-card major.

This convention is called Puppet Stayman. I am assuming one is using regular Stayman so a player must treat the five-card major as a four-card one when partner bids Stayman.

One should rarely open 1 NT with a five-card major unless the suit has one honour or less. Also the hand should have three cards in the other major, in case partner transfers there and passes.

Can 1 NT have two doubletons?

Yes, but also in rare occasions. The doubletons must be strong with one and a half stopper at least.

The bidding:

With 15 points and a balanced hand, North opens 1NT hiding his five hearts. He does have three spades, and his hearts have only one honour.

South transfers to spades and invites through 2NT showing a five-card suit and 8 or 9 HCP’s. North, with three spades and a minimum, bids three spades to sign off.

However, South’s doubleton may be working and he bids game.

The contract: Four spades

The play:

East leads the Ace of diamonds and cashes the king before switching to a trump. He can’t lead a club and setting up declarer’s side suit, hearts, is also a poor choice. Declarer draws trump and attacks hearts. West leads a club. North refuses the finesse and pitches two clubs on the hearts.

The result: Four spades making for +420


Warren Watson is an American Contract Bridge League silver life master and accredited teacher.

The Warfield resident created the Kootenay Jewel Bridge Club with duplicate games on Mondays at noon.