Competing over the Opponents 1NT

I. Competing over 1NT only requires weak 2-bid strength

What are your side’s chances of making a game when an opponent opens 1NT? Well, there are only 24 high card points left, so even if your side has all of them, which is unlikely, some distribution points will be required to get your side up to the 26 points needed for game.

So if you bid over their 1NT, it is because you want to contest the part-score.

When the opponents open 1NT and everyone passes, your chances of getting a good score are not likely. If you can make 110 your way in a major and they go down one or make it, then you are wrong to let them play it. If they are making and you are down one non-vulnerable, you are also wrong to pass it out.

When it is their hand for game, you take away their ability to bid Stayman or transfer by bidding. Also if they double you, frequently the penalty they collect is smaller than the plus score they would get for their game.

How can you tell when to bid? Well, you should always bid with a hand that would open a weak two-bid. Your suit quality should be good vulnerable. If your hand is marginal, then if you hold a singleton, bid, otherwise pass. The odds that your partner has 2 or more cards in your suit are quite high; therefore if you have a 6 card suit you will usually have an 8 card fit, so bidding has some safety. What about a 5 card suit ? This is more dangerous, but with a good suit go ahead.

Is it different in pass-out seat? Yes, strain to bid with a long suit in pass-out seat no matter how weak your hand is. After all, partner is never going to lead it if you pass. A reasonable 5 card suit is a more likely bid in pass-out than in direct chair.

Is jumping to the 3 level still preemptive ? Yes, but it is important to have a decent suit since it is easy for them to double for penalties.

Exercise 1. Left hand opponent opens 1NT, 16-18, and you hold the following hands, non-vulnerable versus vulnerable:

Would you bid in direct seat ? Would you bid in pass-out seat ? Would you bid vulnerable ?

 S:543  S:K76  S:AKQJ1074  S:9  S:KJ9873
 H:J10987  H:KQ543  H:87  H:QJ10765  H:84
 D:32  D:K532  D:3  D:K72  D:96
 C:K54  C:7  C:J98  C:J87  C:865
Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____
Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__
Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____

II. Conventional Bids over their 1NT: Landy and Cappelletti

Major suits, as usual, are more important than minor suits, when competing over the opponents 1NT. The reason for this is that often when you are making, they would have been going down and +110 is better than +100 or + 50. If they are vulnerable, down one is plus 100 for your side; but making 2? is only plus 90; so often when you hold a minor, defending is the better proposition.

When you have 5-4 distribution, the chance that your side has an 8 card fit is quite high, but if you bid your 5 card suit you will lose the 4-4 fit. It clearly would be nice to have a way to indicate this hand type to partner.

The first convention devised for this purpose was Landy; that’s Stayman for the opposition. If your right-hand opponent opens 1NT a bid of 2? asks partner to bid a major; it usually shows a hand that is 5-4 or 5-5 in the majors.

A better convention however is Cappelletti, which lets you show all your 5-4 hands which include a 5 card major. Thus allowing you to take a bid whenever you have a reasonable 5 card major with the safety of escaping to your other suit. This is done as follows:

 

  • 2 C a 1 suited hand (usually not clubs, with a 6 card suit)
  • 2 D both majors: 5-5, 5-4, or 4-5
  • 2 H a 5 card heart suit with a 4 card minor
  • 2 S a 5 card spade suit with a 4 card minor
  • 2NT both minors 5-5+ (still the unusual NT)

The main problem with this convention is remembering that 2 of a major shows a 2 suited hand. Partner bids 2NT if she would prefer to play in the minor.

Exercise 2. Right hand opponent opens 1NT, 16-18, and you hold the following hands, non-vulnerable, make a bid playing the Cappelletti system over 1NT

 

 S:543  S:K762  S:AQ674  S:98  S:KJ9873
 H:J10987  H:KQ543  H:8  H:QJ10765  H:84
 D:32  D:K5  D:K432  D:K7  D:96
 C:K54  C:75  C:J98  C:J87  C:J65
Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____
Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__
Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____
 S:K854  S:73  S:AK674  S:AJ1098  S:K9873
 H:J10987  H:KQ743  H:87  H:QJ1076  H:AQ54
 D:2  D:K534  D:743  D:K7  D:96
 C:KQ4  C:75  C:J98  C:7  C:J6
Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____ Direct____
Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__ Pass-out__
Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____ Vul ____

III. Responding to partner’s Cappelletti bid

Unless you have an enormous distributional fit, game is just not in the picture. Say you have a balanced 18 count, that just means that partner has bid on 6 points. In the rare case where your hand is worth a game try you bid 2NT, just as you would over a weak 2 bid.

Normal responses are:

 

    • To 2 C a one suited hand (usually not clubs, with a 6 card suit)
      • 2 D asks partner to bid their suit (or pass with diamnods s)
      • Other bids are natural and non-forcing except 2NT, game try
    • 2 D both majors: 5-5, 5-4, or 4-5
      • responder normally bids 2 of their better major )
      • jumping to 3 of a major is pre-emptive with 4 trump and usually a singleton somewhere
      • Other bids are natural and non-forcing except 2NT, game try

Over 2 of either major showing a 5 card major suit with a 4 card minor:

    • 2NT asks which minor suit (return to major next is a game try)
    • Raising to 3 of a major is pre-emptive with 4 trump
    • Other bids are natural and non-forcing
  • Over 2NT both minors 5-5+ (still the unusual NT)
    • Responder bids their better minor at the appropriate level
    • Other bids are natural and non-forcing

Answers:

Exercise 1
N N N Y Y
Y Y Y Y Y
N same same Y not direct
Exercise 2
P 2 D 2 S 2 C 2 C
2 C 2 D 2 S 2 C 2 C
P P P P/2 C in P.O. P/2 C in P.O.
2 D P 2 C 2 D 2 D
2 D 2 H 2 C 2 D 2 D
P/2 D in P.O P/2 H in P.O P 2 D P/2 D in P.O.

(P.O. = pass out seat)

 

One thought on “Competing over the Opponents 1NT

  1. kitty Post author

    A newer version of this lesson with the answers is in the DOWNLOADS section of this web site under “Bridge Lecture Handouts”

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