Bridge Tips No 11

Responding to a 1N Opening Bid

The basic responses to an opening bid of 1N are:
 2D/H/SWeak take-outs, MUST be passed.
 2NBalanced game-try, 11-12 points.
 3C/3DSlam-try, 5 card+ suit.
 3H/SGame-force, 5card+ suit.
 3NBalanced, 13 points.
 4NQuantitative slam-try, opener passes or bids 6N.


Stayman is used to locate a 4-4 major suit fit after partner has opened 1N. Its use implies that the 2C bidder has at least one 4 card major suit, except as explained below ('Weak Take-out into Clubs').
With no 4 card major, opener bids 2D, with one 4 card major opener bids 2 of his suit and with both majors opener bids 2H.
Note that if no major fit is found, responder must bail out into 2N and, therefore, must normally have at least 11 points before embarking on Stayman. (But see 'Stayman with Fewer than 11 Points' below).

Weak Take-out into Clubs

Note that when using Stayman it is no longer possible to make a weak take-out into 2C. This problem can be overcome by bidding 2C initially but then, whatever partner responds, bidding 3C. Forcing to the 3 level with a weak hand is not an ideal solution and it will often be better to grit one's teeth and pass 1N.

Stayman with Fewer than 11 Points

There are two exceptions to the rule that one must have at least 11 points before embarking on Stayman.
1. With 5-4 in the majors and 2. With 4450 or 4441 hands.
In the former case, assuming opener bids 2D, responder bids his 5 card suit which is then a weak take-out. In the latter case responder simply passes whatever opener bids.

Game-try in a Major

A responding hand with a 5+ card major and 10-12 points is too strong for a weak take-out of 2H or 2S but not strong enough for a forcing to game bid of 3H or 3S. The way to show such hands is to first bid 2C (ostensibly Stayman) but then, whatever opener bids, bid 3 of your 5 card major. Except that if opener bids 2H in response to 2C and your suit is spades, 2S is sufficient to show a game-try hand because with a weak hand with spades, responder would have made an immediate weak take-out of 2S.