Responding to 1NT Opening Bid

Your partner has opened with a bid of 1NT, which means that he holds a balanced hand (5-3-3-2, 4-4-3-2, or 4-3-3-3 card distribution) with 15 – 18 high-card points (HCP). Your response depends on both your HCP and card length in the major suits (Hearts and Spades). Even with 0 HCP but with a 5-card Major, you cannot PASS his bid. The decision tree below shows all your possible responses.

With more than 6 HCP, the basic response to 1NT consists of one of the following:

  1. With a 4-card Major → Bid 2♣ (Stayman Convention asking your opening partner for his 4-card major); if there is a suit match, together the partnership will have at least 8 trump cards;
  2. With a 5-card Major → Transfer the bid to the opener by bidding the suit below your 5-card Major; this allows the opener who expectedly has the stronger hand between you two to be the Declarer and thus, will not show his hand during play;
  3. With less than 4 cards in either Major suit → Raise the bid in NT.

With at least 10 HCP, you as the responder knows that the partnership has 25 total HCP, which is sufficient for game in either in the Majors or NT. Your responses of a raise in NT or jump raises in a suit indicate to the opener that together you should aim for game.

The responses recommended here ensures that the dummy will be the weaker hand of the partnership.

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