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Contract Bridge
LESSON 6
NT Responses to 1 in a Suit Opening bids

  1. Bidding Priorities
  2. NT Responses to 1 in a Suit Openings
  3. Opener's reply after a NT Response
  4. Developing a long suit
  5. Deals 9 to 12
  6. Quiz - Answers - Review

    Bidding Guide : 2 - 4 - 5 - Facts 4



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BR 6.1 - Bidding Priorities

Guided by the general strategy (of scoring the maximum number of points with a minimum number of tricks) bidding priorities after the opening bid in a suit are :

After a 1 Heart or 1 Spade opening :

  1. Raise Partner's major suit

  2. Bid a new 4+ card suit

  3. Bid No Trumps

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After a 1 Diamond or 1 Club opening :

  1. Bid a new 4+ card suit (but prefer to bid 2NT or 3NT when balanced with no 4-card major)

  2. Bid No Trumps

  3. Raise Partner's minor suit

Following these bidding priorities ensures that you only end up playing a 'cheap' minor suit contract when the more profitable options (in NT, Hearts and Spades) are not feasible.

This Lesson deals with the NT responses after a 1 in a suit opening bid.
Bidding a new suit (after a 1 in a suit opening) is dealt with in Lesson 7.


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BR 6.2 - NT Responses to 1 in a Suit Openings

After a 1 in a Suit opening, the NT Responses are :

  • 1NT = 6 - 10 points, unable to bid a new 4 card suit at the 1 level (see Lesson 7)

  • 2NT = 13 - 15 points with a balanced hand (= forcing to Game)

  • 3NT = 16 - 18 points with a balanced hand

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The Response of 2NT is forcing to Game. (There are at least 26 points in the combined hands !) This means that neither player may pass until a Game contract is reached.

Here are some typical examples of when to use a NT response.


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Hand 1
You have 9 points and a balanced hand.

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  1. After a 1NT opening ---- bid 2NT = 8-9 points and balanced.

  2. After a 1♠   opening ---- bid 1NT = 6-10 points and no trump support.

  3. After a 1♥   opening ---- bid 2♥  = 6-10 points with 3+ card trump support.

  4. After a 1♦   opening ---- bid 1NT = 6-10 points - prefer to bid NT over raising Partner's minor suit.

  5. After a 1♣   opening ---- bid 1♦  = 6+ points with 4+ card Diamond suit. (Some players prefer here also 1NT over bidding a new 4 card minor suit.)


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Hand 2
You have 7 points (6 HCPs + 1 length point in Hearts !) and a semibalanced hand .

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  1. After a 1NT opening ---- bid Pass = 0-7 points.

  2. After a 1♠   opening ---- bid 1NT = 6-10 points.
    You cannot bid Hearts at the 1 level and have not enough points (less than 11) to bid 2♥.

  3. After a 1♥ opening ---- bid 2♥ = 6-10 points with 3+ card trump support.

  4. After a 1♦ opening ---- bid 1♥ = 6+ points - prefer to bid a new suit over raising Partner's minor suit.

  5. After a 1♣ opening ---- bid 1♥ = 6+ points with a 4+ card Heart suit.
    Always bid your longest suit first. You have 5 Hearts and only 4 Diamonds.
    (If you had only 4 Hearts bid your Diamonds first. Always bid 4-card suits "up the line".)


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Hand 3
You have 14 points and a balanced hand.

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  1. After a 1NT opening ---- bid 3NT = 10-14 points with a balanced hand.

  2. After a 1♠   opening ---- bid 3♠ = 13+ points with 3+ card trump support.

  3. After a 1♥   opening ---- bid 2NT = 13-15 points with no trump support, but a balanced hand.

  4. After a 1♦   opening ---- bid 2NT = 13-15 points with a balanced hand - prefer to bid 2NT over raising Partner's minor suit.

  5. After a 1♣   opening ---- bid 2NT= 13-15 points with a balanced hand - prefer to bid 2NT over bidding a new minor suit.


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Hand 4
You have 17½ points and a balanced hand.

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  1. After a 1NT opening ---- bid 6NT = 16-18 points with a balanced hand.

  2. After a 1♠   opening ---- bid 3NT = 16-18 points with no trump support, but a balanced hand.

  3. After a 1♥   opening ---- bid 3♥ = 13+ points with 3+ card trump support.

  4. After a 1♦   opening ---- bid 3NT = 16-18 points with a balanced hand - prefer to bid 3NT over raising Partner's minor suit.

  5. After a 1♣   opening ---- bid 3NT = 16-18 points with a balanced hand - prefer to bid 3NT over bidding a new minor suit.

For hands with 11 - 12 points and trump support for Partner's major suit (3+ cards), bid a new suit first. This is forcing Partner to bid again. At your next turn to bid raise his suit to the 3-level (more about this in Lesson 7).


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BR 6.3 - Opener's Reply to a NT Response

When Partner makes a NT response after your 1 in a suit opening bid he denies 3-card trump support for your major suit, and in most cases does not have 4 cards in the unbid major suit(s). brillqh.gif
It is therefore best to play the contract in No Trumps, unless :

  1. your have an unbalanced hand -
    In this case bid a new suit, or rebid your first suit (provided you have one more card in that suit than you promised with your first bid).

  2. your have an semibalanced hand with a 6 card major suit -
    In this case rebid your major suit at the appropriate level.

Partner must be balanced to bid 2NT or 3NT, and always has at least 2 cards in any suit. Therefore if you have a 6 card suit you have a trump fit in that suit and must revaluate your hand counting shortage points.

The various replies to Partner's NT responses are :

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(Blackwood Convention)

Here are some examples of bidding with 1 in a suit opening hands after NT responses.


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Hand 5
You have 13 points and are balanced = a minimum opening hand.

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You open 1♦.
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 5 is :
  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply Pass
    With 13 + 10 = 23 points maximum there is no chance for a Game contract.

  2. Partner responds 2NT     You reply 3NT
    With 13 + 13 to 15 = 26 to 28 points you must bid a Game contract.

  3. Partner responds 3NT     You reply Pass
    With 13 + 16 to 18 = 29 to 31 points maximum there is no chance for a Slam contract.



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Hand 6
You have 14½ points (1 length point in Diamonds) and are unbalanced = minimum opening hand.

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You open 1♦.
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 6 is :
  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply 2♦
    Partner denies a 4 card major suit.
    With 13 + 10 = 23 point maximum there is no chance for a Game contract, but with your unbalanced hand it is safer to play in Diamonds. Partner should Pass.

  2. Partner responds 2NT     You reply 3♦
    This alerts Partner that you have 5 Diamonds and an unbalanced hand. (Each time a player rebids his suit he shows 1 card more in that suit than previously promised.)
    With only 2 Diamonds in his hand Partner will bid 3NT, but with 3 Diamonds or more he must bid 5♦ (In this case, counting shortage points, your hand is now worth 16 points.)

  3. Partner responds 3NT     You reply 4♦
    Same situation as II above. With only 2 Diamonds Partner will probably bid his 4-card suit.
    With 3 Diamonds or more he bids 5♦, which you (now with 16 points) can raise to 6♦.



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Hand 7
You have 15 points (2 length points in Hearts !) and are unbalanced = a minimum opening hand.

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You open 1♥.
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 7 is :
  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply 2♥
    Partner denies a 4 card major suit.
    With your unbalanced hand it is much better to play in Hearts.
    (Partner may reply with 3♥, if he has 2 card trump support and 8-10 points. If so bid Game : 4♥)

  2. Partner responds 2NT (showing 13-15 pts)     You reply 4♥
    Partner is balanced and must have at least 2 Hearts. There is therefore a trumpfit. Counting shortage points you now have 13 HCP + 4 SP = 17 points. Bid straight to Game in Hearts.

  3. Partner responds 3NT (showing 16-18 pts)     You reply 6♥
    Same situation as II above. You now have 17 points and between 33 and 35 in the combined hands, enough for a Small Slam.
    Bid therefore 6♥.


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Hand 8
You have 16½ points (1 length point in Diamonds) and are semibalanced = a strong opening hand.

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You open 1♦.
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 8 is :

  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply 2NT
    Partner denies a 4 card Heart suit. Your 2NT invites Partner to bid 3NT with 8-10 points and to Pass with only 6 or 7 points.

  2. Partner responds 2NT     You reply 3NT
    Partner denies a 4 card Heart suit. You have 30-32 points, which is enough for Game (3NT), but not enough for Slam.

  3. Partner responds 3NT     You reply 6NT
    You have 33 - 35 points in the combined hands. This is enough for a Small Slam.



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Hand 9
You have 21 points and are balanced = a maximum opening hand.

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You open 1♦.
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 9 is :

  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply 3NT
    You have 27-31 points in the combined hands. This is enough for a Game contract (3NT).

  2. Partner responds 2NT     You reply 6NT
    You have 34-36 points in the combined hands. This is enough for a Small Slam contract (6NT).

  3. Partner responds 3NT     You reply 7NT     (or the Blackwood Convention : 4NT)
    You have 37-39 points in the combined hands. This is probably enough for a Grand Slam contract (7NT).


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Hand 10
You have 16 points (14 HCPs +1 LP in Spades + 1 LP in Hearts) and are unbalanced = a strong opening hand.

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You open 1♠. (With two 5 card suits bid the higher ranking one first (see Bidding Guide p.10).
After Partner's NT response your reply with Hand 10 is :

  1. Partner responds 1NT     You reply 3♥
    This alerts Partner that you have an unbalanced hand with length in both major suits (at least 5-5). If Partner bids again, he is showint 8-10 points. He will raise to Game if he holds 3 card support in one of you major suits.

  2. Partner responds 2NT     You reply 4♥
    "You Beauty !!" (as they say in Australia). Partner is balanced and can only hold one doubleton. His response of 2NT after your 1♠ opening shows a doubleton in Spades. He must therefore have at least 3 Hearts. This means a trumpfit in Hearts (count your shortage points) and plenty of points (your 17 + 13-15 = 30-32 points). Go straight to 4♥.

  3. Partner responds 3NT     You reply 6♥
    Same applies as under II above. You have a trumpfit in Hearts and 17 + 16-18 = 33-35 points. Bid Small Slam.


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BR 6.4 - Developing a long Suit

More often than not your sure winners in a No Trump contract do not add up to all the tricks you need to fulfil your contract. Usually you have to develop some additional tricks to get there.
In such cases remember two important things :

  1. your longest suit (in the combined hands) usually provides the best option of developing extra tricks, even if several of the Honour cards are missing.

  2. develop your extra tricks first, before you cash all your sure winners.
    The sure winners in your hand ensure that you keep control of the game when you lose some early tricks in the suit from which you develop extra tricks.

The following hand contains 6 sure winners, not enough for your contract of 3NT.
Where do the extra tricks come from ?

Declarer (W)
- A 10
- A Q J 2
- K Q 2
- J 9 5 3
Dummy (E)
- K J 2
- 10 6
- A 6
- 10 8 7 6 4 2

From the Clubs of course.
You hold all ten cards in the suit from the Jack downwards. Only three cards are missing, the Ace, King and Queen. According to the statistics these three cards will be divided 2-1 between your two Opponents 78% of the time.

Therefore after gaining the opening lead (play low in Dummy with a Spade or Heart lead, the Ace with a Diamond lead), play immediately the Jack of Clubs. If both Opponents follow suit, lead Clubs again after regaining the lead, and four extra Club tricks are established.

If only one player follows suit on the first Club lead, you need to reassess your strategy. Much depends on what suit the Opponents are leading next, however you still have an excellent chance of making your contract.


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BR 6.5 - Deals 9 to 12

Deals 9 to 12 cover bidding and play dealt with in this lesson.



   Easy to Remember
  • There are 52 cards in a pack

  • You need half the above number = 26 points for a Game contract in NT, H or S      

  • You need half the above number = 13 points to make an Opening bid

  • You need half the above number = 6 points to make a Response



BR 6.6 - Quiz 6 - Answers - Review

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Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.