Good to see you all again. My sessions are where I try to help you learn in a non-competitive, mutually helpful environment. With jokes. It is where you come to make mistakes, try things out and see what works. You should be pushing the envelope a bit. You should be sticking the stamp on it and seeing where it goes. Mistakes are not “bad”. They are part of learning through experience. Just keep an eye on yourself and make sure you don’t keep making the SAME mistakes…
And so to …
The Myriad Faces of 1NT
Over the many long years gestation of bridge a bid of 1NT has come to be the way to simply express the value of a hand; both its specific shape and narrow limit of high card points (HCP).
It can be used by opener, responder, overcaller, or even as a rebid. But in each case it will carry a different meaning. These different meanings need to be learnt as they are the cornerstone of any bidding structure. Just as when partner opens 1NT you know they have a balanced hand (4443, 4432, 5332) and 12 - 14 HCP, so when partner does NOT open 1NT you know they do not have this combination of shape and point count.
1NT = 12 - 14 HCP, balanced
Do not underestimate the pre-emptive value of this bid. Also be aware that a surprising number of partnerships have never discussed a proper defence to it either. So good is it as a mini pre-empt that some serious players now open 1NT with 10 - 12 HCP. (I do not recommend this at all!!)
1NT = 15 - 17 HCP, balanced
The reason you need more HCP as overcaller is that the opposition have already started their conversation. They have passed information like cold war spies in Berlin. If you’re going to butt in you need to be better armoured. The other reason is that if you hold 15 - 17 HCP and opener has 12+ HCP then that’s at least 12 HCP you know your partner doesn’t have. The two people yet to bid are now scrapping like mangy Delhi dogs over a maximum of 11 - 13 HCP between them. If the player on your left has rather smugly got them all in his hand – you’re in for a tough time.
1NT = 6 - 9 HCP, any shape whatsoever
If partner opens 1S and you have 6 - 9 HCP you cannot bid at the 2-level (you would promise 10 HCP) but you MUST bid. All you can do is 1NT even with this nonsense:
Q 10 x
K J x x x x
Tough but true. You’ll pass any 2-level rebid from partner, except 2C when you bid 2D and partner now knows you have a rubbish hand, no fit, but with SIX diamonds.
As I’ve said before – endlessly – if you can respond with a 4 card major at the one level, then do so. You can bid 1NT later:
1C - 1H
1S - 1NT!
What To Remember
It is your job to tell your partner what you have so partner can make decisions. 1NT in all its guises is a very handy tool. Used properly it will sharpen your sequences and get you to better contracts.