1NT - Stayman - Part 2
Game-Going 5-4 and 4-5 Hands
Suppose that we are 5-4 in the majors with game-going values. How do we investigate the best game? For example, we hold:
The straightforward approach is to use Stayman, and, if Opener rebids 2♦, we jump to 3♠. Partner will usually bid 4♠ if he has 3 of the suit, otherwise he will try 3NT. See a slight defect to this method? Yes, if we end up in 4♠ it will be played from the wrong side, normally we would prefer for the 1NT opener to be Declarer. Thatís why Smolen was invented. Follow the link to this convention if you like, but simply put, Smolen works as follows:
When Partner opens 1NT, and we are 5-4 in the majors with game values, we bid Stayman,
and, if Partner rebids 2♦, then we bid 3 of our four-card, allowing Partner to play in 4 of
Thereís a corollary to the above. If we use Stayman for the good 5-4 and 4-5 hands, then what does this auction mean?
The transfer shows 5 Spades, and the 3♥ bid presumably does not show a 4-card suit (thatís a Stayman auction) so it makes sense for 3♥ here to be a 5-card suit. Itís not the only interpretation for the bid, but we think that itís a sensible one.
Invitational 5-4 and 4-5 Hands
Two cases to consider. First, letís suppose that we hold this hand:
Here, the prescribed procedure is to bid Stayman, and, if Partner rebids 2♦, we rebid 2♠. This specific sequence shows this narrowly defined hand type Ö 5-4 in the majors, invitational values.
Same hand, but with the majors reversed. This is not a Stayman hand at all Ö transfer to Hearts then bid 2♠ Ö showing specifically 4-5 in the majors and invitational values.
Weak 4-4 and 5-4 and 4-5 Hands
These hands are more difficult to get right, often there is some guesswork or luck involved. Here are some sample hands opposite an opening 1NT:
♠ J753 This one looks like an excellent candidate for Garbage Stayman.
♥ 9765 We really donít fancy our chances in 1NT, so why not try to
♦ 76 improve matters in 2 of a major. About half the time Opener will
♣ T87 will oblige us by having a 4-card major, the rest of the time weíll
bid 2♥ over 2♦, planning to play in a 4-3 fit in Openerís major.
Of course, once in a while, Opener will be 2-2-4-5 for his 1NT
opening, and weíll be in a 4-2 fit, but such is life!
This is the so-called Garbage Stayman. Responder bids Stayman out of the desire to escape from 1NT, rather than initiating a constructive auction.
♠ J753 Again we use Stayman, and again we have garbage, but our plan
♥ 9765 here is not to invoke Garbage Stayman. No, weíll pass whatever
♦ 76543 Opener rebids, even if it is 2♦. And, if we were 4-4-4-1, we
♣ would bid the hand the same way Ö yes, we might find Opener
with 3-3-2-5, and be in another 4-2 fit, but thatís a chance that we
are willing to take.
♠ 87653 What a miserable hand! There is no guaranteed method for
♥ 9765 playing this in your better major fit. You can transfer to Spades
♦ 76 if you like, but thatís a wild guess, you might miss a 4-4 Heart
♣ T6 fit. Then again, you could go the Garbage Stayman route, and
end up in the 4-3 Heart fit instead of the 5-3 Spade fit. We did
say that these hands are impossible to get right all of the time,
♠ JT986 Now we have a bit of stuffing in our 5-card suit, and our choice
♥ 9765 would be to transfer to Spades, giving up on Hearts. Even if it is a
♦ 76 5-2 fit those Spade fillers will be worth some tricks.
♠ KJ54 Here, the situation is slightly different. Partner has 15-17, we have
♥ Q532 6 HCPís, so thereís no reason to tremble at the prospect of playing
♦ T96 1NT. The issue here is whether to gamble on Stayman, hoping for
♣ T4 a better major suit contract (hopefully 4-4, but sometimes 4-3
works fine, too). Our own preference is to try Stayman, but we
would not take issue with those who pass and let Partner play 1NT.
Roman Key Card Blackwood
How do you play this auction?
Our suggestion here is that you play this as Roman Key Card in Hearts.
For examples of Stayman from actual play, please follow this link to the Archives
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