1NT Opening - They Interfere
Here we look at how the 1NT opening side combats enemy interference.
5th January, 2011 None Vul
What are your methods in this situation?
- Some play Negative Doubles when the opponents overcall at the three-level over our 1NT opening. If that is available, we suppose that we’d overbid with a Double, and hope for the best. As it happens, North bids 3♠ and South gratefully passes (making 9 tricks unless the defense leads Diamonds and then fails to shift to Clubs … in that case it’s 10 tricks).
- If you don’t play Negative Doubles here then you’d love to bid three non-forcing Spades. But adjectival bidding is not part of the game, so perhaps South should bid 3♠ anyway, again hoping for the best (but not getting it when 4♠ goes down one).
Yes, that pesky 3♦ is hard to combat!
Next, suppose that East is a timid soul and passes over 1NT. How do you handle the South hand? You could one of two ways on this one:
- If you think that the hand is game-invitational (a tad optimistic) then you could bid 2♣, planning to bid 2♠ if Partner bids 2♦. This sequence is played by many as showing 5-4 in the majors and inviting game. See also Board 29.
- If you think that the hand should not try for game (a tad pessimistic) then you must further decide whether to play in Spades or whether to go through a Garbage Stayman sequence (1NT 2♣, 2♦ 2♥), if that is part of your methods. Surely, with such good Spades and such poor Hearts, insisting on Spades is the way to go.
6th July, 2011 None Vul
It’s usual to play “systems on” opposite a 1NT overcall, in which case Texas would still apply for those who use that convention. Furthermore, it is common to play that Texas is still on after (South’s) competition, provided that the opponents do not bid above 3♣. Is that 4♦ bid a bit aggressive? Perhaps, but we do like those 6-4 hands, they have a habit of playing well!
The bottom line on this one is that 4♥ makes 10 easy tricks.
6th July, 2011 Both Vul
What does Double show when the opponents overcall Partner’s 1NT opening? Here’s one method that’s fairly popular:
- A Double of 2♣ is Stayman
- A Double of 2♦, 2♥ and 2♠ shows values (at least invitational values and at least two cards in the doubled suit)
- A Double at the three-level is negative, looking for a 4-4 major fit. Although the bid is not for penalty, Opener will quite often pass.
Using these methods, North doubles.
7th September, 2011 N-S Vul
Let’s assume that N-S are playing Lebensohl (as, we politely suggest, you should!). If so, North’s choices here are:
- 3♥: Natural and game-forcing, probably with exactly 5 Hearts (with 6 Hearts North would usually go to 4♥, either directly or via a Texas Transfer).
- 2NT: This is a relay to 3♣, and can be either (a) a way to compete in a suit at the 3-level, or (b) the prelude to a 3♠ cue-bid (Stayman with a Spade stopper), or 3NT (natural, with a Spade stopper).
- When the opponents bid 2♠ there is no way to invite game.
So, does North compete to 3♥ (via the 2NT relay)? Or does she force to game? Surely the latter! North has 9 HCP, and although that ♠Q might not be useful, the ♥T is a big card. So, North bids a forcing 3♥.
18th June, 2008 Board 2 None Vul
After Partner has opened one of a suit, and when the opponent overcalls, it’s customary to play Negative Doubles up to a certain level, such as 3♠ or 4♥. However, when Partner opens 1NT and the opponent overcalls, it’s quite common to play Negative Doubles only at the three-level, with doubles at the two-level being used for other purposes (value-showing or penalty).
The availability of a
Negative Double is an absolute god-send for South on this board. We
cannot imagine what South is supposed to do here if Negative Double is
not an option. Perhaps 3NT and hope is the only choice.
1st November, 2006 Board 2 N-S Vul
The 2♣ bid in the featured auction is DONT, showing a two-suiter in Clubs and another suit. What are your partnership’s methods in this situation? One simple and effective method is to use the Double as Stayman, and to augment that with the rest of your No Trump system (perhaps Transfers and whatever else) as per usual.
Yes, the treatment described above is an example of “Stole My Bid”, whereby the Responder to the 1NT opening doubles his overcalling RHO when she “steals” the bid that the Responder was about to make. “Stole My Bid” works just fine when the stolen bid is 2♣, as per the above, and some partnerships extend the concept to auctions such as:
West North East South
Now, if you really must, you can double 2♥ to say “She stole my bid, I was about to transfer to Spades”. We generally try to be open-minded about conventions, most of them have some redeeming qualities, even if they don’t happen to be our personal favorites. But this one is a real clunker! “Stole My Bid” only works well if the overcall is 2♣, if they bid anything higher we do much better by playing:
- 2-level suit bids natural and less than invitational
- Lebensohl to handle other situations
25th April, 2007 Board 14 None Vul
South’s 2♣ was DONT, showing Clubs and another suit. But, let’s back up here. What would be your bid if South had passed? No doubt you would have passed also, you have just 7 HCP’s, although you might fleetingly consider 2♣, planning to pass whatever Partner bids. That would be a reasonable plan if our hand were really weak, as it would be our best chance to find a playable contract. However, with a balanced 7 HCP’s we are afraid of 1NT not one bit.
OK, back to the actual problem. How do you play your Doubles after they interefere over Partner’s 1NT? You could play the Double as purely for penalty, but a more flexible approach is to play the Double as showing at least invitational values. Having said that, it is also common to make an exception in the case of a 2♣ overcall, using the Double as a surrogate for Stayman (and for the rest of the No Trump system to be “on”)..
So, if Double is Stayman, what is your call? Actually, we would Double! As we said, we wouldn’t use Stayman after a pass by South, but her 2♣ has taken away the 1NT option. Now, Stayman looks like our best chance to compete for the part-score. We’ll pass Partner’s response, and if they compete to 3♣, we’ll Double to show some values.
2nd May, 2007 Board 31 N-S Vul
West’s 2♦ was DONT, showing Diamonds and a major. We have game-going values here, and we would like to investigate whether 3NT or 4♥ is the place to be. This is a good hand for Lebensohl, which offers these two options (amongst many others):
- A cue-bid of 3♦ is Stayman, and denies a Diamond stopper
- 2NT is a relay to 3♣, and now 3♦ is Stayman, showing a Diamond stopper
If those are the N-S methods then this is a piece of cake. North bids 3♦ the slow way (showing a Diamond stopper) and 3NT is duly reached.
As it happens, West has a Spade-Diamond two-suiter, and if E-W had been playing Cappelletti West’s call would have been 2♠. This is still a Lebensohl situation, of course, but now North has “Stayman without a stopper” so she goes the “fast” route and bids 3♠ directly.
10th January, 2007 Board 10 Both Vul
First of all, let's suppose that North had passed 1NT. What would have been your plan? Some of the options (good and bad) are as follows:
- Play in 3♦ via a transfer (if that is part of your methods) ... we don't recommend this, a 6-card suit is
generally required for that sequence
- Invite to game via Stayman ... no, we don't think that this hand is quite good enough
- Play it in 1NT ... a reasonable choice
- Bid Stayman, planning to pass Partner's response ... another reasonable choice
We'd say that it is a fairly close choice between the last two plans, either could be the winner on any given day. But the pendulum swings in the direction of a Stayman bid (passing the response) when North butts in with her 2♣ DONT bid. Is Stayman still available when they bid 2♣ in front of us? Yes, most partnerships use a Double here for that purpose, and they further play that the rest of their system (transfers, etc) is still on.
Some partnerships extend this concept, the so-called Stolen Bid convention, such that a Double of 2♥ (for example) would be a transfer to Spades. This is not a good idea, it raises more questions than answers, and belongs in the list of “Five All-Time Worst Conventions”, in our humble opinion. But that's just a personal view, many players seem to like this treatment, each to his own.
14th February, 2007 Board 17 None Vul
What are your methods after they double your 1NT opening? One common approach is to play “systems on”, in other words the same system as would be played without the Double. This works well much of the time, but would not be a great success on this board. North wants to escape to Clubs, but playing just Stayman and Transfers makes this impossible at the two-level, N-S must get out in 3♣, a contract which could be down two tricks, probably doubled.
Some partnerships employ exotic run-out systems, utilizing the Redouble by either partner to increase their escape options. There are countless such methods available, all no doubt with their merits and faults. We mention just one system, it’s relatively simple, and it goes as follows:
- Direct suit bids by Responder are DONT … for example, 1NT (Dbl) 2♦ shows Diamonds and a major.
- After Pass by Responder, the Opener will usually Redouble, allowing Responder to get out in his suit.
- After Pass by Responder, the Opener has the option of bidding his own suit if his hand is suitable (maybe a 6-card minor or a good 5-card suit)
- Redouble by Responder shows a decent hand, let’s say something 7+ HCP’s
- 3 of a suit by Responder is preemptive
If those are our methods, then, with the featured hand, we would Pass, awaiting Partner’s Redouble, after which we would sign off in 2♣.
31st May, 2006 Board 17 None Vul
Yes, it’s a Lebensohl situation. North wants to compete to 3♥, but has no aspirations to game. Playing Lebensohl, 2NT here asks Partner to bid 3♣, after which North will bid 3♥ saying “This is where I want to play”. With a stronger hand, North would bid 3♥ directly, offering Partner a choice between 3NT and 4♥.
9th August, 2006 Board 4 Both Vul
South's 1NT overcall is usually played as showing 15-17 or 15-18, and most partnerships play that "systems are on", meaning that the methods used after a 1NT opening (Stayman, Jacoby, etc) are also used after a 1NT overcall. Furthermore, if you play Lebensohl there's no reason not to play it in the auction above.
Of course, if you are playing Lebensohl here, you don't have much of a bidding problem here because 2NT is no longer available as an invitational bid ... in the absence of that you must go to game on your own. However, we would bid game with this hand even if we had an invitational 2NT at our disposal ... it's only 8 HCPs, but the 5-card suit and the fillers are enough to bid game.
9th August, 2006 Board 32 E-W Vul
If that wretched South had not chimed in with her pesky 2♠ we would have simply transferred to 2♥ and called it a day. But now, here we are, with a combined 22-24 HCP's, with no obvious action. What are the options?
A Craven Pass? It's been our experience that craven passing is often a winning strategy at matchpoints, and it might well be here. But, with such a preponderance of HCP's, somehow this just seems altogether too craven, don't you think?
A Heart Move? It may well be that the perfect spot here is 3♥, and if we are playing Lebensohl we have a way to get there ... we'll just bid 2NT, relaying to 3♣, and then sign off in 3♥. The trouble with that of course, is that we may be consigning our side to a 5-2 fit at the three-level when the opponents were already in trouble at the two-level.
A Co-operative Double? Yes, that would be our choice here, assuming that our methods allowed it. A good treatment here is that a Double of their overcall of Partner's 1NT is value-showing ... it shows at least a hand which would have invited to 2NT, with at least two of their suit. And, we'd be the first to say that this hand is not quite up to snuff, and further that we wish we had better defensive values, and a hand that was less about Hearts. More often than not, Partner will pass this Double, and occasionally they will make it ... but at least they will be a bit more cautious next time they sit at your table and you open 1NT!
11th October, 2006 Board 6 E-W Vul
Once again, an enemy preempt makes our life difficult. If we were playing a penalty Double here, that would no doubt be our choice. Not that we would be happy about it (especially at this vulnerability), but what else is there to do? Given the unfavorable vulnerability, this would not be a great success, as South is able to make 6 trump tricks for -500 and a good save against the vulnerable game.
It’s becoming popular nowadays for a Double in this situation to be Negative (take-out, in other words), and this hand is a good commercial for that treatment. The requirements for the Double are game values and (in this case) 4 Hearts. The 1NT bidder can always convert the Double to a penalty if his hand so indicates. On the actual deal, he has 4 Hearts and will gladly try for game in 4♥, making 12 tricks with the help of a Heart finesse.
How about Doubles at the 2-level? For example, suppose that South had just bid 2♠. Now, we suggest using the Double as value-showing, typically a hand with invitational values … with more we’d get into some kind of Lebensohl sequence … with less we’d usually pass (unless we compete with a long suit, again via Lebensohl).
30th May, 2007 Boards 2 & 19
West North East South South West North East
Pass Pass 1NT 2♠ Pass Pass 1NT Pass
Pass Pass ?? Pass 2♣ ??
♠ J5 ♠ AK5
♥ A65 ♥ KQ2
♦ AJ97 ♦ 854
♣ AK82 ♣ AJ94
In both cases, the featured hand opened 1NT and was then confronted with enemy action. Is Opener supposed to pass meekly, safe in the knowledge that he or she has already described his hand? Absolutely not! The recommended action in both cases is a Double, though the bid has completely different meanings on the two hands.
Let’s look first at the left hand. East has an unusually good hand and only two of the opponents' suit. He is sitting under the Spade bidder so his Double is for take-out. There is an excellent chance that Partner has a minor suit fit, and, if Partner has a smattering of points and a Spade trick or two, we’ll be delighted to hear him make a Penalty Pass with our 4 quick tricks.
Next we look at the right hand. Here the 1NT opener is sitting over the Club bidder, so the Double is penalty-oriented. Defending a Club contract, North can reasonably expect two or three Club tricks and two or three major suit tricks. With just a little help from Partner, 2♣ is going down. Of course, Partner is not compelled to leave in the Double, with a broke hand she will no doubt try an escape maneuver. But if she has a couple of Clubs and a trick somewhere she’ll leave it in.
7th May, 2008 Board 3 E-W Vul
What does Double mean in this situation? Is it penalty or take-out? Sitting over the Spade bidder, it’s usual for the Double to be penalty-oriented, typically a hand with good Spades and good defense generally. This hand certainly qualifies for that with two likely Spade tricks, a couple of side-suit Aces, and the likelihood that at least one of those AQ holdings is sitting over the King. There’s no guarantee that 2♠ is going down, but it certainly looks like a good bet.
Next, suppose that the auction was:
South West North East
1NT 2♠ Pass Pass
In this situation, under the Spade bidder, a penalty double is less attractive, so the common treatment is for a Double here to be for take-out. Typically, a doubleton in the enemy suit, maybe this hand: ♠ 95, ♥ AQT4, ♦ KT94, ♣ AQJ7.
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