Lesson 2: The 1NT Response

When your partner opens 1or 1and you have invitational strength (10-12) but not enough to force to game with a 2/1 bid, what now? Bid 1NT, which now covers two ranges; 6-9 as usual and 10-12. Partner opens 1and you hold

  •  K43 102 KJ105 9854 (7 points, not four spades, no heart fit) bid 1NT. 
  • K43 102 KJ105 KJ103 (11 points, not four spades, no heart fit) bid 1NT.

Should the 1NT response to 1or 1be forcing (for one round), so that opener must bid again? Most of the time, ‘Yes’. When responder holds a weak hand with a long suit, e.g.  8 J1084 AQJ954 842 and partner opens 1♠, in Standard you would bid 1NT, and if partner passed, that was it. Maybe it would make, maybe not. If 1NT is forcing, partner must find a second bid, and that will allow responder to show their six-card diamond suit.

But sometimes 1NT is a great spot to play, so the answer is to play 1NT as forcing, except for the times that opener has a minimum (12-13 points) and 5332 shape. Responder should evaluate their hand carefully before bidding 1NT; some 11 counts are good enough for 2/1, e.g. if partner opens 1and you hold K10 AJ1054 K53 986, it would be better to respond 2, forcing to game. 

The 1NT Response with 6-9 points About 80% of the time, responder will have a hand in the normal 6-9 point range, which would always bid 1NT non-forcing.

The Better Hands - a Good 10 to a Bad 12 Points. When you hold this (only about 20% of the time), start with 1NT, but show the extra values by catching up on the next round of the bidding.

The 1NT Response from Opener’s Point of View

Opener tries to keep the bidding alive, to describe their shape, and to allow responder to show theirs. Opener will have one of three types of hands:

1. Single suited: Rebid suit, at appropriate level: K10 AQJ853 Q3 976: 1- p - 1NT- p - 2

2. Two-suited: Bid second suit, at appropriate level: K10 AQJ85 AQ109 K7: 1-p- 1NT-p - 3

3. Balanced: If opener is balanced, and minimum ♠K10 ♥AQ853 ♦Q84 ♣987 1♥- p - 1NT - p - p- p

The Fine Points Good bidding is all about judgment, and it’s required here, to decide whether your hand is a ʽgood’ opening one, or ʽmarginal’. While it’s positive to get into the bidding these days, always consider the quality of your long suit/s, whether your honors are in the long suits.  10’s and 9’s are important ʽfillers’ in suits, ensuring more tricks. Holding aces and kings is better than queens and jacks. Add extra, from the outset, for your long suits.