New Minor Forcing
When you open 1♣ or 1♦, and responder bids their major, 1♥ or 1♠, and then you rebid 1NT (balanced hand, fewer than 15 points and no four-card fit for responder), there’s often a need for a forcing, enquiring bid to find out more about opener’s hand. Many bids here are not forcing unless there’s a jump. Often responder, who might hold invitational values or better, is not yet sure about the best contract. It might be 4♥/♠ if opener has three -card support and responder has five of their major, or it might be 3NT, or indeed, it mightn’t be game at all.
A great gadget and a useful convention for responder, for finding more information from opener, is New Minor Forcing. What is it? The bid of the other minor is artificial and asks opener to describe their hand further. So, regardless of what you hold in the other minor, you just bid that suit. It shows 10 + points and is at least an invitation to game.
1♣ - 1♥
1NT - 2♦
1♦ - 1♠
1NT - 2♣
While there are different ways to do this (called checkback) e.g. always using 2♣ as checkback, or Two Way New Minor Forcing (see below), the whole idea is to have a way to ask the opening hand (who has rebid 1NT) about their shape, in a similar way to actually using Stayman over 1NT to check for a major holding. This is why it could also be called Checkback Stayman.
Here’s a common bidding problem. You hold:
Partner opens 1♦ You bid 1♠ and partner rebids 1NT. You would like to make one more try for game, as your diamond fit is good, and 3NT might make if partner has a maximum hand. However, if you bid 2NT now, partner may pass. If you find partner with three-card spade support it would have been better to play in spades, and 2NT might fail. One of the big problems in standard methods is the lack of invitational bids after a 1NT rebid. In most systems the only bid is 2NT whether the hand is suitable for no trumps or not.
Using New Minor Forcing, you simply bid the other minor suit (regardless of what you hold in that suit), in this case, 2♣. This will be at least a one-round force, and opener will describe their hand in more detail. So, after 1♦ pass 1♠ pass 1NT pass 2♣, opener will bid as follows:
2♥ shows a four–card heart suit
2♠ shows three-card spade support, or 3♠ with a maximum hand
2♦ shows five diamonds
2NT/3NT shows a balanced hand and probably 2-3-4-4 shape
3♣ shows a four-card club suit and probably five diamonds
It’s also possible to use two-way New Minor Forcing, but it’s a bit more complicated. It goes like this:
2♣ always shows an invitational hand only
2 ♦ shows a game forcing hand
This gadget is a little like fourth suit forcing, and is similarly helpful when responder, with a reasonable or good hand, needs more information from opener about the best contract.
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