Opening the bidding with 1NT shows a special hand type. It's balanced, with 15, 16 or 17 points. There are three balanced hand patterns: 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, and 5-3-3-2. You don’t need high cards in each suit to open 1NT, although that would be perfect.
Below is a typical 1NT opening with 17 high card points and a 4-4-3-2 shape.
♠ A K J 4
♥ Q T 3 2
♦ K J T
♣ K 7
Your partner is saying a lot about their hand when they start with 1NT. As responder, add your points to 15, 16 or 17. If you have a long suit, bid it. The 1NT opener will have at least two cards in your suit, because their hand is balanced. If you have a balanced hand, stay in no trumps. If you have an unbalanced hand, choose your longest suit to be the trump suit. The weaker responder is, and the longer their suit, the more that suit should be trumps.
Balanced Responses to 1NT Openings.
0 – 7 pts: Pass (eg. 1NT p p )
8 – 9 pts: Raise to 2NT (1NT p 2NT)
10+pts: Raise to 3NT (1NT p 3NT)
0 – 7 pts: Bid 2 of your longest suit (1NT p 2♦/♥/♠)
8 – 9 pts: Bid 2NT (1NT p 2NT)
10+ pts: Jump to game with six+ cards (1NT p 4 ♥/♠) , or to 3 of your suit with five. (1NT p 3 ♥/♠).
Looking for more information? These books will help you learn the basic skills required to play bridge.
Test your knowledge
Now that you have completed the lesson, try this quiz to test what you have learned.
If you have any questions about this lesson, leave a comment below.