You may be either Opener or Responder, but you will always be in the South position.

The first page or two of each Deal shows only your hand. The initial bidding is given and you are asked to decide what you would bid, then click BID. The subsequent page will then appear telling you what you should have bid and continuing the auction. On the final page of each Deal partner's hand will be shown.

Although it is not included in the Deals you might wish to examine your and dummy's hand and make a Plan of how you would play the contract.


This lesson is about hands which are opened 1NT or 2NT.

In fact, those two are just part of the Balanced Hand opening hierarchy:

PointsOpening Bid
12-14Open 1 of a suit, then rebid 1NT
15-17Open 1NT
18-19Open 1 of a suit, then jump in notrump
20-21Open 2NT
22-24Open 2♣, then rebid 2NT.
25-27Open 2♣, then rebid 3NT.

The reason that the openings other than 1NT and 2NT are excluded from the lesson is nothing sinister, but is just so we won't have to deal with the first response to those bids at this time.

A Balanced Hand is usually defined as one which has no singleton or void, and no more than one doubleton.
Thus you only open 1NT or 2NT if your hand has one of these three distribution patterns:

4 - 3 - 3- 34 - 4 - 3 - 25 - 3 - 3 - 2

There is one more restriction that may or may not be applied.
If your hand has the 5-3-3-2 pattern some insist that the 5-card suit not be a Major suit. This is strictly a partnership agreement about which many Bridge experts disagree. For this lesson we have avoided the controversy by never having an example where Opener holds a 5-card Major suit.

Bidding after a notrump opening is probably the easiest and most accurate in all of Bridge. The reason for this is that the Opener has described his hand within such narrow borders it is usually easy for Responder to determine what the final contract should be. Therefore it is logical that the Responder becomes Captain and Chief Decision-maker.

The final contract has two parts; What suit (or NT), and How High.
The How High part is decided by Responder adding the two sets of points together and seeing where the total partnership assets fit - keeping in mind that it takes 26 points to make game in a Major suit or in Notrump, that it takes 33 points to make a small slam and that it takes 37 points to make a Grand slam.

Here is a table showing how that plays out for a 1NT opening.

Opener PointsBidding

Suppose Responder has a balanced hand and wants to keep the contract in notrump.
Responder's strategy: Opener's strategy following the response: Of course if partner opens 2NT then those numbers don't work. You have to have another pretty table to look at and another set of invite/force instructions. OR, you just have to do the math in your head right there at the Bridge table. The good news is that it's easier to do the math than to memorize the table.

That takes care of How High. Next responder has to start thinking about what suit.

The bidding priority for all bidding, not just Notrump, is: The reason that a Major fit is better than Notrump is that the suit contract will usually play one trick better for about the same number of points. Not always, but usually.

The reasons that Minor suits are last is that it takes 29 points to make the 11 trick game, and that they only count 20 points per trick anyway.

For a responder to try to find a Major suit fit, his first priority, he needs help from artificial conventions. Every Bridge player should use the Stayman convention, which is designed to locate 4-4 Major suit fits. The truth is that it is difficult to discover these 4-4 fits after a 1NT opening UNLESS you use Stayman. There is a lesson on the Stayman convention on BakerBridge.

Another valuable aid for Major suit fits after a 1NT opening is the Jacoby Transfer. Perhaps not absolutely necessary like Stayman, Transfers certainly make a big improvement in your bidding. There is a Jacoby Transfer lesson on BakerBridge also.

Since you may not yet play Stayman or Transfers, neither of them are used in any of the example Deals.
Stayman is avoided simply by never giving Responder a 4-card Major suit.
Jacoby Transfers are avoided by providing a workaround (inferior) method for Responder to handle 5-card Majors.

25 examples will be worth more than another 1000 words.

 Deal 1