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5 card stayman opposite 1 no trump

#1 User is offline   Wackojack 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 06:23

It seems fairly fashionable to open 1NT with a 5 card major with a 5332 distribution and not fashionable to use 5 card stayman. With this combination, sometimes you miss a good major suit fit and find yourself in the wrong contract. Of course if you do play 5 card stayman you lose the ability when weak to alight in 2 diamonds or best major. Presumably it is felt that the trade off for this inability is too great. Opening 1NT with a 5 card major does get you over awkward rebid problems if you open with the major, but some solve this by rebidding 5 card majors or by manufacturing a minor suit rebid on 3 cards. Again there is a trade off on the least of evils.

Although I would welcome views on this, I am really looking for hard data that clearly shows that the fashionable view is the best (or not as the case may be). Or am I asking for the impossible?
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#2 User is offline   dicklont 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 07:33

Puppet Stayman after 1NT is not popular because you lose stayman with weak hands.
However whith 10+ some play 3 as puppet stayman.
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#3 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 07:39

So long as you have ways of responder showing shortage, you won't regret missing a 5-3 fit very often. 3NT will usually be right when partner is 4333 and is often acceptable when responder is 5332 or 4432.
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#4 User is offline   han 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 08:14

I love puppet, I think it is really important to have a way to ask for a 5-card major.

Playing in a strong Dutch IMP pairs competition the other day we had a nice result that I thank puppet stayman for.

I picked up A KQJx AJxx Qxxx and my partner opened 1NT. We didn't play a minor suit ask. I bid puppet stayman and partner responded 3S, showing 5 spades. Now this was really bad news, not only did our hands fit badly, my partner's range was now more like 14-16 instead of 15-17, he would never open 1NT with a 5-card major and 17 points. I bid 4NT and partner passed with K10xxx Ax KQx Kxx, a suprisingly well fitting 15-count. Since my LHO actually had QJxx of spades and the ace of clubs 3NT was makable after a non-club lead on a squeeze without the count. Of the 12 pairs that bid slam 5 pairs made it. This was a little unlucky but I was still pleased with our +2 IMPs.
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#5 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 09:50

As wacko intimates, nothing is perfect. Eg Partner opens 1NT, you hold five hearts, three spades, game forcing values. Suppose 3 is puppet. It could be right to check for five spades but surely most would transfer to hearts and bid 3NT, which will be right in the more frequent case that partner has three hearts.

Although it doesn't solve everything, I like the following: After 1NT-2, opener bids 3M on five anytime he would accept the invitation had it gone 1NT-2-2M-2NT. Presumably 16 highs and a five card suit justifies this, and maybe 15 with body does also. If we assume that the 2 bid will always be either on at least invitational values or else on support for both majors, this is pretty safe. In the first case you end in a game, M or NT, that you were going to reach anyway, and in the second case you are (almost surely) in a nine card fit. Not that this will always save you, but it helps.


I think "proof by data" will be tough because there are so many variants on how to handle the auction after the 1NT opening. There was something in the ACBL Bulletin a few years back where it was asserted that a study based on examining hand records showed that opening 1NT with a five card major is only good under very limited conditions. Maybe someone could find the reference. I am generally skeptical of proof by data, but I concede it has its uses.
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#6 User is offline   Fluffy 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 10:37

Have you ever tried not opening 1NT with 5 card majors?, I played 1NT with 5 card majors for a while and my results were awful. I was a junior so probably my awfull card play skills and judgement had more to do with the results than the style, but I am happy with my 1M openings nevertheless.
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#7 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 10:57

Me? Yes, I do. Unless I am playing with someone who goes into orbit over it, I fairly often open 1NT on 5-3-3-2 shape. Not always, but often. My current f2f partner was very opposed, underwent a Saul-like conversion, and now is as ardently in favor as he previously was ardently opposed. I, of course, like to think that I do it when it is right. Results do not always bear this out but neither have the results convinced me to stop the practice.

Irrelevant but possibly of interest: Often this is thought of as a new wrinkle. I have the old Goren book and despite the fact that CG opened four card majors, he also sometimes opened 1NT with a five card major.
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#8 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 11:18

View Postkenberg, on 2010-December-05, 10:57, said:

despite the fact that CG opened four card majors, he also sometimes opened 1NT with a five card major.


I am not sure why playing 4cM should make you less likely to open 1NT with five - if anything, I'd think it would make you more likely to open 1NT, because you cannot be playing a forcing 1NT in response to a four-card major.
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#9 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 12:01

I've never tried opening 1NT with a biddable 5 card major (eg including an honour) but I have no problems with opening 1M. After 1 1NT I play 2 as either 4+ clubs or balanced, and if partner has an 8+ count he will bid 2 to allow me bid 2NT to show my 15-16. So I can't see what I am missing. How is 1NT with a 5 card major better?

If partner was going to pass my open then I would rather be in 1M than 1NT.
If he has a 6/7 count then we can play in my 2M or 2 of his his long diamond suit, when he wouldn't have had that opportunity if I'd opened 1NT.

And opening 1M also gaves you the benefits of the immediate support bids. So what's the big advantage of including a 5 card major in 1NT?

Sorry, no hard facts as requested.
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#10 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 13:04

I think you are asking for the impossible.

I believe that there are some pretty good bridge-playing parts of the world where this approach is not in the least fashionable, and opening 1NT with a 5-card major would be considered strange (e.g. France, I think).

I can't give you any concrete statistics, but I can tell you the following hard facts:
- We rarely open a 15-17 1NT with a 5-card major (the 1st NV mini is different). We do play some methods after 1M - 1NT (and 1H - 1S) to sort out the balanced hands; these mean playing in 2M opposite a weak balanced hand rather than 1NT.
- We are allowed to open 1NT with a 5-card major if it's obviously the right call; and do it slightly more often in 3rd seat for pre-emptive value, particularly with hearts.
- I am keeping a rough tally of when this gains or loses compared to opening 1NT. So far with our methods opening 1S is winning over opening 1NT; 1H is much closer. Neither is definitive*.

As a separate point, this style seems to be particularly popular in non-regular partnerships, and in client-pro partnerships. {yes, some regular serious partnerships also do it, I realise that). I think that is because it definitely makes uncontested sequences easier as you don't have to discuss complex methods, or cope with potentially short minor rebids, or have trouble getting your extra values over after a 2/1 response. In client-pro partnerships, the pro gets to open 1NT on a lot more hands; the client isn't obliged to open 1NT on a 2=5=2=4 if they don't want to play the hand. This also applies to partnerships where both players think they are the better half and try to play as many hands as possible.


*It's often quite hard to tell if the choice of action has gained or lost. I played a match on Wednesday where (in an irregular partnership) I opened 1NT with Axx AKxxx A10 Jxx; partner had K109xx Jxxx KJxx -; we weren't playing particularly sophisticated methods and quite reasonably (IMO) bid 1NT - 2C - 2H - 4H. The other table bid to 6H. 6H seems to almost exactly neutral as an imps contract. At the table 6H was off, so was that a gain or a loss for opening 1NT?
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#11 User is offline   l milne 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 13:09

View PostfromageGB, on 2010-December-05, 12:01, said:

I've never tried opening 1NT with a biddable 5 card major (eg including an honour) but I have no problems with opening 1M. After 1 1NT I play 2 as either 4+ clubs or balanced, and if partner has an 8+ count he will bid 2 to allow me bid 2NT to show my 15-16. So I can't see what I am missing. How is 1NT with a 5 card major better?

If partner was going to pass my open then I would rather be in 1M than 1NT.
If he has a 6/7 count then we can play in my 2M or 2 of his his long diamond suit, when he wouldn't have had that opportunity if I'd opened 1NT.

And opening 1M also gaves you the benefits of the immediate support bids. So what's the big advantage of including a 5 card major in 1NT?

Sorry, no hard facts as requested.


The major advantage is that partner does not have to worry about you having an intermediate balanced hand in other auctions, I find. Now 1-2 (GF)-2NT/3NT are both more tightly defined.

Also, you notice that in this 1M-1NT-2 auction you end up playing 2+ when your partner doesn't have 8+HCP? This is instead of playing a fairly likely 1NT contract on your misfit. I don't know how many matchpoint sessions you play, but your opponents will be thanking you for not having to defend more 1NT contracts.

My personal preference:
1. open 1NT on virtually all 5M332 shapes;
2. simple (4-card) stayman;
3. if responder has game values, have a way to ask if opener's major is 5 cards. e.g. 1NT-2-2-3: how many hearts do you have?
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#12 User is offline   CarlRitner 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 19:04

View Postl milne, on 2010-December-05, 13:09, said:

The major advantage is that partner does not have to worry about you having an intermediate balanced hand in other auctions, I find. Now 1-2 (GF)-2NT/3NT are both more tightly defined.

Also, you notice that in this 1M-1NT-2 auction you end up playing 2+ when your partner doesn't have 8+HCP? This is instead of playing a fairly likely 1NT contract on your misfit. I don't know how many matchpoint sessions you play, but your opponents will be thanking you for not having to defend more 1NT contracts.

My personal preference:
1. open 1NT on virtually all 5M332 shapes;
2. simple (4-card) stayman;
3. if responder has game values, have a way to ask if opener's major is 5 cards. e.g. 1NT-2-2-3: how many hearts do you have?


Have you looked at the scheme in Marty Bergen's older book, "Better Bidding with Bergen, Part 1" where 1NT-2C is the simple 4-card Stayman and 1NT-3C is the game forcing 5-card Stayman? That fulfills 2. and 3. above, although you lose whatever you have assigned to 1NT-3C. If that's 5-5 invitational in the minors, it's your decision if the gain is worth it.

For me it is.
Cheers,
Carl
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#13 User is offline   georgeac 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 20:11

View Postdicklont, on 2010-December-05, 07:33, said:

Puppet Stayman after 1NT is not popular because you lose stayman with weak hands.
However whith 10+ some play 3 as puppet stayman.
this is what i use. it seems to work but it seems very rare that opener actually has a 5 card major
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#14 User is offline   Cascade 

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Posted 2010-December-05, 21:00

We do what Liam suggested above:

1NT 2
Any 3 Asks for clarification of major suit length

This works not only for finding a five-card major in the 1NT opening but also for finding three card support for responder's five-card major.

This means that we can use this approach with 5-3, 5-4, 4-3, 3-3 and 3-2 in the majors - we do something else with a singleton.

1NT 2
2 3 Have a three card major?

1NT 2
2 3 Have you five hearts or three (or four) spades? If responder has four spades they bid 2 over 2

1NT 2
2 3 Have your three hearts or five spades?
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#15 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2010-December-06, 00:06

View PostfromageGB, on 2010-December-05, 12:01, said:

I've never tried opening 1NT with a biddable 5 card major (eg including an honour) but I have no problems with opening 1M. After 1 1NT I play 2 as either 4+ clubs or balanced, and if partner has an 8+ count he will bid 2 to allow me bid 2NT to show my 15-16. So I can't see what I am missing. How is 1NT with a 5 card major better?

If partner was going to pass my open then I would rather be in 1M than 1NT.
If he has a 6/7 count then we can play in my 2M or 2 of his his long diamond suit, when he wouldn't have had that opportunity if I'd opened 1NT.

And opening 1M also gaves you the benefits of the immediate support bids. So what's the big advantage of including a 5 card major in 1NT?

Sorry, no hard facts as requested.


How can you play in 2D when partner has long diamonds if he has to rebid 2D to show 8+ points?

Because I open a strong NT with a five-card major -
  • 1S:1NT, 2C is natural, and partner's 2D rebid now is natural and weak.
  • I don't have to find a rebid on a balanced 16-count after 1H-P-1S-P.
  • If the auction gets competitive, I have already shown that I have extra values.
  • I preempt the opposition more. While I may have only deprived LHO of a 1NT overcall, it is likely that several of his bids over my 1NT opening will show length in my five-card suit, so it is unlikely he will be dealt a hand suitable for them, and if he is, he will probably regret bidding.


Playing Bart and a (semi-)forcing NT, I would sometimes prefer 1S to 1NT, but I would much sooner be playing a non-forcing NT and have to open 1NT with any 5332 15-count I happened to be dealt.
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#16 User is offline   Free 

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Posted 2010-December-06, 08:52

I've played all sorts of combinations, and basically it also depends on the rest of your system. I've played 1NT with all 5-card M (with a tool to find out about it), I've played systems where 1NT denies 5M, I've played that only a poor 5-card M is allowed (without a tool, Jxxxx is considered a 4-card suit),... All methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Opening 1M with 15-17 5M332 can work out great, but it can also be a disaster. Same hand opening 1NT can give us a good or bad result. But at this point nobody made a real study about this, and there's no consensus what's the best approach.

Most people over here use 1NT-3 as puppet stayman. Another approach that's gaining popularity these days, thanks to Meckwell I guess, is to play 1NT-2NT as puppet stayman (responses slightly modified from the standard scheme). Both tools work well in localizing 5-3 and 4-4 fits whenever responder is GF. With invites you can go through Stayman and opener can only show his 5-card when he's maximum (for example 1NT-2-2M-2NT-3M). It's a good tradeoff imo.
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#17 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2010-December-06, 09:56

View PostCascade, on 2010-December-05, 21:00, said:

We do what Liam suggested above:

1NT 2
Any 3 Asks for clarification of major suit length

This works not only for finding a five-card major in the 1NT opening but also for finding three card support for responder's five-card major.

This means that we can use this approach with 5-3, 5-4, 4-3, 3-3 and 3-2 in the majors - we do something else with a singleton.

1NT 2
2 3 Have a three card major?

1NT 2
2 3 Have you five hearts or three (or four) spades? If responder has four spades they bid 2 over 2

1NT 2
2 3 Have your three hearts or five spades?


I can see where this might work, once the "something else with a singleton" is taken care of.


The other day playing on-line pick up it went

Pard Me
1NT 2
2 3
3NT Pass

Not a success with his Txx of spades and my stiff.

Undiscussed, I think
Pard Me
1NT 2
2 3
is strong with diamonds and spades,since if I just had diamonds I would start with a transfer to diamonds. But with some work, I can see how a system such as the above could work.

As mentioned above, I have had decent luck playing that with 1NT includes a five card major I bid 3M over Stayman if I have something beyond a minimum. It's a simple approach and I generally land on my feet even when pard was trying to get out in 2 of a major. And sometimes, on the border, he now re-evaluates and raises to 4. Stiff club spot with Kxxx in M and another king somewhere.

So my way is simple and, I think, not crazy. But I definitely can see the more elaborate approach as working.
Ken
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#18 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2010-December-07, 09:09

View PostfromageGB, on 2010-December-05, 12:01, said:

So what's the big advantage of including a 5 card major in 1NT?


You can make a pretty good case for opening 1NT with 5 card majors. You will sometimes lose a major suit fit, the trade-off of giving a good picture of your shape/strengt compensates for that.

Responder will immediately know what level we should play, plus we will get to the right strain whenever he is inv+ (via puppet/muppet stayman).

Losing a 5-3 major fit is a problem mainly when responder is weak with support (and passes 1NT), but those hands aren't very common. How do I know that? Because I've been playing a 9-11 1NT with 5 card majors for like 5 years now and I can only remember one occasion where we got a bottom due to that.
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#19 User is offline   l milne 

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Posted 2010-December-07, 20:19

View PostCarlRitner, on 2010-December-05, 19:04, said:

Have you looked at the scheme in Marty Bergen's older book, "Better Bidding with Bergen, Part 1" where 1NT-2C is the simple 4-card Stayman and 1NT-3C is the game forcing 5-card Stayman? That fulfills 2. and 3. above, although you lose whatever you have assigned to 1NT-3C. If that's 5-5 invitational in the minors, it's your decision if the gain is worth it.

For me it is.


I don't have enough space over 1NT as it is, no way am I throwing away 3 too!

Much better to play each bid as having a large range of possibilities and using gadgets like re-transfers etc. to make those bids work hard then have very tightly defined single-purpose responses. But then again, Meckwell played some form of puppet response at least for a while, so what do I know :blink:
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#20 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2010-December-07, 21:19

You can adjust for the loss of 3, assuming that you had been using 3 as weak 5-5, and 2NT as a transfer to diamonds.

New: 1NT-2NT is either the diamond hand or the 5-5 weak hand. If you fit diamonds, you now have to bid 3, not 3, to show this fact. Not a horrible loss. If you do not fit diamonds you bid 3. If partner has the weak 5-5 he passes. If he has just diamonds, he doesn't pass. He can bid 3, the presumed end of the auction, or he can bid beyond 3 to show whatever it would show if the 2NT simply showed diamonds.

I suppose it is not perfect, but it frees up 3 for other uses. Not necessarily puppet, of course.
Ken
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