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5 card majors - weak nt - unplayable?

#1 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 14:19

This is the closest I have come to getting some reasoning behind the comments I get when people find I am playing 2/1 with a 12-14 nt. Here we are talking about Standard American (which some would say is unplayable regardless of your NT range) but I think the reasoning could be similar. People do struggle with having openers 2M rebid only promising 5.

If you are playing 5 card majors with a weak no trump you will have noted that you frequently have a problem finding a good rebid. This is because the two things should not be put together. Opener’s rebid is arguably the most important bid in the game of bridge. It enables responder to immediately assess whether or not the partnership has game prospects.

Example: You hold S QJ964, H A73, D K8, C K92. You open 1S.
Partner holds S 32, H K65, D AJT95, C Q83 and bids 2D

Playing Acol with 4 card majors, opener’s rebid is 2S meaning 5 spades, no other biddable 4 card suit and 12 -14 hcp
Playing Standard American, opener’s rebid is 2NT meaning exactly the same thing.

But playing 5 card majors with a weak NT you have no truthful rebid. A rebid of 2S shows 6 spades and a rebid of 2NT promises 15-16 hcp. Which lie will you choose? Either one is likely to land you with a bad score. This will be 3NT going one light if you rebid 1NT with only 13 hcp, or a 2S contract which will score you 110 rather than the same 8 tricks for a score of 120 that you will probably make in the No Trump contract that either of the Proper Systems will land you. …….by way of
Standard American: 1S – 2D – 2NT – Pass
or Proper Acol: 1S – 2D – 2S – 2NT – Pass

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#2 User is offline   TMorris 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 14:30

5 card majors and a weak nt is very playable. It is 4 card majors with the weak nt that has issues. I have read many good players say so.

On your example hand playing 4 card majors and a weak nt I would open 1nt. Why not do so playing 5 card majors and a weak nt. I could be wrong as I play the wrong system (weak nt and 4 card majors) but no doubt someone who knows both will be along soon. I sort of feel the person you are quoting is setting up a straw man.
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#3 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:19

Isn't that rebid issue a problem with a strong NT as well?

It comes down to what do you open if you have a five card major and a 5332 shape with the HCP within your 1NT opening range. If you open the major, what is your rebid? If you have QJ964 AJ3 K8 KQ2, you open 1, your partner responds 2, what do you bid? If 2 promises six and 2NT shows 12-14 balanced you are in the same predicament, aren't you? One solution is to always open 1NT with a balanced hand in your NT range even if it has a five card major. I think there are methods that allow responder to enquire whether opener holds a five card major.
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#4 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:26

Interesting. It's not wrong, but it's nowhere near right. Depends on system, and also on how big 2/1 is, minimum.

First, many will do the same thing with your hand that 5cM strong NTers will do with KJ964 AQ3 K8 K92 - open 1NT. I don't with my regular partner, but it's a partnership agreement; with another partner *all* 5M332s are opened 1NT, so even 1-1; 1NT promises 15-17 (and 1-1; 2 promises 5=4).

I play K/S, which has always been 12-14 NT with 5 card majors. With your hands, partner bids (a forcing *) 1NT, and it continues 2-2NT; P.

With my regular partner, I play "2/1 GF except suit rebid", which isn't exactly KS(U) (awful close though - "Usually 12 points up. Could be just solid (or semi-solid including ace) suit if rebid is 3.") I play full 2/1GF and 12-14 NT with other partners (TBH, it's still K/S with 2/1GF). Doesn't change this auction at all.

When it matters is when responder is stronger and has an actual 2 call. Now you have the "Toronto 2/1 vs Calgary 2/1" issue with opener's hand. If you're from Toronto, you rebid 2, which doesn't promise 6 if minimum; if you're in Calgary, you rebid 2NT, which is 12-17 or (or even +) because "show shape, worry about extras later".

I don't speak Acol, no idea what happens there - ask a Netherlander. IIRC, "Dutch Acol" is 5cM.

Standard American - you make a decision. But you always did. What do you do, playing SA with 15-17 NT, with KJ964 AQ3 8 KQ2 ? or KJ964 AQ3 KQ2 8 ? If it's 2NT, then 2NT is 12-17 and you do the same with the example hand, playing a weak NT. If it's 2, then do the same with a weak NT, and 2NT is 15-17 balanced. If it's 3NT, then 3NT is 15-19(20), which is the same problem, just slam questions opposite 15 rather than game questions opposite 10.

* Which I will admit is key. "forcing 1NT" isn't wedded to 2/1 GF; K/S played it years before 2/1 GF was even an idea, and Precision played it well before anyone realized that 2/1 GF is useful even opposite a 10-15 1M opener.
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#5 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:29

Many world class pairs play 5c majors + wk NT. Does that make it playable? (Not a rhetorical question!)

One example of such a system is the Kokish-Kraft system. (Eric Kokish is one of the world's most respected bidding theorists.)

I'm having a deja vu writing this.
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#6 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:34

BS


KS
Alderaan delenda est
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#7 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:43

5-card majors with weak NT is perfectly playable. What is unplayable is to play the 2 response as (9)10+ (Acol) while at the same time playing the 2 rebid as showing 6+.

Quote

A rebid of [....] 2NT promises 15-16 hcp.


Do you open 1NT with 5M332?

- If you do, you just open 1NT with this hand, no problem.
- If you don't, the major suit openings and rebids work exactly the same way regardless of your notrump range. Since a 1NT opening has no overlap with the 1 opening in terms of shape, you can decide on a meaning of the 2NT rebid independently of the notrump range. So if 5cM is unplayable with weak NT, it would also be unplayable with a strong NT.
- If you sometimes open 1NT (depending on texture), it may be a good idea to play the 1NT response as semiforcing so that this hand could pass a 1NT response. That way, responder doesn't have to worry about a balanced minimum if you open 1 and rebid 2.


But even if we accept that the 2NT rebid must promise 15+ points (maybe just for consistency, as 1-2-2NT would show 15+?), and that we don't open 1NT with 5M332, the argument still doesn't hold:

Quote

2S shows 6 spades


Whether the 2 rebid shows 6 is a style issue that does not depend on whether the opening itself showed 5. The majority of textbooks say that it shows 5. For example, if you hold
65432-2-AK32-AQ2
in almost all systems you open 1 and rebid 2 over the 2 response. You might improvise a 2NT rebid if 2 would be nonforcing, but since 2 is forcing in most 5-card major systems, there's no reason not to make the normal 2 rebid. So if anything, 5-card majorites are more likely to bid a 5-card suit twice than 4-card majorites are.

Where 5-card majors with weak notrump requires some extra discussion is with respect to the minor suit openings:

AK32-A2-AJ32-432
You open 1, and after the 1 response you would like to show your strength by a 1NT rebid, but on the other hand you don't want to miss a 4-4 fit in the majors. If you rebid 1, probably the most practical bid after partner's 1NT bid is 2, but would partner really expect a hand like that? So most pairs rebid 1NT with this hand and adjust their checkback structure to cater to it.

2-AK32-AJ2-65432
You open 1 and partner dismays you with a 1 response. If 1NT now shows 15-17, you have to rebid your club suit. You might agree that a 1NT rebid shows 15-17 balanced OR this hand, and that partner can make a nonforcing checkback with 2 on a balanced 8-11 count, but most pairs just don't bother and agree to swear at the system once this hand comes up.
Alternatively, if you open 1 with all 15-17 balanced hands, you could agree to open 1 with this hand and rebid 1NT which would show a 3-suited minimum short in spades. I play this in one partnership but I don't think many people play this.
Note that Acol players have the same problem, because opening 1 with this hand doesn't really help, you would have to pretend to have five hearts. But with the red suits swapped, you would probably open 1 if you play weak NT.
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#8 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 15:58

I recently had some in-depth discussion on this system with a partner of mine (and we are playing 2/1 5cM 12-14 NT in all positions). This thread is likely to be a valuable place to exchange ideas, so please pick apart our system.

For starters, we do open 1NT with 5card majors within the range. We agreed that, although on any hand it might misfire, on balance the pressure put on the opponents and the profits it nets us in other parts of the system make this a solid idea. At MP's this might well be a losing strategy, but we primarily play IMPs. This means that we would open 1NT with your example hand (QJ964, A73, K8, K92). Furthermore, since we play 2/1 GF, responder would not be allowed to respond 2 on those shoddy 10 HCP. If partner opened 1 the correct rebid would be 1NT (Forcing). This is another reason why this system may not be as popular at matchpoints - we give up on playing 1NT with a strong NT with a 5cM opposite 6 HCP.

Additionally, we play:
  • 1 contains all our strong NT openings and is 2+.1 This is a gadget we are trying out. I don't particularly love it (especially in light of the rest of the system below), but it means we get to play 1 unbalanced (5+ or 4441).
  • Over 1 our 1 response may contain only 3, and a minor raise may contain 'only' 5 (with (32)35 I would often prefer 1 over 1NT/2/3). Other than this we do not depart from natural bidding (1-1M promises 4+, typically 6+ HCP, and we play Walsh).
  • Over 1 we put a few semibalanced hands in 1NT (NF 6-9) and 2NT (NF 10-11) along with the balanced ones - in particular hands with longer clubs such as 3=2=2=6. We also have 2 GF and 3 natural NF. We can raise diamonds with 4, or only 3 in contested auctions. Note that this clears up 1-2; ?, traditionally a weak point of many systems. We can freely bid a 4-card major (2 if 4=4=4=1) without showing extras, or raise with 4 clubs. We haven't discussed what 1-2; 2NT shows. It is surely inefficient to have a vacant sequence in our system, but I do like keeping the strong NT out of 1. If 1 can contain a strong NT responder should strain to avoid bidding NT on unsuitable hands for fear of wrong-siding (the exact opposite of what we are doing), which means you need some awful ambiguous 2 or raises on 3-card suits.
  • Over 1M-1NT opener rebids their second suit if they have one, or 2M showing 6+. With the strong NT we bid the cheapest 3-card side suit. This means that 1M-1NT; 2/2 is very wide-ranged (from about 10 points with two real suits to 17 with a 3-card fragment in the minor), and responder should strain to find a bid (often 2M false preference). I have suggested Gazzilli but for now we are sticking with this almost-natural structure. This is not ideal, but it is arguably not worse than forcing NT auctions in a strong NT system.
  • Over 1M-2X the 2M rebid shows and denies nothing. 2NT shows the strong NT, and other bids are natural (and jumps are splinters, 3M is a solid suit etc., your standard 2/1 GF structure). I don't think we ever have a rebid problem. If 2X is not GF in your system you may be in trouble (say, KQxxx, xx, xx, AQxx, 1-2/2 and back to you).

This system has a few rough edges, but I think it is completely playable. I haven't played it for long enough to tell if the unbalanced diamond is a winner or is just moving problems around, at the moment I'm still happy with it.

I do think there are good arguments for changing the NT range in 3rd and 4th seat (if partner couldn't open there is no game opposite most of my own 12-14 NT range), but this too is something we haven't discussed yet. So for now we just claim we are pressuring the strong fourth hand, or contesting the partscore battle ;)

1With a 5332 with 5 good diamonds and a 'trumpy' 15-17 hand we deliberately missort and bid as a 6322.
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#9 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-June-08, 19:05

It occurs to me that maybe the 5cMWNT-scepticists should have used a slightly different example:
QJ964 A7 K8 K972
You don't open 1NT with this hand so you open 1. Over the 2 response, you have a problem. Since you would have opened 1NT with a 5323 13-count, partner will expect 15+ if you rebid 2NT.

Since even strong-notrumpers would have to chose between 2 and 3 with QJ964 7 K8 AK972 (2nt would probably go to far even if the strength was right), you make the same choice with this hand.

If the 2 response can be as light as 10 points (as in the example they gave), 3 isn't an option. So you have to rebid 2 with this hand.

Playing 5-card majors gives you the option to play 2/1 GF (as I think you do, Kathryn?), so you could agree to rebid 3 to show your shape. Most pairs play 3 as showing something close to reverse strength (Lawrence says that it shouldn't quite promise reverse strength, but it does show extras).

On the other hand, if one is comfortable with a wide-ranging 3 rebid, a wide-ranging 2NT rebid would probably also be ok.
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#10 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 03:11

View Posthelene_t, on 2021-June-08, 19:05, said:

It occurs to me that maybe the 5cMWNT-scepticists should have used a slightly different example
I think the point is that your hand runs into the exact same problems regardless of your 1NT range. To show a downside to 5cMWNT you need a set of hands that are more difficult to bid in a weak NT context than in a strong NT context.

In all fairness, I think if you play 5cMWNT I think you do have to choose between either opening 1NT with a 5cM and a balanced hand within the NT range, or play some gadget over 1M-1NT (and also over 1-1, if 1NT would show 15-17) to show the weak balanced hand. You can rebid 2M on a 5-bagger, but you have lost the advantage that 1X shows extras in either points or shape.
Adding non-GF 2/1 is a whole other can of worms, but it is not clear to me that it is a bigger problem with 5cMWNT than it is with 5cMSNT (after all, you still have to find a rebid on your balanced minimum 5cM opening in SNT).
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#11 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 09:41

You have the same problem with any range nt: bury the 5-card major or show the shape and strength of the hand in one bid. In the example hand, if you open 1nt there is no rebid problem. Once you make the decision which way to play it, admit there will be problems and accept the occasional bad result that decision is bound to produce.
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#12 User is offline   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 09:53

View PostTMorris, on 2021-June-08, 14:30, said:

5 card majors and a weak nt is very playable. It is 4 card majors with the weak nt that has issues. I have read many good players say so.

On your example hand playing 4 card majors and a weak nt I would open 1nt. Why not do so playing 5 card majors and a weak nt. I could be wrong as I play the wrong system (weak nt and 4 card majors) but no doubt someone who knows both will be along soon. I sort of feel the person you are quoting is setting up a straw man.


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#13 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 15:09

Another doubt about 5cM 12-14nt

Playing weak no trump, you open 15-17 Bal hands 1 suit, a game is confirmed (to you) as soon as partner shows 10 pt rather than 12 —— 2/1 GF is not necessary.
And, let’s say the 1nt in a normal 2/1 is semiforcing, opener is passing with minimum and bal hands. But when you open 1 major with 12-14 unbal since you can’t open 1nt, such hands doesn’t exist any more. 1nt response is essentially forcing, and presents a lot of problems to distinguish from 15-17 unbal hands.
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#14 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 16:46

View Postjillybean, on 2021-June-09, 15:09, said:

Playing weak no trump, you open 15-17 Bal hands 1 suit, a game is confirmed (to you) as soon as partner shows 10 pt rather than 12 —— 2/1 GF is not necessary.

But opener could still have an unbalanced 11-count so you still need some 12/13 points to force to game.

It may be true, though, that with 11 points and support you just force to game, so the limit raises should be a bit lighter, which in turns also makes the simple raises a bit lighter.

Playing 5cMWNT, the auction
1M-1NT
2
now shows a balanced 15-17 OR real clubs, so responder is free to raise to 3 with 9-10 points and 4-card support, knowing that opener will have clubs if he doesn't accept the invite.

I agree that 1NT nonforcing (or semiforcing) doesn't make much sense in a 5cMWNT system, as the auction
1-1NT
pass
is almost impossible anyway. After 1 it may be a bit different since opener might like to pass 1NT when he holds a Flanery hand.
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#15 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-June-09, 20:48

I open almost all 11s if I can open them 1M. Partner had better have 12+ to GF.

I have passed several 13s (and one exceptionally poor-for-system 14 in memory) if I had to open them 1m. Partner assumes in competition that I have a strong NT, and if I don't, I need to make her aware of it if possible. Note that this is a weakness of the weak NT, but has nothing to do with 5cM (except that there's more competition over 1 than 1). It's also a strength because she *can* assume I have a strong NT when deciding how to compete, rather than 11-14 balanced.

Please note that other partnerships may have other ideas; those that come from an Acol background have a *lot* of other ideas. But these are my version of K/S.
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#16 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-June-10, 01:06

Two obvious ways in which continuations after a 1M-2m and 1-2 can be totally independent of the 1N opening range:

1) 5M(332) hands are always opened 1M if in range for 1N
2) 5M(332) hands are never opened 1M

The 2/1 system described in the book Il Sistema Bocchi-Duboin and played by then already multiple world champions Bocchi-Duboin, is an example of a system of type 1). Their 1N opening was 12-14 or 15-17 depending on seat and vulnerability, btw.

The 2/1 GF system described in these influential notes by another (then) world-class pair, Welland-Fallenius comes very close to being a system of type 2). (1M is somewhat optional with 11-13 and 5M(332).)
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#17 User is offline   Cascade 

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Posted 2021-June-10, 15:09

Almost any combination of weak or strong no trump, and four or five card majors, including different styles of whether or not 1NT includes a five-card major, and what shapes you put into your so-called balanced no trump, and which suit you open with no five-card major but with a four-card major, is playable.

You just need to adapt to the system you are playing. For example say the bidding goes 1 (2) ...

1. If I am playing strong no trump with five card majors then I expect partner to have balanced junk most often for the 1 opening.

2. If I am playing weak no trump with four or five card majors then I expect partner to have either extra strength 15+ balanced or extra distribution.

This information effects whether or not I want to enter the auction. I adapt to the two completely different scenarios. One is not: playable and the other unplayable or vice versa.
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#18 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2021-June-10, 16:04

View PostCascade, on 2021-June-10, 15:09, said:

Almost any combination of weak or strong no trump, and four or five card majors, including different styles of whether or not 1NT includes a five-card major, and what shapes you put into your so-called balanced no trump, and which suit you open with no five-card major but with a four-card major, is playable.

You just need to adapt to the system you are playing. For example say the bidding goes 1 (2) ...

1. If I am playing strong no trump with five card majors then I expect partner to have balanced junk most often for the 1 opening.

2. If I am playing weak no trump with four or five card majors then I expect partner to have either extra strength 15+ balanced or extra distribution.

This information effects whether or not I want to enter the auction. I adapt to the two completely different scenarios. One is not playable and the other unplayable or vice versa.

Thanks Wayne, I can't upvote your reply but I might quote it. Good luck in Tuaranga.
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#19 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2021-June-11, 11:03

View Postjillybean, on 2021-June-08, 14:19, said:

This is the closest I have come to getting some reasoning behind the comments I get when people find I am playing 2/1 with a 12-14 nt. Here we are talking about Standard American (which some would say is unplayable regardless of your NT range) but I think the reasoning could be similar. People do struggle with having openers 2M rebid only promising 5.


This is a pretty good system; opener does not have to find a rebid with a weak NT because she has already opened it.

Quote

If you are playing 5 card majors with a weak no trump you will have noted that you frequently have a problem finding a good rebid. This is because the two things should not be put together. Opener’s rebid is arguably the most important bid in the game of bridge. It enables responder to immediately assess whether or not the partnership has game prospects.

Example: You hold S QJ964, H A73, D K8, C K92. You open 1S.
Partner holds S 32, H K65, D AJT95, C Q83 and bids 2D

Playing Acol with 4 card majors, opener’s rebid is 2S meaning 5 spades, no other biddable 4 card suit and 12 -14 hcp
Playing Standard American, opener’s rebid is 2NT meaning exactly the same thing.

But playing 5 card majors with a weak NT you have no truthful rebid. A rebid of 2S shows 6 spades and a rebid of 2NT promises 15-16 hcp. Which lie will you choose? Either one is likely to land you with a bad score. This will be 3NT going one light if you rebid 1NT with only 13 hcp, or a 2S contract which will score you 110 rather than the same 8 tricks for a score of 120 that you will probably make in the No Trump contract that either of the Proper Systems will land you. …….by way of
Standard American: 1S – 2D – 2NT – Pass
or Proper Acol: 1S – 2D – 2S – 2NT – Pass



The above is nonsense. The given hand is a weak NT. Also OP is playing 2/1 GF, so if the partnership have agreed that the given hand is a 1!s opening, then presumably responder’s correct bid, 1NT, is passable.
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