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How to respond to NT opener with 5-4 in the majors

#1 User is offline   tgphelps 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 12:01

Assume we play a 15-17 NT opener, with Stayman and Jacoby transfers.

I've been trying to reason through what to do when I have an invitational or better hand, and 5-4 in the majors, after opener bids 1NT. I'm thinking I should start with Stayman. If opener does not respond 2D, I'm okay. But if he does, we still might have a fit in my 5-card major. I'm thinking I should then bid my 5-card major over 2D, but then how do I distinguish between an invitational and a game-going hand.

There must be a 'standard' way of handling this situation. What is it, please?
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#2 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 12:04

The standard is:

  • With a weak hand, use Garbage or Crawling Stayman (bid 2, if partner bids 2M pass, if partner bids 2 pull to your major).
  • With an invitational hand with 54 transfer to hearts and then bid 2.
  • With an invitational hand with 54 you are stuck. Some people play that 2 and pulling partner's 2 to 2 shows this hand, but others use this as part of Garbage Stayman. In that case you have to choose between 2 intending to pull 2 to 2NT, upgrading to a game force, downgrading to a weak hand, or transfer to spades and then bid 2NT. Note that in standard giving a transfer to spades and then bidding 3 shows a game forcing 5-5.
  • With a game forcing hand bid 2, and if partner responds 2 jump to three of your shorter major (Smolen) or longer major (no Smolen).

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#3 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 12:35

If you are willing to play a version of Puppet Stayman then this works Bridge: 5-card puppet Stayman (chrisryall.net) 1NT-2C-2D-3

Alternatively look at Quest transfers, in lieu of Smolen; these cater for the invitational hands.


Addition:
Going back to your question of what happens after 1NT-2-2-2M? opener raises to game when max. and invites when min. After the invite you raise when GF. This of course assumes you don't play some form of garbage Stayman.

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#4 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 12:57

View PostDavidKok, on 2023-December-07, 12:04, said:

The standard is:

  • With a weak hand, use Garbage or Crawling Stayman (bid 2, if partner bids 2M pass, if partner bids 2 pull to your major).
  • With an invitational hand with 54 transfer to hearts and then bid 2.


That's standard in your part of the world, but not all parts of the world. Over here it's more common for 1nt-2d-2h-2s to show 5-5 in majors inv, not 4-5.
If you are using crawling stayman to cater to weak hands (I think this is best, as there are a lot more weak hands in the majors than ones that evaluate to exactly an invite), and don't have the 4-5 inv sequence available, and don't use 1nt-2c-2d-2s as inv either, then basically you have to use a "pass or blast" approach with the inv hands if it starts 1nt-2c-2d. You either upgrade them to GF and use Smolen (or natural jump to 3 level) over 2d, or you downgrade and show a weak hand playing a safe partial.

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#5 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 13:22

My mistake, let me rephrase.

A lot of players aren't taught any continuations after a Stayman bid when they first learn of the convention, and as a result a lot of partnerships invent their own. This results in a million and one possible followup schemes, three of which are described above. Pick any set you prefer, provided you can convince your partner that it is good. Quite likely there is a dominant version in your region and it might be wise to pick that one up. I think most of the schemes are incredibly mediocre so you won't lose (or gain) anything by picking a particular one. I primarily consider it a fun exercise in exploring system options.
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#6 User is offline   jdiana 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 13:48

This may be too basic but, when I was playing, my partner and I used Smolen with a GF 5-4 hand. With an invitational 5-4 hand, we would bid the longer major at the two level. So, e.g., 1NT-2-2-2 would show 5 hearts, 4 spades and an invitational hand. This can, of course, wrong-side the contract but we were willing to live with that for the sake of simplicity.

P.S. If you don't want to use Smolen, I think Standard American is to jump a level and bid the longer major at the three level so, e.g., 1NT-2-2-3 would show 5 hearts, 4 spades and a GF hand. So you can distinguish between invitational and GF hands that way, but Smolen isn't too hard to remember and has the advantage of having the strong hand as the declarer.

Also, for 5-5 hands, with an invitational hand, we transfer to hearts then bid 2; with a GF hand, we transfer to spades then bid 3. So, 5-4 hands go through Stayman, 5-5 hands go through Jacoby transfers, and we can distinguish 5-4 inv, 5-5 inv, 5-4 GF, and 5-5 GF hands.
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#7 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 16:13

View PostDavidKok, on 2023-December-07, 13:22, said:

A lot of players aren't taught any continuations after a Stayman bid when they first learn of the convention, and as a result a lot of partnerships invent their own. This results in a million and one possible followup schemes, three of which are described above. Pick any set you prefer, provided you can convince your partner that it is good. Quite likely there is a dominant version in your region and it might be wise to pick that one up. I think most of the schemes are incredibly mediocre so you won't lose (or gain) anything by picking a particular one. I primarily consider it a fun exercise in exploring system options.


I find that a bit condescending, as it is possible to modulate the "standard" US agreements about Stayman/Smolen and transfer-then-OM to handle all possible 5M4M of all possible strength (weak, INV, game, ISL). I had one partner who handled this matrix effortlessly, alas I struggled on a Friday night. But as this is well beyond the memory load of most players I agree it would be better to simplify things in some way. My own somewhat radical solution was to put all 5M4M (and even 5M3M) throught Stayman, but there are simpler alternatives and compromises available. In particular, traditional garbage and crawling are over-rated in frequency and value.
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#8 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2023-December-07, 23:34

View PostStephen Tu, on 2023-December-07, 12:57, said:

That's standard in your part of the world, but not all parts of the world. Over here it's more common for 1nt-2d-2h-2s to show 5-5 in majors inv, not 4-5.
If you are using crawling stayman to cater to weak hands (I think this is best, as there are a lot more weak hands in the majors than ones that evaluate to exactly an invite), and don't have the 4-5 inv sequence available, and don't use 1nt-2c-2d-2s as inv either, then basically you have to use a "pass or blast" approach with the inv hands if it starts 1nt-2c-2d. You either upgrade them to GF and use Smolen (or natural jump to 3 level) over 2d, or you downgrade and show a weak hand playing a safe partial.


Why restrict yourself to 5-5?
Assuming you play balanced only; If partner raises neither nor , but bids NT then this implies 32xx so you can bid with 5
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#9 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2023-December-08, 04:10

View Postpescetom, on 2023-December-07, 16:13, said:

I find that a bit condescending, as it is possible to modulate the "standard" US agreements about Stayman/Smolen and transfer-then-OM to handle all possible 5M4M of all possible strength (weak, INV, game, ISL). I had one partner who handled this matrix effortlessly, alas I struggled on a Friday night. But as this is well beyond the memory load of most players I agree it would be better to simplify things in some way. My own somewhat radical solution was to put all 5M4M (and even 5M3M) throught Stayman, but there are simpler alternatives and compromises available. In particular, traditional garbage and crawling are over-rated in frequency and value.
There is going to be a tradeoff no matter which option you choose. I think garbage and crawling stayman and having many different invitational sequences are all overrated. Realistically I think most approaches are fine and the majority of artificial continuations rarely come up and frequently don't gain when they do.
I've played incredibly detailed continuations for several years and not only did this only come up a handful of times, natural bidding would have worked just as well on those hands. I enjoyed playing nuanced followups but this had no impact on my score, and I recommend picking a set you enjoy.
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#10 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2023-December-08, 09:37

View Postmw64ahw, on 2023-December-07, 23:34, said:

Why restrict yourself to 5-5?
Assuming you play balanced only; If partner raises neither nor , but bids NT then this implies 32xx so you can bid with 5


It's not uncommon to open 1nt on 22(45) or 22(36) shapes with a lot of points in short suits. It's a bigger sac IMO to not be allowed to open 1nt on these than to just guess high or low on the occasional 45 majors with exactly inv values.
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#11 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2023-December-08, 09:59

View PostStephen Tu, on 2023-December-08, 09:37, said:

It's not uncommon to open 1nt on 22(45) or 22(36) shapes with a lot of points in short suits. It's a bigger sac IMO to not be allowed to open 1nt on these than to just guess high or low on the occasional 45 majors with exactly inv values.

Makes sense-I get to show these hands via 1-1R-1NT so my 1NT is purely balanced
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#12 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2023-December-08, 16:38

View Postjdiana, on 2023-December-07, 13:48, said:

This may be too basic but, when I was playing, my partner and I used Smolen with a GF 5-4 hand. With an invitational 5-4 hand, we would bid the longer major at the two level. So, e.g., 1NT-2-2-2 would show 5 hearts, 4 spades and an invitational hand. This can, of course, wrong-side the contract but we were willing to live with that for the sake of simplicity.

This! Has everyone else lost sight that this discussion is in the N/B forum?
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#13 User is offline   Flem72 

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Posted 2023-December-09, 08:50

There is this little gem called Better Wally (don't know why). It works with all 54 major responding hands, weak, inv, GF or SI:With 4S-5H weak, transfer to H to play
With 4S-5H inv or GF, bid 2C. After 2D, bid 2S and place the contract when Opener bids 3H or 2NWith 5S-4H weak, inv or GF bid 2C. After 2D, bid 2H as transfer to 2S, then place the contract.With any 54 slammish, use the traditional Smolen sequence, 1N-2C-2D-3M (4cder).Bonus: It works with 5cdMajor Stayman.

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#14 User is online   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2023-December-10, 03:14

View Postjillybean, on 2023-December-08, 16:38, said:

This! Has everyone else lost sight that this discussion is in the N/B forum?

No.

But you realize, that if you play this version, you give up on crawling stayman.
No big loss, but you need to be aware of this.

The problem with short cut answers is, that the consequences are usually not spelled out.

The first decision to make:
Can a Stayman inquiry be made with a weak hand? (*)
If it can be made with a weak hand, does a weak hand need to pass any answer to the
inquiry or can it continue looking for a 4-3?

The difference is, that you can either use or cant use Stayman with a weak hand
with 44 in the majors and diamond shortage.

As others have said, looseing this option is no big deal, but you need to make the
decision before hand and stick with it.

The rest of the structure followes from the decision, which version of Stayman you
play.

In general: Pick a reasonable text book (Audrey Grant or someone else) learn described
system and you will be fine. If it is reasonable, the system will work

(*) Does it even promise a (unspecified) 4 card major.
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#15 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-December-31, 20:25

View PostDavidKok, on 2023-December-07, 12:04, said:

The standard is:

BBO Standard is actually (officially):

  • With a weak hand, transfer to your 5 card suit.
  • With an invitational hand, bid 2 and continue with two of your longer major over partner's 2.
  • With a game forcing hand bid 2, and jump to three of your longer major over partner's 2.



Crawling Stayman may be a part of BBO Advanced (I forget) but saying it is standard for the MBC is massively overstating the case imho.
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#16 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2024-January-01, 11:47

View PostGilithin, on 2023-December-31, 20:25, said:


Crawling Stayman may be a part of BBO Advanced (I forget) but saying it is standard for the MBC is massively overstating the case imho.


I don't believe there is any standard at all in the MBC. What is discussed here are local standards, North America or elsewhere in the world.
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#17 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2024-January-01, 12:39

View Postjillybean, on 2024-January-01, 11:47, said:

I don't believe there is any standard at all in the MBC. What is discussed here are local standards, North America or elsewhere in the world.

BBO Standard is a system. A long time ago it was promoted as the system standard in much the same way as the rival bridge platform of the time did their system, and the availability of FD made it easy to use even if you did not know all of the details. You do not hear so much about it any more but it is still there and closest thing to a standard method that BBO has.
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#18 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2024-January-01, 12:53

That's fine, as long as you make it clear that this is "BBO Standard" and not some widely adopted standard.
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#19 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2024-January-01, 15:07

View PostGilithin, on 2024-January-01, 12:39, said:

closest thing to a standard method that BBO has.

Closer than GiB 2/1?
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#20 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2024-January-01, 18:31

View Postnullve, on 2024-January-01, 15:07, said:

Closer than GiB 2/1?

I think GIB 2/1 gets promoted more now, perhaps due to the change of management and platform with FD no longer being available. But the majority of social players out there still are not using GF 2/1 responses and both the GIB system and BBO Advanced fall into that category. Perhaps a Yellow can point out what the official BBO position is on this these days. It certainly seems to have changed somewhat since I first signed up.
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