M J Bridge
Beginner and above
At its simplest -
Various refinements to the above are possible -
The 1NT opening bid gets the hand off your chest in one go. Any further contribution to the auction on your part will be in response to partner’s action.
Q J 6 2
A K 5 4
K 7 3
J T 6 2
A K 5 4
K 7 3
K Q 6 2
A K 5 4
A 7 3
Too strong to open 1NT.
Open 1♠ (some would prefer 1♦).
The 1NT opening bid describes a balanced hand.
Don’t fall into the trap of opening all 12-
The hand must be the right shape. It is a bid which describes shape as much as it describes strength.
If your hand isn’t balanced (or at least semi-
In the early days of bridge, playing a strong no trump, you were expected to have some kind of honour holding in every suit before opening 1NT.
Such days are long gone.
Many players retain a reluctance to open 1NT with an unstopped suit. They count amongst their numbers both beginners and experienced players -
The unstopped suit should not be something to fear. On the contrary it is something to expect. Let’s face it, a hand with exactly three points in each of four suits is not one to set the juices flowing. You have only to put AK in one suit and it will be inevitable that at least one of the other suits is extremely weak.
The important features of the bid are that it describes the hand-
If you happen to have a weakness between the two hands then it is quite possible that your opponents will take the first five or even six tricks in that suit. Don’t worry -
When two suits are wide open there is the potential for things to turn out badly, but usually this will not be the case. The priority is to bid your shape.
And if they happen to double then you will once in a while go for a substantial penalty, but this must be offset against those occasions on which you either reach the optimum low-
Looking ahead slightly you should not be afraid to bid to 1NT or 2NT with a weak suit -
It is, though, important that in a constructive ongoing auction both partners should strive to look for a better fit on their way to game.
K J 6 2
A 5 4
Q T 8 7 3
You have fourteen points and something in every suit, but the hand is nothing like the right shape for a 1NT opening bid.
Open 1♣, intending to rebid 1♠.
Can I open 1NT with a singleton?
Yes, by partnership agreement.
I prefer not to, but if it is a partnership agreement, then partner must announce the possibility each time.
If they are weaker than this then pass, and if they are stronger then bid one of a suit first.
Note that if you start with anything else you will not have an honest rebid available.
Can I open 1NT with an unstopped suit?
Yes, or even two unstopped suits if the shape is right.
This page last revised 10th Jun 2020
8 7 5
K Q 5
A K Q 4 2
1♣ would not be wrong, but modern practice is to open 1NT.
It will be rare that your opponents can take seven tricks in the majors before you get started.
The 12 to 14 point range specified above is the standard for Acol. It is almost certainly the range played by a vast majority of club players and it is the range recommended for those learning the game.
There is just a little leeway on 5-
Follow the links to help you decide whether the particular hand in front of you should be treated as balanced or unbalanced.
Hands containing singletons.
Personally I have misgivings about opening hands containing a singleton with 1NT, but you will be in excellent company if you choose, as a partnership agreement, to open 4-
There is also an eminent school of thought which chooses to treat singleton kings as Kx -
Following this line of thinking you would not hesitate from opening a fourteen point 4-
If you wish to follow such a route then you should study the relevant section of ‘The Blue Book’ on the ebu web-
If you do agree to open such hands with 1NT then I would suggest that not only should such hands satisfy some agreed strict criterion regarding the holding in the singleton suit but also that there should be no reasonable alternative way of bidding the hand.
Intermediate and above
However, even within the context of a weak no trump, many good partnerships will either modify the range in detail, or refine their assessment of the hand. Both of these refinements are recommended as you proceed beyond an improver method.
|Overcaller's rebid and beyond|
|Responder's rebid and beyond|
|The continuing auction|