M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



Partner opened 3NT

In the section on the opening bid I mentioned four possibilities for this bid.

The first of these was natural, balanced, and very strong.

I consider this approach to be long past its sell-by date and I shall give it no further consideration.

Intermediate and above

Not recommended

The Gambling 3NT

Secondly I discussed some possible versions of the gambling 3NT.

In the following I shall assume the weak version of this bid in which opener will have something like a seven-card minor headed by the AKQ and no more than a king or a queen outside.

There is a wide choice of possible continuations.

The following are more or less natural and intuitive, but feel free to agree something else if you wish.

Pass  is obviously natural and to play.  Some might agree to make this bid when holding nothing of any value, but more usually you will hold at least one quick trick in your hand, and ideally you will hold a prospective second trick and something of a stop in two suits;

4 is the rescue bid.  Opener should either pass or convert to diamonds.  Clearly this will be on a hand which is not good enough to pass as above.  There is also the option of passing initially and then rescuing after an opponent produces a double, but I would not recommend that approach as it tends to invite a further double;

4 and 4 are both natural and to play.  In principle at least they each promise a solid six-card suit;

5 is a ‘pass or correct’ bid expressing a desire to play at the five-level in partner’s minor.  It may be realistic or preemptive.

6 is also a ‘pass or correct’ bid, expressing a wish to play at slam level in partner’s minor suit.

You will have noted that I bypassed the bids of 4 and 4NT in the above.

The simplest way to play 4NT is as a variation on Blackwood.  Since partner has already promised the ace and king in his minor suit this bid can be used to ask for the other three aces, using responses of 5, 5 and 5 to show 1, 2, or 3 respectively.

4 is a potential playground for the creative minds amongst you.

Simplest is to play it in the same style as a 2 response to a multi-2.  That is a request to opener to pass if his suit is diamonds but to go the five-level if his suit is clubs.

Other possibilities typically try to locate a singleton in opener’s hand.  One possible set of continuations is shown on the Bridge Guys site.

A 5 3

Q 7 6

J T 4


Partner opened 3NT.

Partner’s suit must be diamonds.

You can count eight top tricks and a potential ninth provided that the opponents cannot kill you in hearts.

Well worth a try - pass.

T 9 5 2

8 3

J T 4

9 6 3 2

Partner opened 3NT.

3NT is not going to make.  A contract in partner’s minor suit must be a cheaper sacrifice.

Bid 4, asking partner to pass or correct.

8 7 5 4 3 2


A 4

J 6 3 2

Partner opened 3NT.

3NT looks doomed, but might you just make a club contract.

Bid 4, if you have agreed that this is a ‘pass or correct’ bid.

A K Q J 4 3

6 2

A 4

J T 3

Partner opened 3NT.

3NT must be in trouble on a heart lead, but eleven tricks look likely in either hearts or clubs.

But if four will do, why bid five and score less?

Bid 4 - to play.

Minor suit preempt

Partner’s bid shows a preempt in one of the minors.

It is unlikely that the suit will run as in the gambling 3NT.

More often than not you will bid a minor suit for partner to pass or correct.

J 8 7 4 3

9 6 2

K 4 2

J 3

Partner opened 3NT showing a minor suit preempt.

You certainly don’t want to be declaring 3NT.

Bid 4.

Partner will either pass or convert to 4.

But it is just conceivable that, once in a blue moon, you might take a punt on the no trump.

A 8 4 3

9 6 2

A Q 4

K J 7

Partner opened 3NT showing a minor suit preempt.

There is a fair chance that your minor suit holdings will convert partner’s holding into a running suit.

There are no guarantees, but I would be tempted to leave 3NT in, and just pray about the heart suit.


The Kabel 3NT

The following is a system of responses which concentrates specifically on responder’s ace holding. (An alternative system concentrates on single aces and specific kings.)

The responses follow a straightforward pattern:-

4   no aces

4, 4, 4, 5 - named ace

5, 5, 5, 6 - two aces in adjacent suits -the suit bid + the next higher ranking

4NT                  two aces in non-adjacent suits;

5NT                  three aces.

There is something to be said for interchanging the 5NT and 6 responses.

Opener’s first bid

Context  -  Responder’s first bid.