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M J Bridge

Bidding

Hands

Puppet Stayman


In the basic method of five-card Stayman responder will frequently find himself declaring a contract of four major from the weaker holding.


Clearly it would be better if the opening 2NT bidder were declarer.

To this end this method adds in a second level of transfer bids (puppet bids).


This is the method most frequently met in tournament play.

It is my recommended method from an intermediate level and beyond.


Puppet Stayman does not differ from basic five-card Stayman in the initial stages of the auction:-


with a five-card major opener will bid it;

with no five-card major but at least one four-card major opener will bid 3;

and without either a four-card or a five-card major opener will bid 3NT.


Partner bid 3NT


Partner has denied both a four-card and a five-card major.


It will almost always be correct to pass, or to raise to some number of no trumps as in limit raises, at this point.

Intermediate and above

Opener’s rebid

Context  -  Responder’s rebid. - partner opened 2NT - you bid Stayman.

Two balanced hands.

No 4-4 major suit fit.

You are probably in the best place.

Pass.

K 7 5 2

Q T 8 4

7 5

K 9 7

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3NT

-

?





Two balanced hands.

First you tried for a major suit fit.

Now you must simply choose the correct number of no trumps.

Bid 6NT (facing a 21,22 no trump).

K 7 5 2

K Q 8 4

7 5

K 9 7

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3NT

-

?






Bidding a new suit


The exception will be when you hold a long minor (at least five cards) and a three-or four-card major in an (extremely) unbalanced hand.


Your bid in a minor suit at this point should be natural, and game-forcing if below game-level.

First you searched for a 5-3 heart fit.

Now you start the search for the best slam in clubs or no trumps.

Bid 4 - natural and forcing.

2

K Q 3

7 5 3

A Q 8 7 6 2

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3NT

-

?





If partner responds in either major you will raise to game on the known 5-3 fit - the danger of a club weakness in no trumps has been averted, and a ruffing trick is likely.

If partner bids 3 then bid 3NT.

T 7 4

A T 4

T 8 7 5 2

Q 5

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3x

-

?





Well, you tried - a heart fit would have been most welcome.

But now all you can do is bid 3NT - at least the spade suit is well-covered.

K 7

T 8 4

Q 7 5 2

K 9 7 5

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






Partner bid 3 or 3


Partner has shown you a five-card suit.


With less than three-card support you will usually bid some number of no trumps.


With three-card or better support you will usually raise to game, or instigate the search for a slam.

4NT will be RKCB.


Bidding a new suit


Tempting is to play any bid in a new suit as control-showing, agreeing partner’s suit.


This method is perfectly playable and will be encountered not infrequently.

The problem with this approach is with the hand mentioned above - unbalanced and with a long minor.  Certainly such a hand can be shown with an immediate jump to five of the minor, but you will then lose the opportunity to show the minor suit and distinguish between game-going and slam-try hands.

If 4 agrees spades then clearly this bid will not be available to you.

2

K Q 7 3

5 3

A T 8 7 6 2

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






The other major


Well worth considering is that the lowest-level bid in the other major agrees partner’s major and shows a slam interest.

Either of the two minor suits may then be bid naturally as above.

You have located a heart fit, and you must have at least a slam interest.

Both 6 and 4NT (RKCB) would be reasonable.

Alternatively bid 3, agreeing hearts with a slam interest and paving the way for a sequence of control-showing bids.

T 4

A T 7

T 8 7 5 4 2

A Q

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






Partner bid 3


Partner holds at least one four-card major.


This is where puppet Stayman differs from basic five-card Stayman.

If you bid your four-card naturally (as in basic five-card Stayman) you will frequently find yourself as declarer with partner’s big hand on table for all to see.


You have no four-card major


If your Stayman bid was based on just a three-card major then you will now usually bid some number of no trumps as in limit raises.

Partner holds at least one four-card major.

You have four spades.

Bid 3, promising four spades and not four hearts.

Partner will choose between 3NT and 4.

K 7 5 2

Q T 4

7 5

K 9 8 7

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






You have one four-card major


Rather than bidding the major which you hold you must bid the other major - the transfer or ‘puppet’ bid:-


thus, a rebid of 3 by responder promises four hearts and not four spades;

and a rebid of 3 by responder promises four spades and not four hearts.


Opener is then fully informed and is able to choose the optimum contract as well as become the declarer on the hand.

Partner does not hold a five-card major.

Bid 3NT.

K 7 2

Q T 4

K 5

T 9 8 7 4

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






And, as above, you can still make a natural bid (at least five-card) in a minor (forcing if below game-level) on an unbalanced hand unsuited to a no trump contract if no fit is forthcoming.

First you searched for a 5-3 heart fit.

Now you start the search for the best slam in clubs or no trumps.

Bid 4 - natural and forcing.

2

K Q 3

7 5 3

A Q 8 7 6 2

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?






You have two four-card majors


Not everyone plays this extension, but it is recommended as it extends the principle of putting the play in partner’s hand whilst also giving a little extra information.


When holding both majors:-


bid 4 if you have thoughts of a slam;

bid 4 if game is the limit of your ambitions.

Partner holds at least one four-card major.

You want to be in game, but no higher.

Bid 4.

Partner will bid game in either hearts or spades.

K 7 5 2

J T 8 4

7 5

Q 9 7

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?





Partner holds at least one four-card major.

There is every possibility of a slam here.

Bid 4.

If partner does no more than bid game in a major you might have a further try.

A 7 5 2

Q J 8 4

7 5

K 9 7

LHO

Pard

RHO

You


2NT

-

3

-

3

-

?





This page last updated 12th Aug 2019