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Let Me Ask You Some Questions

There has to be more to opening a weak 1NT than just that. You need to have some arrangement with partner about how to bid further if necessary. As well as that, what to do when an opponent bids over your 1NT opening. And, of course, what YOU can do when an opponent opens 1NT. The results on this very normal looking board varied considerably, from 3H (NOT doubled!) by North to 4H by East down one.

Board 7 from Thursday 12/04/2018.
Dealer S All Vul

Let me ask you some questions:

  • If you were North and West opened a 12-14 1NT, would YOU bid 2H?
  • If you were East and North passed, what would you bid if a) you don’t play transfers or b) if you play transfers?
  • If you were East, and North overcalled with 2H, what would be your bid?

The answers to those questions should be easy.
Firstly, North’s overcall. If you are able to make a natural 2H overcall, then DON’T. That is a ridiculous hand to make a vulnerable overcall with. The very reason that opponents open 1NT is that if you are tempted to overcall with rubbish, opponents can extract a suitable penalty. I will cover that shortly, but for the time being, suffice to say that North is not suicidal and does not overcall 2H.

The basic way to bid the East hand without transfers is to bid 3H which specifically asks for three or four card support. West has a doubleton, so bids 3NT. If playing transfers, East bids 2D which is transferred to 2H and East now bids 3NT which also shows the exact East hand: only FIVE hearts and 5332 shape. Simple enough, surely? So what was one East doing in 4H?

And if North overcalls in hearts, over West’s 1NT opening you should have a better way to penalise NS than to pass and hope that West makes a reopening double. West needs exact cards for that to happen, so I suggest you do what we do: DOUBLE a MINOR suit overcall for TAKEOUT, and a MAJOR suit takeout for PENALTY. That works perfectly here, and I suggest will work better than anything else in the long term. Playing takeout doubles after partner has opened 1NT really does not give you the best options.

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