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Shill I, Shall I??

There are pros and cons in opening a weak 1NT as you can see when we look at the results on this board …

Board 25 from Thursday 18/10/2018
Dealer N EW Vul

Board#25 18/10/2018

Nearly every North opened 1NT and became declarer after three passes. Some Easts led the king of hearts, after which it was crucial that East was later able to switch to the queen of clubs. Or, some Easts started with the queen of clubs, in my view an inferior lead, but the same result.

Basically, this deal could be said to be a non-event. But that’s not how things happened at our table. Those of you who have read my thoughts on 1NT openings and continuations will know that we do not open 1NT if we have two weak suits. North opened 1D and I responded 1S, which North raised to 2S. That was the final contract and I easily made an overtrick, for what was a 92% score, surpassed only by one NS pair who had valiantly bid to 4S and made!

There is much more to this discussion. The 1NT opening was first introduced to make life difficult for opponents. But since then, systems have been devised to enable pairs to compete against the 1NT opening, even with marginal hands. Have you heard of “DONT” which stands for “Disturb Opponents’ No Trump”. I don’t play or subscribe to the DONT doctrine, but prefer to have a way to bid hands which have two suits of at least four cards. Hearts is a suit often missed in competition after 1NT, but our specific defence to 1NT is to bid 2C or 2D to indicate that minor and least four hearts. You can see where that is leading here. If East is game enough, East can bid 2C over North’s 1NT. If not, and East passes, as will South, West can dive into the murky waters with a 2C bid! Risky, you say? For East, yes, but less so for West, and you’ll find that at match points it is often a case of ‘who dares wins’. If NS go down NOT vulnerable, even down two for +100 will not be as great for EW if they can make +110. Simple maths really, so worth the risk I think.

My new book “13 Tricks and Evil Acol” has more to say about this particular topic. Great holiday reading or Christmas present for a partner. Email me at for more information.

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