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Do you play the ‘Weak No Trump’? And if so, how weak? And how do you avoid the pitfalls?

Board 7 from Thursday 27/09/20118
Dealer S All Vul

Board#7 27/09/2018

Some of the less adventurous like to play a ‘variable’ 1NT according to vulnerability: 12-14 Not Vulnerable and 15-17 Vulnerable, which really gets into the realms of a mixture of Acol and Standard American. Let’s forget about that and just play a “12-14” 1NT. But, having said that, the suggested “12-14” is not set in stone, and there are times when a 12 count is not a 12 count. I make a habit of deducting one point on all totally flat hands, i.e. 4333. We have all been adding points for doubletons, singletons, and voids, so why not deduct one point for a 4333? That makes total sense, because dead flat hands are not very productive most of the time.

South’s hand here, despite being a 12 count, would be the worst 12 count I have ever seen, and I would never dream of opening such an “11” count with an opening bid of 1NT, especially if vulnerable.

Now look at the North hand. If South has opened 1NT, the North hand could not be much better in support: “An opening bid opposite an opening bid equals game”. North even has three tens to go with the quite bulky twelve, so will normally bid Stayman, find South with four hearts, and happily bid 3NT. If West has managed to stay quiet during the proceedings, West might double 3NT and take the first five tricks, then lead a heart to East for down two. -500 will be South’s reward for opening this hand 1NT. Passing as dealer is a far more sensible option. Then, EW are likely to strike some trouble when West opens 1D and East responds 1S, then 2C from West, etc.