Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jennbridge: Off-Shape No-Trump Openings

I have recently been experimenting with 1NT openings that aren't the classic 4333, 4432 and 5332 patterns with some success.  I have found that many 5422 patterns are often best handled with a 1NT opening, and even some 6322 hands with a long minor are good 1NT openings.   Here is an example from a recent club game.

As dealer I held the following hand:

♠  xx
♦ Qx

This hand has a difficult rebid if it is opened 1 Club and partner responds 1 Spade.  It is too strong to rebid 1NT or 2 Clubs.  It isn't strong enough to reverse with 2 Hearts.  The value bid, 3 Clubs, is awkward as it suppresses a good heart suit.  So I opened it 1NT.  Jenn bid 2 Clubs, Stayman, I showed my heart suit, she invited with 2 Spades, showing 4 spades and invitationl values, and I accepted with 3NT since I had such a nice source of tricks.  (Note: Jenn and I have an agreement that with both majors, we show hearts first.  So she can invite with 2 Spades since I might have both majors.  If she invites instead with 2NT, she is denying 4 spades.)

LHO led a small diamond, and I looked at:

♠ Q9xx
♥ Kxx
♣ T

♠  xx

RHO played the ten of diamonds and I won with the queen.  Now, if LHO has the ace of diamonds, likely given the lead, I was a favorite as I could see 5 clubs, 2 hearts and 2 diamonds for my 9 tricks.  The opponents would have to cash out 4 spade tricks without blocking the suit, which isn't easy with this holding in dummy.  So I led a diamond at trick 2 to LHO's ace.  LHO actually shifted to a heart, so the hand was over as I quickly claimed my 9 tricks for a good score. 

Good luck!

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