Bidding 3NT over 3 of a minor By Marty Bergen

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If you’d like to bid after an opponent’s three-level preempt, think 3NT.

By Marty Bergen
On 8 October, 2016 At 17:08

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Source: ACBL

Overcalls — Easy as Pie  

If you’d like to bid after an opponent’s three-level preempt, think 3NT. 4 and 4 are usually the most desirable game contracts, but once an opponent shows a seven-card suit, you should reconsider. 3NT is now the #1 priority. Why?

When one opponent shows a long suit and several short suits, you have good reason to be concerned about ruffs and bad trump splits. These would be a big problem in a suit contract but notrump is a different story. If you’re concerned about their long suit in notrump, don’t worry. It’s very unlikely that the preemptor will ever get in to run his long suit. Entryless defenders are harmless in notrump.

A 3NT overcall includes a very wide range of high-card points and distribution. With a balanced hand, 16 HCP is the usual minimum, while the maximum is a lot higher. It is comforting to have two stoppers, but one is okay. A–x or A–x–x is the most desirable single stopper because a holdup play will cut the opponents communication.

West North East South
3 ?

 Q842  A9  AKJ  KQ52;  Bid 3NT.

You might belong in spades, but if partner holds  K653, you could have three trump losers. You have no such worry in notrump. If you double and partner bids 4 or 4 , you are not well placed.

 K6  A85  AKQJ84  J2 Bid 3NT.

Definitely gorgeous diamonds, but the time to talk about them is when they’re on your finger. Picture partner with just the A and decide where you’d like to play after a heart lead.

 K93   KJ5  AKJ952. Bid 3NT.

Many players would be afraid to overcall 3NT with a singleton. Bidding 4, however, would represent “scared bridge.” The opponents will not know that you have only one diamond. Your chances of making 3NT are infinitely better than making 5.

Look, Ma — no stopper

You don’t need a stopper in opener’s suit to balance with 1NT. All you need is 10 to 14 HCP. Once your right-hand opponent passes opener’s bid, you know partner must have some values. He’ll often have good cards in their suit. If you don’t have a suit to bid or the right shape to double, a stopperless 1NT is your only alternative to a pass.

By the way: As a passed hand, you need only 9 to 11 HCP to balance with 1NT.

West North East South
 1  Pass Pass ?

Bid 1NT with AJ10  K7 KJ53  6432 and also with  A2  QJ43 A1042  J75

West North East South
 1  Pass Pass ?

Bid 1NT with  K652  Q2 1064  AKJ9 and  A4  AQ10  984  J7643.

West North East South
 1  Pass Pass ?

Bid 1NT with  K4  8742  KQ94 A73 and  74 972  AJ108  AQ92.

West North East South
 1  Pass Pass ?

Bid 1NT with  8432  K5  AQ9   KJ84 and   J94  92  AK87  A1062.

Don’t force the issue

After partner overcalls at the one level, the bid of a new suit should not be forcing. I don’t recommend that a new-suit bid be forcing, even by an unpassed hand. The opening bidder has promised the values to open the bidding, but partner has not. After an auction such as:

West North East South
 1 1 Pass ?

 4  KQ10732  843  A52 I’d like to bid 2 and show my nice suit without forcing North to bid again when all he has is a minimum overcall.

 A4  KQ10732  A83  A5 Cuebid 2. You have such a great hand that you can’t risk partner’s passing a 2 response. If partner rebids 2, you’ll bid 3 —- which is 100% forcing.

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