The Bart Convention

Bob Crosby
Bob Crosby

Sunday, September 28, 2003 12:33 AM

Hand Evaluation – Forcing 1NT ( BART )

The forcing NT bid is bid on multiple hand types so many times can lead to confusing auctions. The rank of the bully suit spades quite often “buries” the heart suit after a forcing 1NT bid. It is very important to get to your 4 games after a spade opener & a forcing 1NT response . It is also very important  to have a way of showing strong support for partner’s minor. With a heart opener and a forcing NT , you have 2 by responder as a very useful bid to show strong minor support for partner. After a spade opener & a minor rebid , with a forcing 1NT bid initially we have no luxury.

 After a spade opener , the forcing 1NT with a 3 jump was designed to get to your 4 heart games . I think this a bad way of doing this since the 3 bid quite often just lands you in the wrong partial and a minus. The 3 bid just robbed you of useful bidding space & actually pre-empted the opening bid. Playing 2/3 non forcing to game as a 2/1, leaves the 3 jump by responder for another systemic use. With a spade opener followed by a 2 rebid , BART is a convention that solves both the heart problem and the strong minor fit problem . The only thing you lose is the ability to play 2 by responder after a club rebid by the opening  bidder .

 The BART convention sacrifices the natural 2 bid by responder to get us out of our problem . A 2 bid by the forcing 1NT is artificial & a one round force. BART assumes the 1NT responder will have a good heart hand or a strong club fit when she bids 2 . With a normal weak heart hand , the 1NT bidder just simply bids 2 directly after the 2 rebid . With an invitational heart hand or a strong club raise , the forcing 1NT bids a forcing 2 instead . Opener assumes the heart try hand first so must bid 2 with 3 or 2 good hearts.  2 by opener  is the death response for hearts showing a singleton or void in hearts or a bad hand with 2 small hearts. 2NT after the BART 2 shows 5-5 in the blacks , 3 by opener shows 6-5 in the blacks. This bidding allows you to get to 4 hearts with a heart fit of 3 or 2 hearts in the opener’s  hand or inviting  by now bidding 3. Getting to 4 with input from the 3 card side , a civilized way of getting to your heart game.

 The beauty of the BART bid its duality as it also shows the strong club raises . After a BART 2  , 3 by responder shows a strong club raise and 2NT a club raise with 4 . If the BART bidder now bids diamonds , it’s OOPS partner we should have been in 2 diamonds. One extra bid is thrown into the mix.  If opener had bid hearts over the BART 2 , a 2 bid now is the hard to bid 9-10 HCP hands holding  2. The direct 3 bid after 2 is now a splinter in clubs since BART handles the heart hands.  Excellent !

When playing BART , give responder the maximum opportunity to use the bid. This means that opener can rebid 2 on a doubleton with difficult hand types. This now means that a 2 rebid means at least a 4 card diamond suit. Bid 2 with a 6 card major that has poor suit quality with up to a hand in the Goren jump rebid range. Responder is not allowed to pass 2 with two of your major , so must give preference. A 2 rebid is in order with the difficult Flannery hands after a forcing 1NT. Remember to alert partners 2 rebid as possibly being 2 cards in length.

 After a spade opener , forcing 1NT bid and a diamond rebid,  we do not have the luxury of BART. However in my mind , a jump to 3 is still a bad bid . Think about it . Opener can 5 spades and 5 diamonds so you have just jammed the auction maybe to the  4 level !!  . Partner can have no hearts or a singleton heart so you are way too high . I think it is best to just bid 2 forcing one round after a  bid by opener as a partnership agreement. Now , if opener has a good hand in support of hearts , she will make the heart raise . With a weak heart hand by responder , you are forced to play the partial in 3 ( similar to the BART 3 bid ) .

 You now have all the bases covered to show strong minor raises after a forcing 1NT . Use 2 after a heart opener , BART after a spade opener with a club rebid . In addition , a 2 forcing  bid after a spade opener with a diamond rebid ( only ) . Voilla !