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Conventions: Muppet Stayman


This Convention appears in Madala-Bocchi Convention Card.

Several versions of the Convention for you to choose the explanation that better suits you:

Muppet Stayman Version I

3 asks partner to describe his hand … The answers:

  • 3 shows at least one 4 card major. If Responder was looking for a 4 – 4 fit they now bid the major they do not have or bid 4 to tell partner to pick the major. Responder could also have bid 3 to give Opener the chance to show a 5 card major.
  • 3 denies a 4 or 5 card major.
  • 3 shows 5 spades.
  • 3NT shows 5 hearts. Responder bids 4 to transfer to hearts if that is where they want to play.

Why does this version of [ilink url=»»]Puppet Stayman[/ilink] reverse the meaning of the 3 and 3NT bids:

When Opener bids 3 to deny a 4 or 5 card major it gives Responder the room to show 5 spades. Responder would bid like this with 5 spades and 4 hearts or 5 spades and 3 hearts.

Muppet Extended Version II

Muppet Stayman is simple [ilink url=»»]Puppet Stayman[/ilink] but with Opener’s 3NT and 3 bids reversed (3NT shows five hearts; 3 denies a 4+ majors). This allows Responder, over 3, to bid 3 to show 5/4, an otherwise unbiddable shape below 3NT when playing Puppet.

So, suppose you have 5/4 and partner bids 3. You have both majors, but they are imbalanced. so, bid 3 to show spades. If partner also has spades, he can make sues, which could be nice for slam purposes. If he does not, you can next bid 4H to complete the picture.

Now, suppose that you have 5-5 in the majors. Muppet still works. If partner has a 4-card major, nothing can go wrong. If he has a 5-card major, wow. A lot, you hear 3. So, bid 3 to show 5/4. If Opener declines (3NT), you can bid 4 to complete this picture, as well.

Version III: Muppet is a Modification of Puppet Stayman.

Essentially Muppet Stayman interchanges the meaning of the 3 and 3NT and 3 and 3NT bids.

It is significantly superior to [ilink url=»»]Puppet Stayman[/ilink] in three ways

1. It allows the strong hand to declare all major suit contracts.

2. It avoids the often disastrous use of a transfer bid when responder holds 5 cards in one major and 3 cards in the other major and allows responder to look for a 5/3 fit in either major. Holding 5-3-3-2 ()  responder bids 3 to first look for a 5/3 heart fit.

Opener will rebid 3 with a 4 card major and the auction proceeds as in standard puppet. And opener will rebid 3 with a 5 spades. Now for the modifications of Puppet: Opener will bid 3 rather than 3NT to deny a 4 or 5 card major. If Responder holds 5 spades and 3 hearts, responder will rebid 3NT to show the 5 card spade suit enabling opener to declare in 4 with 3 spades and the right sort of hand. If responder does not hold 5 spades, responder rebids 3 relaying opener back to 3NT.

3. When holding 5 hearts and 4 spades, responder can transfer to 3 and to show 4 spades will rebid 3NT after opener accepts the transfer.

This allows the strong hand to declare in 4 with a 4-4 spade fit. If responder does not have 4 spades, then after opener accepts the transfer, responder rebids 3 relaying opening to 3nt.

4. Muppet also allows opener to bypass a transfer to 3 and rebidding 3 when holding 5 spades and 2 hearts. Using both Jacoby and Texas transfers, if responder holds a 6 card heart suit and mild slam interest, responder will transfers to 3 at 3-level and, when opener bypasses the transfer to rebid 3, responder will have to rebid 4 to retransfer opener to 4 (showing mild slam interest and inviting opener to make a slam try).

If you understand and use puppet stayman after any strong 2NT opening or 22-2NT sequence, it is easy to remember Muppet if you just remember that responder must always bid in such a way that the strong hand will declare the hand in a NT or Major suit contract.

Coupled with the use of 2NT-3 for a minor suit slam try, Muppet always brings home good results.

I also use Muppet successfully over a 1NT opening. This has the added advantage of showing less than game values when making any 2-level responses to 1nt openings.

–Ron Koshoshek


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