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Conventions: The ambiguous 2♣ response over 1NT opening

Source: By Gianantonio Castiglioni

Gianantonio Castiglioni
Gianantonio Castiglioni

The widely known Stayman convention was invented in UK during the 2nd world war by Mr. Marx and , at the same time, in USA by Mr. Rapee. Samuel Stayman was the steady bridge partner of Mr. Rapee.

Favourably impressed by his partner treatment, he wrote an article about it , that was published by Bridge World and, from that moment on, the convention was known under his name. Apparently also Mr. Marx wanted to publish an article on the same topic , but publication had to be delayed due to paper scarcity in UK during the 2nd world war.

Since the very beginning, the convention had two versions , forcing and not forcing, depending on whether opener re-bid, after partner 2, was passable or not. Now a days, the great majority of average bridge players uses the forcing version since the condition to bid 2, in response to 1NT opening bid, requires the bidder to have 8+ HCP. Such condition represents a serious limitation because all following hands can not be dealt with in the best way :

a) Two suited hand with majors 5-4 with competitive ( 0-6 HCP ) or inviting ( 6-7 HCP) strength.

b) Three suited hand with S/V in  and competitive ( 0-6 HCP ) or inviting ( 6-7 HCP) strength. (Sometimes called Garbage Stayman)

c) Two suited hand with majors 5-5 with competitive ( 0-6 HCP ) strength.

d) 4 cards major and 5 cards minor in a G.F. hand.

In the 4 above mentioned cases, dealt with in detail in each specific subject, without making use of the ambiguous 2 response, responder either has no bid or he has to settle for a transfer thus risking to miss a possible better fit in the other major. The 2 ambiguous response, promises 0+ HCP and simply asks opener whether he holds a 4 cards major with only three re-bids :

1NT 2
2 No 4 cards major
2 4 but does not deny 4
2 4 and denies 4

Over such 3 re-bids , responder can pass or can bid depending on the shape he is holding , as described in details in each specific chapter. A 2NT rebid from opener , meaning : I got both majors , has to be absolutely avoided because if responder is weak , he would be forced to bid at 3 level. It should be noted that the ambiguous 2 bid , does not cause any loss compared with the traditional 2 promising 8+ HCP, but allows us to manage in the best way, the bidding of the four above mentioned types of hands.


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