When partner opens 2NT or after the bid of 2, many partnerships employ the Puppet (3) Stayman Convention to try to fine a 5-3 or 4-4 major fit. However, a more popular option is to employ Muppet Stayman or Modified Puppet which is superior to Puppet 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 opener 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 2-2-2NT 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 usually brings home good results.
However, some may find this too complicated to remember if they have never used Puppet Stayman. Is there another option? Yes, you may use Flip-Flop Flannery Convention developed by Carolyn King and Dr. David S. Shade and published in the “Bridge World” magazine, February 1997.
The Flip-Flop Flannery Convention allows one to find a major suit fit regardless of the partnership distribution. In addition, it also employs the transfer principle allowing the 2NT bidder to become the declarer as in Muppet Stayman. The bids for the convention follow, after the bid of 2NT,
3 asks about length in the majors; the opener rebids:
|3||4-card unspecified majors; in his turn responder bids 3 with 4 hearts and 3 with 4 spades; and opener places the final contract in 3NT, 4, or 4.|
3 5-card heart suit, transfer; after the completed transfer by opener, responder bids are
|3||at most 3 spades 3NT|
|3NT||4 spades; thus if a fit is foun in spades opener become the declarer and places the contract|
3 transfer to spades, 5 spades but no hearts
3 transfer to 3NT, no 4-card or 5-card major
3NT 5 spades and 4 hearts
Using the Flip-Flop Flannery Convention, any fit the majors may be found withou going beyond the level of 3NT. And, the strong hand again becomes the declarer.
If you currently do not use Puppet or Muppet Stayman, you may what to try the Flip-Flop Flannery!