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Bidding after a 1NT Opening

My regular partner and I open 1NT with 10-12 HCP in 1st and 2nd seat, and with 12-15 HCP in 3rd and 4th seat, regardless of vulnerability. Both are considered in the "weak" range for this opening since most people play a 15-17 range. We have a complicated run-out system in place for when opponents want to punish us with a double, but when we have competitive hands and game-forcing hands, we have relied heavily on the conventions we've been playing since we first learned SAYC. So I have researched a bit, and I think I like the following set of responses best:

2C = Stayman

2D = Transfer to hearts

2H = Transfer to spades

2S = Transfer to clubs OR balanced invitation to 3NT

2NT = Transfer to diamonds OR weak 2-suiter in the minors

3C = Invitational values, 6+ clubs

3D = Invitational values, 6+ diamonds

3H = GF, 1-3-5-4 or 1-3-4-5 shape

3S = GF, 3-1-5-4 or 3-1-4-5 shape

3NT = To play

4C = Puppet to 4H

4D = Puppet to 4S

4M = To play

4NT = Quantitative Raise

5m = To play

As my wife who went to law school told me, "show me all the wrinkles." Some of these are easier to explain than others, so let me start there.

I've seen many experts have a bid at the 3-level reserved for the GF 5431 with 54 in the minors. Apparently, it's a tough situation to deal with when deciding where to play, so we let opener make that decision instead.

The 2S and 2NT dual-meaning bids are a nice invention and work rather well. Opener responds to 2S as if partner has the balanced invitational hand: 2NT shows min and 3C shows a max. This way responder can pass 2NT if he actually had a balanced invite or bid anything else to show clubs (3C after the 2NT response would be a weak, sign-off bid), or responder can pass 3C if he had a weak club hand or bid another suit with a stronger club hand or bid 3NT.

Opener can respond to 2NT with only two bids as well: 3C shows a tolerance for clubs in case responder has the 2-suited hand (responder will bid 3D with a weak diamond hand or bid anything else with a stronger diamond hand) and 3D shows 2 clubs (either way if responder is weak, 3D is where he wants to be).

Some other interesting things:

With a weak 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2C first. If opener bids a major, great! If he bids 2D, though, just bid 2H to show that hand, and he can pass or correct to 2S.

With an invitational 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2D first, partner will bid 2H, then you bid 2S. Opener will pick the better fit and go to game with a max. Please notice that we do NOT play super-accepts in this system.

With a game-forcing 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2H first, partner will bid 2S, then you bid 3H.

With 54 in the majors and invitational values, bid 2C (Stayman) then if opener bids 2D, responder bids 2S. This doesn't distinguish which suit is 5 cards, so opener bids 2NT to ask, and 3C shows 5 hearts while 3D shows 5 spades.

With 54 in the majors and game-forcing values, we employ the Smolen convention: bid 2C (Stayman) first, then if opener bids 2D, responder jumps to 3 of a major to show the 4-card major suit. You can reverse this if you like.

With a 4-card major and a longer minor, it's important to distinguish between invitational hands and game-forcing hands. With an invitational hand, bid 2C (Stayman) and if partner doesn't bid your major, bid 3 of the minor. With a game-forcing hand, transfer into the minor first and then bid 3 of the major.

With an invitational or better 2-suited hand in the minors, transfer into the clubs, then bid 3D. This is forcing, and opener can bid 3NT with stoppers in the majors, 4C/4D to show a min and preference for the bid suit, and 5 of a minor to show a max with support in that suit.

With an invitational major/minor 2-suited hand, transfer into the major first, then bid 3 of the minor. With a game-forcing hand of this shape, transfer into the major and then bid 4 of the minor. This is the only part of responding to 1NT I dislike. You miss the ability to be in 3NT, so you'll have to have a very strong case for being in a suit contract over NT when bidding a major/minor GF hand.

If there are any wrinkles I've left off, I would be happy to hear. Happy bidding!

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