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Extended Romex Stayman
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There has been some discussion about variations of 5-card Stayman over 2NT. I wanted to share my variation of Romex Stayman. Why play Extended Romex? Well, one reason is that  we would like to show as many hands as possible through 3. This is the cheapest possible call over the 2NT opening, and it only makes sense from the principle of useful space to utilize it as much as possible. We will see that we can show a large amount of common shapes. Another useful property is to allow cheap and expressive slam tries in the most common outcome where the partnership discovers a 4-4 major fit. Take the Puppet Stayman sequence 2NT - 3; 3 - 3; 4, where 3 shows hearts and 4 shows a fit. Responder must risk the five level to make a slam try. We would prefer to do better, and with Extended Romex, we can. Like many versions of Puppet or Muppet, Extended Romex always makes opener declarer after finding a major suit fit.

The general principle in Romex Stayman is that opener's rebid of 3 shows a 4 or 5 card heart suit, while 3 promises 5 spades. Why does this make sense? Because there is one crucial bid between 3 and 3NT, while no such bid exists over 3. This allows responder to check for partner's shape. Agreeing a 4-4 fit is now easy, and responder can make a cheap slam try.

 

2NT - 3 - ?

3: Denies 4, denies 5

3: 4-5 , not 4

3: 5

3NT: 4 and 4

 

The next pages show continuations for each of these four calls.

After 3 denying 4+ and 5, all responder calls are major-oriented, except for 3 which is a transfer to 3NT. (While technically, puppet would be a more accurate term, for obvious reasons I am not using that word in this article.) After the transfer, all continuations are natural.

 

2NT - 3;

3 - ?

3: 4. (opener accepts with support, or 3NT otherwise; natural continuation with no fit, control bidding with fit.)

3: Transfer to 3NT. (then 4 of a minor is natural, and 4 of a major is a splinter slam try with both minors. )

3NT: 4 and 5, not forcing. (Yep, this hand type fits here!)

4: 5 and 5. (then 4 says sorry partner, I opened 2NT with a 22(54) or 22(63)).

4:  6 and 4. Smolen.

4:  4 and 6. Smolen.

After 3 showing at least 4 and denying 4, we use the same principle that 3 is a transfer to 3NT, and the rest of the calls are major-oriented.

2NT - 3;

3 - ?

3: Transfer to 3NT. (then 4 of a minor is natural and 4/4 is a non-forcing/forcing slam try with 3).

3NT: Exactly 3, not forcing. Opener may cue with a slam-suitable hand and five hearts, or bid 4 with 5 and a minimum.

4/: Slam try, control, hearts agreed.

4: To play.

After 3 showing 5, there is no space for transfers to 3NT. So we play the same system as normal Puppet.

2NT - 3;

3 - ?

3NT: To play.

4/: Natural.

4: Slam try, spades agreed.

4: To play.

After 3NT showing 44M, transfers are used to right-side the contract. Responder is perfectly authorized to bid 3 with 6m and 3M, so we must still account for that.

2NT - 3;

3NT - ?

4: Transfer to .

4: Transfer to .

4: Transfer to .

4: 6+. Slam try. 

To summarize, what hands can responder hold while bidding Extended Romex Stayman?

Any hand with one or two 4 card majors.

Any hand with one or two 3 card majors, including ones with one or both minors (except 5+ in one major and 3 in the other).

Any major two-suiter (except for exactly 5 and 4).

If you are prepared to accept the memory cost, I think this structure is comparable with a Puppet or Muppet structure, and  Extended Romex outperforms it by handling the 4-4 fit and major two suiters in a better way.

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