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What is a No-trump range?

This article is inspired, if that is the right word, by another discussion (to date, over 300 contributions); see this link:


I would argue that the No-trump range entered on a convention card is an indication of the strength of hand that the opener holds.  Assuming valuation by way of Milton Work High Card Points (HCP), a typical range would be 15-17 HCP; for the sake of argument, assume a balanced(ish) hand.


In my view, this does not indicate either that the opener will definitely hold a hand possessing from 15-17 HCP or that any balanced hand which falls within the 15-17 HCP range will be opened 1NT.


By way of illustration, a hand such as A109 A109 QJ1094 K3 is surely worth a 15-17 1NT opening and only the veriest pedant would argue that to describe the hand as such constitutes misinformation.  Similarly KQJ Q432 K32 KJ2 is worth no more than a weak NT and I would only expect a dedicated walrus (the reference is to Victor Mollo's character Walter the Walrus who had a touching and undying faith in HCP) to open a 15-17 1NT.  For those interested, the Kaplan-Rubens counts of these two hands are respectively 15.6 and 12.7.


The contrary view is from the literalist school, the argument being that, if you say 15-17 you must definitely have at least 15 and no more than 17 HCP.  This has everything to do with bridge as taught to beginners and nothing of any practical value to an experienced player.


I consider that, if a partnership has a practice of "upgrading" (i.e. opening 1NT on hands that are at best marginal in terms of being worth 15-17 HCP), this is something that the opponents should be aware of but that the place for this is on the system card, not in the form of an oral announcement (which, it should be noted, is open to abuse by the unscrupulous): one of the few English regulations of undoubted utility is the one that requires system cards to be exchanged with the opponents for the duration of the round.


However, to expect the disclosure of the 1NT range to take account of every possible factor impacting individual judgement is impractical and pointless.  And what is it meant to achieve?  It won't help experienced players and certainly won't be of any assistance to newer ones: they won't be counting declarer's points in the first place, probably won't reach the correct total in the unlikely event that they are counting and won't have the faintest idea what to do with the information if they manage to assemble it.

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