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If I'm inclined to bid NT with 15-17 points, but am weak in one suit, how weak can I be, and still bid 1NT, as opposed to bidding 1 club, to find out if my partner can show strength e.g. a stopper in my suit, by bidding it?

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Can you be more specific? –  Aryabhata Nov 28 '12 at 0:02
    
I think you are looking at this the wrong way, if you bid nt your partner should normally be running the auction –  jk. Nov 28 '12 at 16:36
    
This is a question that requires a great deal of discussion. All of bidding is the quest to decide where you should play a contract. Game? Slam? Part score? What level? What suit or notrumps? Large books are written. As such, it is impossible to answer this question as it has been asked, at least in a finite amount of time. Either be more specific, or close the question. What system are you using? Give more info. –  user3264 Nov 29 '12 at 1:45
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I'd probably think the key point here is whether the opponents have bid that suit or not. –  JB King Jan 11 '13 at 19:46
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I focused the question, and wonder if it can be re-opened in its current form. –  Tom Au Jan 26 '13 at 19:31
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3 Answers

I frequently open a 15-17 1NT with a small doubleton minor, but guarantee at least Qx or xxx in each major to stand partner's possible weak transfer.

A hand that fails this standard, but does not have a 5-card major, has at least 7 minor suit cards and thus is opening a 4-card or longer minor suit.

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If you have a balanced hand, 15-17 HCP, but you don't open 1NT, you may encounter difficulties rebidding.

For example, you open 1m and your partner responses 1NT, and then you are in a dilemma. Your 2NT rebid promises 18-19 HCP (between 1NT opening and 2NT opening), which is unsuitable now. Sometimes you reverse with a 4-card major and your parter goes 4M with only 8 points. Other times you pass or bid a 3-card suit, but your partner has 9-10 HCP.

For 15-17 HCP, I open 1NT for all 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, 5m-3-3-2, and 5m-4-2-2. Whether to open 1NT for 5M-3-3-2 or 6m-3-2-2 is another question to discuss. Don't forget 1NT opening preempts opponents' majors!

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Your partner's response(s) ought to give you a good idea of whether a no trumps contract is the correct one to pursue, or if you might be better off looking elsewhere.

Perhaps your partner will bid Stayman over your NT bid. If you find a satisfactory fit in hearts or spades, then the question of whether you have a shortage somewhere else becomes irrelevant (in fact, it turns into a bonus).

Otherwise, your partner may well - indeed, is statistically quite likely to - try to bid the suit that you are weak in. If he does, then this reinforces your initial assumption that a no trumps contract may be a good place to be.

If your partner avoids the suit you are weak in - especially if he avoids it twice, then perhaps NT is not such a good idea. However, if this is the case then he has almost certainly bid in a suit that you hold 4 cards in, by now. If so, you have a pretty good option to shift to, outside of no trumps!

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Good answer! The key point is not to fixate on NT just based on what you're holding. Use your bidding conventions to convey your hand to your partner, and then find what fits best for both of you. –  bwarner Nov 27 '12 at 22:09
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