You are at favorable vulnerability. LHO deals and passes. Partner bids one heart, RHO opponent passes. An expert (Frank Stewart) "surely" recommends that you respond 1NT with the following: (s)J954 (h)3 (d)T (c) KQ97632. This is the case even though you have four spades. (Stewart has major issues with "Standard.") If you had (s)J954 (h)3 (d)T8 (c) KQ9763, he would "consider" bidding 1NT.

I did the same thing (bid 1NT) with a (somewhat) similar hand (neither vulnerable) and got into trouble when partner bid two spades, "reversing" with two spades, and only 13(!) points.

Under what system would Stewart's recommendation be a reasonable one? Or is it because the circumstances are (somewhat) different from mine in the above hands, where Stewart recommends running out to a "weak" 3 club bid if partner responds at the two level? Put another way, what might be the context of Stewart's remarks?

  • Not forcing NT.
    – Aryabhata
    Apr 18, 2017 at 22:30
  • @Aryabhata: So could I have been right to do what I did if partner and I had agreed to use "not forcing NT?" I was not this person's regular partner but a "stand in."
    – Tom Au
    Apr 18, 2017 at 22:33
  • Assuming some simple variant of standard american as played in the US, 1NT is 6-9 (or bad 10) and looks like your partner overbid with the 2S bid. Of course, it all boils down to what you agreed upon. In the US, sitting down first time and saying "standard", I would assume 1NT is not forcing (showing 6-9) and that 2S is a reverse like bid.
    – Aryabhata
    Apr 18, 2017 at 22:37
  • 3
    So the problem clearly is your partner reversing into 2S with a weak hand rather than you responding 1NT?
    – petqwe
    Apr 19, 2017 at 2:47

4 Answers 4


Stewart's recommendation is reasonable in any standard system, whether 1NT is forcing or not.

Unless your partner's hand was very unusually distributed, it sounds like your partner was at fault for reversing with only 13 points.

Reversing means bidding at a new level (here 2 spades over 1 NT) in a higher ranking suit (spades ranks higher than hearts) than your opening bid. In essentially any natural system this promises 16+ points.

Why is even a forcing 1NT not an issue?

The hand shown has a 7 card club suit and two singletons. Whether 1NT is forcing or not, this hand expects to play best in clubs. Two clubs directly shows too much strength. Bidding 1NT followed by Clubs (presumably 3 Clubs) typically shows this type of hand.

There is a decision whether to ignore the 4 card spade suit or not. Once the hand is this distributional it can make sense. You'll have a hard time getting to clubs after you bid 1 Spade because a second suit by responder usually shows extra strength (and is often artificial).

Notice that if you had had the same hand but with 3 spades and 2 diamonds, there would be no question that 1NT is the bid.


Your choice (unless playing weak jump shifts, which are becoming popular) is between 1S and 1NT. I personally would bid 1S: If partner jump shifts I can rebid clubs again and again without showing extra strength, if he raises spades I don't mind ignoring the clubs, and if he rebids 1NT I have enough to give him a chance to make. I will pass if his rebid is 2H, so the only problem is if he rebids 2D. There, I will take a truly fals preference to 2H, and if they double run to 3C -- partner would be able to work out what happened.

The risk in responding 1NT is if partner has a 4=5 hand in spades/hearts and not enough to reverse, we will get a poor score in 1NT. Unless we are playing Flannery, this is a much more common situation that a rebid of 2D.

If this probelm were presented in the Master Solvers Club, there would be votes for both responsesm and none for any other bid (which is why it would not be chosen for that forum).


The auction in bridge is not about describing your hand perfectly, but about reaching the optimal contract. This requires careful planning.

Here, it is tempting to bid 1s, but what will you do after the very likely 2d rebid? 3c is a huge and game-forcing bid, 2s promises a one-suited weak hand with spades (5-card, typically 6-card). 2nt? Worst of the evils and an overbid, so why not just bid 1nt straight? This also allows to naturally bid clubs later. And if partner has enough strength for reversing into 2s, you won't miss the spade game.


I dealt 100 hands restricted to N unable to reverse (5-7 hearts,0-6 diamonds, 0-6 clubs, 0-4 spades; 12-17 points). The available contracts for NS are (some are coming from the same deal):

  • 3-4♣ - 45 times

  • 5♣ - 15 times

  • 6♣ - 3 times

  • 2-3♠ - 20 times (12 times with spades 4-3: not unlikely if the response is 1s. In all but 3 cases, NS have at least 3♣)

  • 4♠ - 8 times (twice with spades 4-3; only in one hand NS don't have 5♣)

  • 1-2NT - 14 times

  • 3-4NT - 6 times

  • 2-3H - 6 times

  • 4H - 2 times

I believe the statistics shouts for a 1NT response.

  • 1
    You forgot a preference to 2H in response to 2D: which some people might consider lesser of evils between 1NT and 1S followed by 2H. One reason to bid 1S is that with a hand like KQxx, Axxxx, xx, Ax with partner you have a good spade game. Partner does not need reverse values for spade game to make. You will miss out on the spade fit by bidding 1NT in those non-reverse cases.
    – Aryabhata
    Aug 30, 2017 at 2:01
  • I called 2nt "worst of the evils", not "lesser". However, 2nt (and even 3nt) has better chances than 2h: if partner is dealt non-singleton club ace, it will be often successful, while 2h is extremely unlikely to win.
    – zhoraster
    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:15
  • Concerning the "hand like ..." - there are very few hands like that. And very few pairs will finish in 4s. And unless some of the defenders holds 6 diamonds (in which case the bidding is unlikely to end in 1nt), the 1nt contract is safe, so we are not going to lose.
    – zhoraster
    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:20
  • So you are saying 2NT is the worst of evils (which was actually irrelevant to my point) and that 2H is even worse than 2NT? :-) I really suggest you deal out some hands. I am willing to bet (virtual money :P) that 2H will turn out to be better more often than not.
    – Aryabhata
    Aug 31, 2017 at 2:17
  • @Aryabhata, 2nt is a better contract than 2h, but the bidding is unlikely to end in 2nt; often it will be 3nt, sometimes doubled. I am not interested in your virtual money. I've dealt 100 hands for the bidding 1h-1s-2d-? (I've restricted N to 5-6 hearts, 4-5 diamonds, and 12-17 points). Despite there are more tricks in the heart contract on average than in no trump, 2h won 6 times, 3h once, 5h once. 2nt won 7 times, 3nt - 3 times, 4 nt - once. The vast majority of best results for NS - 3c to 6c, where one cannot finish (imo) after answering 1s.
    – zhoraster
    Aug 31, 2017 at 8:26

Stewart's recommendation is reasonable in Standard American -- here, responder's 3C rebid cannot be natural and invitational because an initial bid of 2C would have included that hand.

It's also reasonable 2/1 Game Forcing base that includes the agreement that a 3C rebid after a 1NT response is natural and less than invitational. However, many players play that this shows an invitational hand with 6 or more clubs.

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