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I often see good players note on their convention cards that 1NT may contain a 6 card minor. Depending on the strength on the 1NT range, I would bid such hands 1m - 2m (12-15) or 1m - 3m (15-18). What are the benefits of opening 1NT with 6 card minor? What are the characteristics of such hands?

3 Answers 3

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Holding AKx Kx QJxxxx Kx, it is unsatisfying and misleading to open 1D and rebid 3D. Most of your values are outside of diamonds and in fact you have decent stopping positions in all other suits. Opening 1NT conveys the hand type and playing strength more accurately.

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  • Thanks for your answer. Would you bid the same way if the red suits were reversed? I've not heard of 1NT including 6 card majors. If you would not open 1NT how would you bid and why?
    – Bysshed
    Nov 4, 2017 at 23:54
  • @Bysshed: Perhaps ruds disagrees, but I would not open 1NT with the red suits reversed. The 6th trump adequately supplies the extra strength to take 10 total tricks for game in a Major, but not for 11 total tricks required for game in a Minor. Nov 5, 2017 at 1:27
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    Yes, I agree. Majors and minors are different, not least because 10 tricks are easier to get to than 11.
    – ruds
    Nov 5, 2017 at 2:12
  • +1. I'd add that at matchpoints it's a decent opening almost regardless of where the points are distributed.
    – hunter
    Feb 2, 2018 at 5:01
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To expand on the answer by ruds, the scoring also plays into the decision.

Where as it requires 10 tricks in a Major suit to make game, and 11 in a Minor, it takes only 9 tricks to contract for game in Notrump. This makes the required total strength required for a good shot at game about 4 Points less in Notrump (~25 combined HCP) than in the minor suit (~29 combined Points).

On distributional hands the additional strength can be available outside the high card strength, and leverage trump length to protect against an opponents length tricks in a side suit. When the hands are balanced, it is usually wiser to play for the reduced total required tricks.

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  • Can I ask how the extra length in the minor affects how you evaluate your hand? Are you likely to upgrade your point count, if so how do you go about this?
    – Bysshed
    Nov 5, 2017 at 0:04
  • @Bysshed: Start with Goren's distribution count, 3-2-1, counted always by the long trump hand and by the supporting hand conditional on adequate trump support. There are fancier ways, but they can cause complexities in the auction. Nov 5, 2017 at 1:13
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The main advantage of opening 1NT is that it limits the hand in both in terms of strength and distribution. When you open 1 minor, you can have between 3 and 7 cards in the suit, between 10 and 20something HCP and can be void in any suit. When you open 1 NT, your hand is limited in strength and the distribution is well defined. This is a huge advantage if the bidding turns competitive and a large advantage in partnership bidding (just one example: responder, with a 6-card major and game-going strength, can safely place the contract, knowing that opener has at least adequate support).

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  • Basically true - just like being in favour of motherhood and apple pie is basically good. More descriptive bids are always good - except when they occur too infrequently relative to an alternative use of the sequence. An upvote requires a bit more analysis, such as when one wouldn't open 1NT with a 6-card minor. Jun 3, 2018 at 3:56

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