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At matchpoints, with only them vulnerable, after three passes, I opened 1 diamond with the following 17 high card point hand:

♠ K97 ♡AK ♢AQJ982 ♣ 76.

I did not open 1NT because of my two doubletons, one of them weak.

Partner raised to 2 diamonds. At this point, I rebid 2NT figuring that our diamonds, at least, were solid (they were), and that a 3NT contract was "on" if we could stop all three suits. This left the decision of whether or not to go to 3NT to a partner I trusted. She did so with the following hand:

♠ T42 ♡Q52 ♢KT54 ♣ KJ5.

Was this a good way to get to 3NT or was there a better sequence? Put another way, was it worthwhile to gamble that my partner had clubs stopped, and would have left us in 2NT if shee didn't have adequate stoppers.

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I don't open your hand 1N, but not because it doesn't have stoppers. (No one decent has worried about stoppers in non-competitive bidding for the last 40 years, because the imprecision in bidding system caused by allowing other openings to contain balanced hands in your 1N range causes trouble on more hands than opponents managing to run an unstopped suit.) I think it's worth considerably more than 17 hcp.

Every non-beginner tournament player these days plays some form of inverted minors, where a raise to 3 in a minor shows a weaker hand, while a raise to 2 in a minor shows an invitational or better hand and is forcing for one round. (Different players play somewhat different ranges, sometimes separating out 2-6 from 7-9 or separating out 10-12 from 13+ by using the jump shifts are artificial bids showing support and a particular range.)

Even without inverted minors, with such a balanced hand, your partner should respond 1N. Yes, sometimes 1N will be a disaster because opponents will run a suit, but, at matchpoints, the times you score +120 instead of +110 will outnumber the times you score -x00 instead of +90 (and opener can always correct 1N to 2 of a minor anyway).

Over 1N, you have a 3N bid. (Give your partner xxx xxx Kx QTxxx and you're odds on to make 3N.)

Over a weak D - your partner is quite likely to have clubs stopped - they don't have a 4 card major and can't have more than 3 points in diamonds. Even if they don't your opponents don't know to lead them. (Or your partner can have Axx xxx Kxx xxxx and the opponents cash the first 4 club tricks and get nothing else.) The number of good games you miss by bidding 2N when partner is too weak to accept your invitation is going to be bigger than the number of bad games you are in by bidding 3N when partner doesn't have the right stoppers.

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  • I believe that you have a point about my hand being stronger than "17." Make one of my small clubs a Q or perhaps a J, and I would be tempted to open the hand 2NT even though it would be nominally 19 or 18.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 28 at 22:55

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