Suppose I open 1NT. This defines my hand within narrow limits (typically 15-17 high card points and "balanced" distribution), causing my partner, who now knows a lot about my hand, to become 'captain" of the team and having the right to place the contract going forward.

Partner may bid 3NT. That's game, and basically the end of the story. But suppose partner raises to 2NT. Do I now have the liberty to bid three or four of say, a five card suit, or is partner's preference for a NT contract final (giving me only the options of pass or 3NT)?

Partner may bid a Jacoby transfer (two diamonds asking me to transfer to 2 hearts, or two hearts transferring to two spades, etc.). Partner is clearly in charge here, and I must comply.

Partner may bid two clubs (Stayman). I bid two of one major (showing four cards in that suit), and one partner bid three of that major. She said that she was offering me the choice of passing, going to four of the major or bidding 3NT. Was she, in fact, relinquishing the captaincy, and are there any (other) post-1NT sequence where the responder does this?

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure that it's so important to know "who is the captain" in those situations. It seems like getting hung up on semantics instead of focusing on your responsibilities and options in the auction.

Answering your subquestions:

If partner invites with 2NT, you may bid three of a major to indicate that you accept the invitation and have a 5-card major. Partner may bid 3NT or raise your major to game. Who's the captain here? Eh, nobody really. Both of you have narrowly limited hands and are providing information to give your partner an option.

When partner makes a Jacoby transfer, many pairs play that opener may bid something else as a "super accept," showing an unusually good hand for partner's major (there are a number of different agreements for this, so don't spring it on partner without discussion). Has captaincy been transferred? No, you're giving responder additional information to help make a decision.

When partner raises your Stayman response, she is showing 4 cards in that suit and invitational values. The ball is in your court. Does that mean that you are the captain now? Not sure it matters, but maybe? You now have a decision to make. If you think that makes you the captain, then I guess you are.

There are many invitational sequences after 1NT openings, e.g. 1NT-2H-2S-2NT, 1NT-2H-2S-3S, 1NT-2C-2D-2NT, 1NT-4NT, 1NT-5NT, 1NT-2D-2H-4NT. There are other sequences that ask opener to choose whether to participate in a slam auction. At some point, you both know about the same amount about each other's hand, and so neither of you is strictly the captain and you are participating in a cooperative auction. But even when partner is the captain, there is often scope for using judgment to determine whether to show additional information.

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