Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/01/2012
Level: All Levels


By far, this is the trickiest section of the card. It takes the longest amount of time, and involves the most decisions. Please don't get turned off by the perceived complexity here. There are many possible choices. I've selected what I consider to be a workable framework that doesn't involve too much memory strain. Yes, there are better ways to skin this cat--please don't write to me to tell me your way is better.


1NT OPENING: 15-17 balanced. I recommend upgrading decent 14-counts (especially when they contain a good 5-card suit). Open all balanced (4432, 4333 and 5332) hands in range with 1NT--regardless of stoppers or possession of a 5-card major.


2?: Regular Stayman, does not guarantee a 4-card major (because 1N-2N is used to transfer to diamonds)
2?/2?: Jacoby Transfers (At least 5 cards and 0+ HCP)
2?: Transfer to Clubs (More on this below)
2NT: Transfer to Diamonds (More on this below)--it does involve some sacrifices, as do all choices here
3?: Puppet Stayman (More on this below)--only for experienced players
3?/3?/3?: Splinter Bid (Game Forcing with a 3-suiter, 0-1 cards in the suit bid)
3NT: To Play
4?: Gerber
4?: Texas Transfer to hearts (6+?)
4?: Texas Transfer to spades (6+?)
4?: Don't bid it (or come up with your own definition)
4NT: Quantitative

After 2? (Stayman):
Here is the brief overview of what it means if the Stayman bidder takes further action:
On the 2-level, everything is natural and not forcing (example: 1N-2?;2?-2?).
On the 3-level, a raise is invitational, of course. Other 3-level bids are discussed here.
On the 4-level, a raise to game is to play, other bids are splinter bids (example: 1N-2?;2?-4?).
Partnerships wishing to cover most of the details can read about them here.


After 2?/2? (Jacoby Transfer):
Transferring to a major and then bidding 2NT is invitational (1N-2?;2?-2N).
Transferring to a major and then bidding a new 3-level suit is natural and GF (1N-2?;2?-3?).
Transferring to a major and then raising to 3 is inviting game (typically a 6+ card suit) (1N-2?;2?-3?).
Transferring to a major and then raising to 4 is inviting slam (typically no singletons or voids since no splinter) (1N-2?;2?-4?). This assumes usage of Texas Transfers.
Transferring to a major and then bidding 3NT is a choice of games (typically balanced) (1N-2?;2?-3N).
Transferring to a major, followed by a jump shift is a splinter bid (example: 1N-2?;2?-4? is likely 6=3=3=1 shape).
Transferring to a major (on the 2-level), followed by 4NT is Quantitative (1N-2?;2?-4N).


After 2? (Transfer to clubs) or 2NT (Transfer to diamonds)
Opener accepts the transfer (bids the suit transferred to) with a maximum (example: 1N-2?;3?).
Opener rejects the transfer (bids the in-between suit) with a minimum (example: 1N-2?;2N).

More details on follow-ups to all transfers are available here.


After 3? (Puppet Stayman--responder is usually looking for a 5-3 major-suit fit):
3?=Opener has no 5-card majors (Responder then bids 3NT to sign-off or 3-of-the-other major with 4 cards).
3?/3?= Opener has 5 cards in that major (or a very good 4).
3NT=Does not exist (Note: there were older/inferior ways to play Puppet Stayman, but this way is better/improved).
Note: Responder should not use Puppet with exactly 4-4 in the majors

Note: If using 3? Puppet Stayman causes too much memory strain, use 3? as something else (for simplicity and consistency, as a splinter bid).

Note: In LC Standard, Puppet Stayman is used only with game-going values (the 3? response is GF).


Splinter Bids

1N-3? guarantees 4 hearts (so that opener can comfortably bid 4? with 4).

The other Splinters don't guarantee a 4-card major(s). Opener can show one and responder retreats to 3NT without 4.


After Texas Transfers (4?/4?)
Responder will usually pass, but if he continues with 4NT it is RKC.
Note: Jacoby then 4NT is quantitative, while Texas then 4NT is the way to ask for keycards.


Note: All of the above covers more than 90% of hand-types which might come up. Every follow-up is notcovered here.


Note: There is unfortunately no substitute to printing this out, studying, practicing and memorizing. This section is much more important than memorizing a new convention. If you are "memory-challenged," try to select the most important items above and work with your partner on them.

You can play the above structure and survive most deals without a system accident. This is NOT a perfect system. Repeat: It is NOT 100% perfect. Please don't write with suggested improvements. I know of many improvements, but they require too much memory strain. I am presenting here what I believe will cover most hand-types without killing yourself with memory. The entire theme of LC Standard is to have a 90% system which you can remember 99% instead of a 99% system which you remember 90%.


For a few other discussion points (such as Smolen), click here.


If you found this section difficult, I understand and sympathize. Hang in there. Once we finish with NOTRUMP OPENINGS, it will be smoother sailing.


In following articles I will discuss 2NT and 3NT openers as well as coping with interference against 1NT. There are a few references in the image above which refer to interference. They will be filled in with the next installment. 


For a view of the entire LC Standard card and a prettier format of this series, see the "translation" at Bridge Winners.

Extra Reading:

What Should we Play?