Showing a minor after partner's 1NT

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 04/11/2016
Level: Intermediate

Partner opens 1NT and you have 5 or more cards in a minor suit. What should you do?

Unfortunately, some of this depends on methods. You need to know how your partnership shows a minor. Do you play 4-suit transfers? There are many possibilities, but for this article, let's assume you use what is currently most popular:

1NT-2♠ = Range ask or Clubs
1NT-2NT = Transfer to Diamonds 

After 1NT-2♠, opener bids 2NT with a minimum or 3♠ with a maximum. If the responder just has an invite to 3NT (like a flat 9-count), he either passes 2NT, or converts 3♠ to 3NT.  If responder has clubs, he can pass 3♠ to make that the contract, or bid anything but 3NT (showing clubs).

You and your partner should also discuss what it means in each of these situations:

1) You start with 2♠ or 2NT and next bid a major suit on the 3-level. For example:

1NT 2♠
 3♠ 3♠

One possibility is "natural" (5+♠ and 4♠).

Another possibility is "shortness" with a hand such as:

♠ A65  
♥ 3  
♦ K76  
♣ KQ7654.

 2) What does it mean it you start with Stayman and later bid a minor?

1NT 2♠
 answer 3♠

Is that forcing, invitational or sign-off?

This area can get complicated (as hinted at above), but none of it is the purpose of this article.

All I want to show here is if/when you should actually show your minor.

So, partner opens 1NT and you hold each of the following hands:


♠ 542  
♥ J4  
♦ J65  
♣ J8764


♠ 32  
♥ 2  
♦ J765432  
♣ 652


♠ K1076  
♥ 43  
♦ 2  
♣ AQJ765


♠ J4  
♥ Q7  
♦ AQ10765  
♣ J32


♠ K32  
♥ K2  
♦ KQJ109  
♣ 654

With #1, Pass and let partner suffer. You "never" transfer to a minor with a flat (5-3-3-2) hand. The only possibly exception might be if you wanted to eventually look for a slam.

With #2, you want to play in 3♠. That has to be better than 1NT. It is now just a matter of methods. Make sure you and your partner know how in your system the responder signs off in 3-of-a-minor

With #3, you want to look for a 4-4 spade fit and if it isn't found, show your clubs. Again, you have to know how to do this in your system. Do you start with Stayman and then bid 3♠? Do you start with a transfer to clubs and then bid your spades?

With #4, you have no interest in playing in your minor. Just bid 3NT. You can "show" your diamonds when you table the dummy.

With #5, again you have no reason to show the minor in the auction. Just raise 1NT to 3NT (or, if you play Puppet Stayman, you can look for a 5-3 spade fit).

This article just covers some basics. In the real world, there is much more confusion awaiting you. For example, what do you do with a very weak hand with a 4-card major and a 6-card minor? Hint: It depends on your system/agreements.

Here is a summary of your approach when you hold a 5+ card minor and partner opens 1NT:

No game interest

With only a 5-card minor, usually pass 1NT.
With a 6+ card minor, transfer to play in 3 of the minor

Game invitational
With a 5-card minor and no 4-card major, just invite in notrump
With a 5+card minor and a 4-card major, start with Stayman
With a 6-card minor (and no 4-card major), start with a transfer (likely your methods will allow opener to show min/max)

Game force
With a flat hand, don't bother showing the minor unless you have slam interest
With shape (6+ card minor or 4-card major and 5+ card minor), use Stayman or a transfer to start

If you liked this article, you might like Larry's Books Modern Bidding.