No Trump Openings

This page examines how responder should approach their bid after hearing either a 1 NT or 2 NT opening.

The response is guided by the relationship between the points a partnership holds and the likelihood of them successfully making a game or part-score contract:

Bidding LevelNo TrumpsMajor SuitMinor Suit
Game3 NT
25-26 HCP
4♥︎ or 4♠︎
25 TP
5♣︎ or 5♦︎
28 TP
Part Score1 NT
21 HCP
1♥︎ or 1♠︎
18 TP
1♣︎ or 1♦︎
18 TP
Relationship between hand strength and ability to make a game or part-score contract

Responses to a 2 NT opening bid

Recall that a 2NT opening is specifically for hands which are balanced and which hold 20-21 HCP. So a responder holding a hand with 4+ TP must feel reasonably confident about bidding and making a game contract. If they hold 3 TP or fewer then playing at game level is too risky and it would be better to stay at a part score level. Therefore:

  • With 3- TP responder should pass.
  • With 4+ TP responder should bid at game level.

But what game contract should a responder with 4+ TP choose? If responder holds 6+♥︎ (or 6+♠︎) the answer is easy: since opener has a balanced hand then opener must hold at least 2 cards and so there is certain to be a Golden Fit. Therefore:

  • With 4+ TP and 6+♥︎ (or 6+♠︎) responder should bid 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎).

If responder holds 4♥︎ then the likelihood is that there is no Golden Fit; although opener may hold four cards the chances are that they don’t. Therefore:

  • With 4+ TP and 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎) responder should bid 3NT.

Finally, what should responder bid if they hold 5+♥︎? It’s highly likely that there is a Golden Fit but there is a small chance that opener has a 5-3-3-2 hand with the 2 card suit being ♥︎. Here responder can make a forcing bid:

  • With 4+ TP and 5♥︎ (or 5♠︎) responder should bid 3♥︎ (or 3♠︎). Opener must either rebid 4♥︎ if they hold 3 or more cards or 3NT if they hold 2 or fewer.

Responses to a 2 NT opening bid

  • With 0-3 TP responder should pass.
  • With 4+ TP responder should bid:
    • With 6+ ♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎). This is a sign-off bid.
    • With 5 ♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 3♥︎ (or 3♠︎). This is a forcing bid.
    • With 4-♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 3NT. This is a sign-off bid.

Opener’s rebid after a response to 2NT

  • After 4♥︎, 4♠︎ and 3NT: Pass.
  • After 3♥︎ (or 3♠︎):
    • With 3+ cards or more raise to 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎).
    • With 2- cards bid 3NT.

Responses to a 1 NT opening bid

Responses to a 1NT opening are formulated in a very similar fashion to those for a 2NT opening.

Recall that a 1NT opening is for hands which are balanced and hold 15-17 HCP. So a responder holding a hand with 10+ TP must feel reasonably confident about bidding and making a game contract since the partnership has 25+TP. The responses, therefore, are very similar:

  • With 10+ TP and 6+♥︎ (or 6+♠︎) responder should bid 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎).
  • With 10+ TP and 5♥︎ (or 5♠︎) responder should bid 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎).
  • With 10+ TP and 4-♥︎ (or 4-♠︎) responder should bid 3NT.

Now consider a responder holding 8-9 TP. Game may be possible if opener has 17HCP but would be too risky if opener has 15HCP. In this situation responder makes an invitational bid:

  • With 8-9 TP bid 2NT.

This invites an opener with 17 HCP to raise to game in 3NT, or to decline and leave the contract at 2NT if they have 15-16HCP.

Finally, what about the situation where responder has 0-7 TP? There is no chance of game – the partnership might possibly have a combined 24 TP but could equally have as few as 15 TP. It might seem logical to pass but there is an alternative. As we know, it’s much better to play in a trump contract with a Golden Fit. For this reason responder can sign off by placing the partnership in a trump contract as follows:

  • With 0-7 TP bid 2♦︎ (or 2♥︎ or 2♠︎) with 5+ cards, otherwise pass.

Opener will understand that such a bid means “I have a very weak hand, but I know we have a Golden Fit, so you should now pass”.

Finally you may be wondering about a 2♣︎ bid. This is reserved for a special convention called Stayman which is described elsewhere.

Responses to a 3 NT opening bid

  • With 0-7 TP responder should:
    • Bid 2♦︎ (or 2♥︎ or 2♠︎) with 5+ cards. This is a sign-off bid.
    • Otherwise they should pass.
  • With 8-9 TP responder should bid 2NT. This is an invitational bid.
  • With 10+ TP responder should bid:
    • With 6+ ♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎). This is a sign-off bid.
    • With 5 ♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 3♥︎ (or 3♠︎). This is a forcing bid.
    • With 4- ♥︎ (or ♠︎) bid 3NT. This is a sign-off bid.

Opener’s rebid after a response to 2NT

  • After 4♥︎, 4♠︎ and 3NT: Pass.
  • After 3♥︎ (or 3♠︎):
    • With 3+ cards or more raise to 4♥︎ (or 4♠︎).
    • With 2- cards bid 3NT.
  • After 2NT:
    • With 17 HCP raise to 3NT.
    • With 15-16 HCP, Pass.
  • After 2♦︎, 2♥︎