Saturday, November 02, 2002 12:48 AM

Leaping to 3NT




          Leaping to 3NT should mean more than “I play the NT better” in a good partnership . The bid should be used to describe hands that are otherwise hard to describe . For the purposes of this discussion I am going to assume that all flat hands 15-17 regardless of a 5 card major are opened 1NT .


          O.K. what is one of a major and a leap to 3NT by responder ?  This should show a 1NT opener without support for the major and no 5 card suit of its own . Tom , BJ  & I play the 3NT bid showing exactly 4-4 in the minors. These hands are hard to describe anyway so why not make them a “picture bid” ? Going to the 2 level with a 4 card suit is lame bidding and the fact that you have 15-17 HCP does not make it any better.


          You open a minor and responder leaps to 3NT. This is different in that the 2NT bid is an invitational balanced hand . The 3NT bid should also be a “picture bid” . Why force slam tries in the minor to commence at the 4 level by leaping to 3NT with a good 15-17 HCP  hand . This bid should be the 4-3-3-3 with soft values and a NT opener. My partners hate the leap to 3NT by responder so much , we have thrown all game going balanced hands into our inverted minor structure.  We sort these hands out via a relay.


          There has been a shift in thinking on the meaning a leap to 3NT after a 2/1 . The old way was that it should show a minimum and 2NT should be unlimited with all the NT ranges  . Unfortunately expert pairs kept playing 3NT with 17 HCP opposite 17 HCP so rethinking the concept came about.


1♠         2

2         3NT  ?               The 3NT shows the stronger 15-17  hand and 2NT the

13-14 HCP hand or the super range 18-19 HCP .



          Since 15-17 with a major is covered by the 1NT opening bid then a 3NT jump after a 2/1 will show the 15-17 but a good major as partner decided not to open 1NT. With some partnerships 2NT is an either / or bid. The minimum range or the 18-19 HCP range. If the latter subsequent action will follow like a 4NT invite bid.


1♠        2

 3NT                       Good spade suit & 15-17 probably controls rather than soft values.


1         2♣

 3NT                   If you play the Kokish treatment that bid shows  18-19

balanced too strong to  open 1NT


1         2♣

2NT      3NT



 This is the either/or bid in action. This sequence shows the 18-19 HCP rather than the 12-14 HCP.


          There is a school of thought that you should not pre-empt partner with a 3NT bid if she is making a 4th suit forcing bid . I do not agree . Bid your HCP and distribution right away and the consistency of the bids ( a leap to 3NT always shows the NT opener range ) will benefit in the long run. If you have systemic bids that you can show many ranges of balance hands then you can have the jump to 3NT to show a minimum.


1        1

1♠        2♣ (4th suit )

3NT                              3NT should be strong showing specifically the strong NT range of HCP’s . 2NT can be an either/or range.


1♣          2♣

3NT                        Bidding 3NT here should show a 3 card club suit and  a flat hand too strong to open 1NT ( assuming inverted minor  game force )  . We would have assumed a 1NT opening if in the 15-17 HCP range so this range not possible.  Auctions are simplified if you can flash exact HCP and  distributions immediately to partner . 


These bids violate the principle of fast arrival to keep the bidding low with big hands to conserve room etc. However , from my experience it just does not work to bid 2NT as ambiguous with all the NT ranges  and 3NT as the weak hand . Jumping to 3NT to show the strong NT range just plain works better !!


If partner has made a simple response at the one level and you rebid 3NT – what does that mean? This shows a long sold or semi-solid  suit and possibly a stiff in partners suit or some other flaw .   It is not a hand that you forgot to open 2NT J .  Forcing club systems were invented because Standard Bidding pre-empted partner by leaping to game which made exploration under game difficult for the best game or slam.


We like to deviate from Goren with these two auctions. 1/♠-P-1NT-P   2NT shows the balanced 18-19 HCP’s and not a leap to 3NT. The reason behind this is why pre-empt partner to the 4 level to find the best spot ?. We can use relays and other understandings if we keep the auction at a sane 2 level with these HCP ranges. The invitational 2NT bid is not needed as we already opened those hands 1NT. A leap to 3NT should again be a “picture” bid probably with a long running major and a bit of a gamble.  Same principle with 1♣/-P-1NT  bid 2NT with the 18-19 and not 3NT. The invitational hands have already mean opened 1NT and a simple rebid of your minor can show the distributional invitational range hands. A leap to 3NT should be a “picture bid” with a long minor and a bit of a gamble.