Friday, January 26, 2007 4:05 PM

Serious 3NT - Hearts




The following is a quote from Fred Gittleman in his original article on the “serious 3NT”.  “When hearts is agreed at the three level, opener must bid 3 if he has a control in spades. Any other bid would deny a spade control (3NT would be Serious with no spade control).” In effect , in this one situation you can be making a “serious slam try” by bidding 3. I suggest that in this one auction only ( hearts agreed )  , a serious 3NT bid over the 3 bid have a specialized meaning. I feel 3NT in this auction should show very good hearts. Why ? because 3 is ambiguous. Instead of a courtesy Q bid , partner could have serious slam interest but she is just not allowed to bid 3NT as she has a spade control.

A serious 3NT is a Q bid which must follow the “up the line” principle of Q bids. NT is higher ranking than spades therefore as in all Q bidding theory , failure to Q bid in a lower ranking suit ( spades ) denies a control in that suit. Therefore if hearts are agreed and partner Q bids 3 , care must be taken. Partner could have a serious slam try and not just bidding spades as a courtesy. If she retreats to the trump suit at the first opportunity , the 3 bid was probably a courtesy.

It is hard to grasp the concept that 3NT is just a Q bid as in standard American bidding. You need this bid or else you could not Q bid as a courtesy. There is no HCP standard for a serious 3NT Q bid. It is just a hand that is to strong for a Q bid. Quoting Meckwell “If you fail to bid serious 3NT when you have the opportunity and cue-bid instead, that carries the following message: "Partner, I do not have serious slam interest, but I am cue-bidding in case you do."  This understanding takes away the Standard American notion that you can Q bid with a good hand. If you have slam intentions , the serious 3NT Q bid is used


BJ Trelford & I had a hand last night. AKxxx 987x QJ ♣AK . I opened 1and BJ bid 2 followed by 2 by me. BJ raised to 3. I would love to bid the “serious 3NT” signaling my slam intentions but I cannot as that would deny a spade control. So I bid 3 and partner has Jx AQJ10 AKxxx ♣xx . I think the correct bid is 3NT saying I have excellent trump. If you do not have excellent trump , just make a courtesy Q bid of 4 and partner may be clued into a trump problem.


In our system after a 2NT opening if you accept the transfer , it shows a major fit. This leaves the door open for a serious 3NT bid & a spade Q bid by responder. Same rules apply as 3NT would deny a spade control but shows serious slam interest.



                               3-P-3NT serious slam try , no spade control





I suggest that in both these auctions , the serious 3NT should suggest good trump by responder. A direct Q bid could pin point weakness in trump. If you have both good trump & a Q bid , always bid 3NT first.


The “serious 3NT” Q bid is such an important Q bid in our auctions that show a major fit , I do not know how we bid slams before. I think slams were just a random stroke of good or bad luck before.