Monday, June 06, 2005 10:54 PM

Serious 3NT - Limited Hands




          Serious 3NT theory is based on the fact that partner may have an unlimited hand. You Q bid as a courtesy. What if partner has limited his hand in some way ? How much should you have for a “serious 3NT” slam try ? If partner has made a 2/1 or a Jacoby 2NT or a splinter , a serious 3NT slam try is made if the possibility of a slam exists opposite a minimum or you are making a grand slam try. The operative word here is a slam try . If the limited hand brings you near the slam zone , you should flash your serious slam intentions immediately. If you do not , the limited hand is under no obligation to Q bid. Kiz and I had a hand tonight that shows this principle in action.


          Do not forget that Standard bidders do not Q bid as a courtesy. A Q bid shows extra and is a slam try not a slam force. Playing Serious 3NT theory you need a replacement for the standard American Q bid or there is ambiguity with Q bids. You can not make a courtesy Q bid with 11 HCP & make the same bid with 17 HCP as a slam try. The serious 3NT Q bid is that replacement. A serious 3NT is a Q bid too big just to Q bid as a courtesy.


          I held KQxx KQJ10x Kxx ♣x  and opened 1 and Kiz responded a spade. RHO made a takeout double for the minors and I bid 3 which is a limited invitational bid showing 16-18 in support of spades counting distribution. Kiz held A10xx Axx Ax ♣1098x so do you make a token slam try of 4 or a serious slam try of 3NT ? You have 3 Aces which is more than partner can reasonably expect for a non serious slam try. If you bid 4 partner can infer that you do not have serious intentions unless he has a super maximum of near 18 HCP’s for his previous bid. I would not bother showing my heart king with my minimum and signoff in 4.


          With a serious 3NT , I am obligated to Q bid 4♣ minimum or not. +1430 in spades is reached on an excellent auction. Serious 3NT usually applies when unlimited hands are involved. In rare cases you can use the tool opposite limited hands when you do not need a maximum from the limited hand to make slam. A serious 3NT is not a demand to play a slam. It is still a try so do not hesitate to use the bid. It is a devastatingly accurate way of getting to slams. Just ask Meckwell !!


          The serious 3NT is especially needed if you are playing Jacoby 2NT as “limit raise” or better. Otherwise , it would be like pulling teeth to get the limit raise to Q bid a valuable card. Responder would always want to return to the trump suit to describe the limit raise rather than joining the party. This is normally the first duty of responder to describe the limit raise. Quite often the “serious 3NT” does not care as she is just looking for specific controls for slam.


          Serious 3NT brings in other concepts like order of Q bidding , 1st & 2nd round controls , Last train slam tries and Lackwood. These tools are for expert Bridge players only. Takes time to study the concepts and practice them. You must get used to bidding 3NT as a “Q bid” as it is not a natural reflex. Partner does take inferences when you do not use the bid though.