Wednesday, May 05, 2004 3:07 PM

Serious 3NT Theory




            One of the worst bidding crimes is showing your values to partner then essentially  “bidding them again”. The “serious 3NT” is a tool  to get to slams from both sides of the table. The rule for “serious 3NT” theory is that either side Q bids as a courtesy in case the other side in unlimited &  has slam aspirations. If one side does not bid 3NT when they have the chance there is no “serious” slam aspirations. That should be a signal to stay in game unless exceptional distributional hands. Q bidding of course does not show any extra values with “serious 3NT” theory.  Serious 3NT only applies with a major suit fit and at least a 4-4 fit in trump.


            Once you do make a “serious 3NT” bid you have indicated to partner that you want to go to slam. Once you have got that bid off your chest and do not have any extra you can bid game with impunity knowing that you have “done your duty”  If partner does not carry on there must be a reason so the hand probably belong in game .


            A partner and I had a “serious 3NT auction” where the principle of “ bidding your hand the 2nd time”  came up. Partner opened 1♠ and I bid 2 which brought 3from partner . I bid 3♠ and partner made a serious slam try with 3NT .  I had xxx AK10xxx x AQx   so as ordered I bid 4♣ and partner bid 4 . I complied with 4 and partner bid Blackwood. With all the aces we contracted for 6 which was a hopeless slam and went down one.  Why was the slam so bad ?  The main reason was that it was bid from only one side of the table. Partner had a nice hand for his serious 3NT bid but nothing really extra for a serious slam try bid. He was “all in” ( to borrow a poker expression)   with his 3NT bid so he can bid 4 over my 4 with impunity. Now my judgment comes into play . I have exactly zero HCP’s in his two suits. I have nice controls outside which I have showed him . I will drag my feet and pass 4 and that’s the limit of the hand .  Both sides contributed to the final game contract and avoiding the bad slam.


            There is no such thing about being embarrassed about your opener and not show controls when asked by the “serious 3NT “ bidder or an unlimited hand . An unlimited hand demands a Q bid just as much as a ‘serious 3NT” bid.  Say  you open 1 with this bow wow  A109xxx xx Qx KQ10  and partner bids 2 . You choose 2 ( maybe 2NT would be better ) and partner bids 3 . This shows that partner is unlimited and demands a Q bid.  You can not refuse to do so because your hand is bad . The reason will become obvious later in this auction. You bid 4♣ and partner bids 4 and you retreat to 4 . Partner holds xxx KQJ1098 AKJ10 void and partner gives up as you have shown duplication of value in clubs and you never made any serious slam try yourself . You win 12 IMPs as the spades do not behave and 5 does not make ! The opponents were in 5 down one on an aborted slam try !


            Ok. See what happens when if you do not Q bid 4♣ as asked by the unlimited hand and bid 4 . Partner now knows that there is no duplication of value in clubs ! In order to have an opener your points must be in spades and possible the heart Ace . Knowing that you do not have the ♣ Ace or King partner now bids 4NT and you are too high . The “serious 3NT” philosophy is supposed to allow the partnership to explore slam below game level. If you break the rules you end up like the “standard” bidders the ignominy of a 5 level contract going one down.


            There are a number of unique and useful inferences playing “serious 3NT” theory . The jump to game is a picture bid showing no outside controls. This means that partner has good trump or an opener does not exist.  AKQxx Qx QJxx xx        !-p-2♣-p   2♦-p-2-p  4  . Partner has 109x Kx AKx AKxxx  and knows that you do not have the heart Ace.  You points must all be in spades for your opener .  He bids 6 after your 5 Blackwood response because the slam is better then 50-50 with the known AKQ of trump over there. The heart Ace can be onside or partner can hold the heart queen which makes the slam very very good..