Friday, April 01, 2005 5:12 PM

Serious 3NT vrs Blackwood




          Serious 3NT to replace the single handed Blackwood is a great tool for “putting on the breaks” after a light opening bid. The “serious 3NT ” or the inference that you did not use the bid speaks volumes and it all takes place under game. Bidding your hand again is the most obnoxious of all Bridge faults. Tom & I had an auction where the inferences demanded in “serious 3NT” theory keeps the partnership out of a bad slam. I opened 1 and Tom held J10xx xx AQxx ♣AKQ . What do you respond with this hand ? There is no exact bid so you should pick the “best lie” . Responding a spade on that suit is quite lame. You could go to the two level in diamonds or jump to 3NT immediately. The jump to 3NT is systemic showing  15-17 HCP and 4-4 in the minors. AKQ is good as any 4 card suit so that’s the “lie” I would choose.


          Say instead , you bid 2 going in and partner bids 2 . You bid 3which shows an unlimited hand and brings all the “serious 3NT” inferences into play. If partner has a serious slam try , he will bid 3NT. If partner has any sort of a hand he will make a forced Q bid. If he returns to the trump suit it is the death response as far as slam tries go . I bid 4 which should show no outside controls with most of my HCP’s in spades. ♠AKQx QJxxx xx ♣Jx  is a likely hand on this auction. Even with a minimum , I am obligated to show a heart control if I have one. The beauty of “serious 3NT” is staying out of slams rather than just getting to them.


          What if partner did bid 4 over your 3 bid ? Do you bid Blackwood ? Again you have the “Serious 3NT” to fall back on. Partner did not make a serious slam try when he had the chance. If you had ♠AKxxAKxxx ♦xx ♣xx or better which is needed to make small opposite so many HCP’s in the minor suits he would have bid the “Serious 3NT” . Partners failure to do so means that 6 is highly unlikely with these cards.


          You do not need a “moose” to bid the “serious 3NT” , it is still a slam try after all . Once you have made your “serious 3NT” bid you have got that “off your chest” . This allows you to retreat to game knowing you have done your duty. The onus shifts to partner if there is a slam for the partnership . On this auction I would have bid 3NT with as little as ♠AKxx AQJxx xx ♣xx . Since I did not , there can not be a slam with partners cards .


          Opening light in the majors has a good tactical advantage. The “serious 3NT” is a great tool to allow you to “back track” once you have done so. Partner with good hands must infer that you did not use the “serious 3NT” for a reason or in rare cases did not show any controls when asked to do so. Serious 3NT theory was invented in part to prevent the 4NT bid and single handed placing the partnership in slam or going down at the 5 level.


          Remember to use the “serious 3NT” with all major suit hands where you are making a serious slam tram instead of a courtesy slam try. Maurice & Susan had this auction in the CNTC zone finals in Red Deer.


1-P-1-P   3-P-?  The 3 is a splinter with their methods and Susan holds ♠AQxxx AQxxx x ♣109 . Although it seems very anti-intuitive with a 5-5 , a serious slam try should be shown immediately. You have an offensive 5-5 opposite a jump to the 3 level so a 3NT bid conveys the message. Partner bids 4♣ and you are off to the races. If you bid 4 instead of 3NT you push the level to 5 and say you are only making a courtesy slam try. 3NT is a Q bid so you can bid it with any distribution !!