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The Six Point Rule

The reason why you must always respond to partner’s One-of-a-Suit Opener with six+ points is that partner can have 19 points. 19 + 6 = 25: game (well, 3NT, 4 & 4 - 5/5 require nearer 28, 29 and should generally be avoided).

However if the opponent sitting on your right bids, you no longer have to bid with six-seven-odd points, for partner now has another bid.

Exercise: Partner, South, opens 1 What would you do as North if West passes?

Hand A Hand B Hand C
♠ J 7 4 2
7 4
A 9 5 2
J 5 2
♠ 9 7 3
K 6
J 7 4 3 2
K 5 2
♠  4 3 2
K J 7 4 3 2
Q 7 3
A). Respond 1, showing four+ spades and six+ points.
B). Respond 1NT, the “Dustbin One Notrump”, showing 6-9 points in a hand that cannot bid anything else ie not four spades and not the strength to respond in a new suit at the two-level [**use the Rule of 14: respond in a new suit at the two-level when your points added to the number of cards in your long suit reaches 14].
C). Respond 1NT. This does not show a desire to play in 1NT (as you see) merely a hand that has to bid (six+ pts) with no other bid.

However say West bids 1, the auction going 1 from partner, 1 on your right. Does that change things?

You bet they’e different! When West bids, the pressure is taken off you, as partner now has another bid. Your 1NT bid remains as nominally 6-9, although in practice nearer nine than six, but you are actually expressing the opinion that you want to play 1NT. It is not some nebulous dustbin bid any longer.

A). Pass. If you bid 1NT, you are saying you wish to play that contract. Do you really want to do that with this barren six-count? I don’t really think so.
B). Pass. To bid 1NT after an overcall guarantees a stopper in the overcalled suit. You do not have the vestige of a spade stopper.
C). Pass. Not 1NT as you have no spade stopper, nor a real desire to play in 1NT. And not 2 as you fail the Rule of 14 (see ** above).
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