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Opening 1NT

An opening bid of 1NT shows a balanced hand with 12-14 points. However, it is important to realise that high-card points are but a guide to trick-taking, not a gospel. Take these three hands.

Hand a) Hand b) Hand c)
♠ Q 10 8
K J 10
A J 10 9 4
 10 9
♠ J 6 3
A J 2
K J 2
 Q 7 3 2
♠ A Q 2
K J 2
A J 2
 8 5 3 2

  • Hand (a) is superb – a good five-card suit in a hand replete with intermediates. This hand is clearly worth at least 12 points. You should open 1NT.
  • Hand (b) on the other hand is really grotty – no intermediates, no sequential high cards, and the barren 4333 shape. This hand is not worth 12 points and you should not open 1NT, rather pass.
  • Hand (c) is a very poor 15 for the same reasons as (b) is a poor 12 – barren shape, no intermediates, no sequences. Your hand is worth only 12-14 points and you should downgrade and open 1NT.

If someone says, “You can’t open 1NT with (say) Hand (c) because you’ve got 15 points” (as though you’re in some way cheating), show them this Beginner Corner.

Google “K & R Hand Evaluator”. You can input a hand and it will tell how many points the hand is worth. If you’re curious, (a) is worth 12.45, (b) is worth 9.55 (wow – that’s low), (c) is worth 13.50.

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