OPENING ONE NO TRUMP

Everyone enjoys opening a 1 No Trump, but what determines this bid? Believe it or not, the range for opening 1 No Trump can be as little as 10 high card points and can reach 18 high card points. This is a large range. Before a player opens 1 No Trump, there are several things to consider.

1. Strength: In counting the strength, only the high card points are counted. Never count distribution. Some players count an extra point for a 5-card suit and they also consider strongly the presence of Mr. Ten. We do not find this to be appropriate counting, even if it does work a certain percentage of the time. Every bridge teacher will instruct his students to open 1 No Trump with 16-18 high card points, and then inform them that this range has become obsolete. It seems that almost every bridge team has adopted its own range, and following is an attempt to categorize the range variations.

16-18 HCPs:

Strong, mostly obsolete

17-20 HCPs:

Roman System

15-17 HCPs:

Standard 5-card American System

14-16 HCPs:

Modern style of Precision

13-15 HCPs:

Nonvulnerable in the Acol System

12-14 HCPs:

Weak No Trump. Used also with the Kaplan-Sheinwold and Baron Systems

10-12 HCPs:

Mostly used at favorable vulnerability. Foundation of the Woodson Two-Way No Trump

8-10 HCPs:

So-called Kamikaze No Trump

There are some bridge players who alternate their No Trump range depending on the vulnerability and position at the table. Generally speaking, at favorable vulnerability the range is 12-14 high card points and at unfavorable vulnerability the range is 15-17 high card points.

2. Distribution: In most classes instructed by bridge teachers, the teacher will instruct the student of bridge not to open a No Trump with a 5-card Major suit. This means a hand distribution of 4-3-3-3 or 4-4-3-2 or 3-3-2-5 (the 5-card suit being a Minor). There should be no more than one Doubleton, absolutely no Void and no Singleton.

The science of bridge has changed however, and now hands with a 5-card Major are opened with the point count agreed upon. It is not always a requirement that the No Trump Bidder have a stopper in every suit, since the bidder is relaying with one bid the strength and distribution of his hand. The concept behind this understanding is the sometimes lack of a rebid. If there is no rebid possible, then it has proven effective to open the holding with 1 No Trump.

3. Location of Strength: If the No Trump bidder holds a tenace, which is an Ace and Queen in the same suit, then the decision to open a No Trump is stronger. Without this tenace, it might prove more prudent to open a suit. Many players disapprove of opening a No Trump with a weak doubleton. But in many cases, without a tenace and with a weak doubleton, a problem arises with the rebid.

It is wise to consider all these points before bidding No Trump. Count your strength, consider your distribution and location of strength. Each of these elements apply to opening 2 No Trump and 3 No Trump as well. As far as the point range, this is a matter between you and your partner. Whatever point range you select, please make it part of your partnership agreement.

Woodson Two-Way No Trump - This convention, named after Mr. William Woodson, permits an opening bid of 1 No Trump with any balanced hand and can contain 10-12 high card points or 16-18 high card points. There has been some recent controversy about this convention raised by the ACBL, so please check with your sponsoring organization first.
If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.
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