The origin of this concept is unknown. However, in the early stages of the evolving game of bridge there were many concepts founded and promoted, which were not completely enthusiastically received by the bridge community.
The idea of the No Trump as a non-suit and a denomination ranking above the Spade suit was supposedly first introduced into the game of cards in the year 1902 according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The French term is sans atout and means trump without a suit. As a historical note it is rather factually incongruous to proclaim that the denomination of No Trump was introduced first in the year 1902 when this feature was an essential part of the game of Whist, a centuries old card game.
The concept of the range of an opening bid of No Trump has been dissected, deconstructed, and analyzed by many of the pioneering bridge enthusiasts. One of these concepts is presented and designated as the Forcing 1 No Trump Opening Bid.
The parameters of this particular No Trump opening bid is that the range lies between 21 and 24 high card points. The holding can be either a balanced holding or an unbalanced holding with game tendencies, meaning that only one trick from partner would ensure a game contract, if not a slam contract.
Using this principle, these parameters, the player would open 1 No Trump and the responder would respond Blackwood-style, meaning that the first response would be completely artificial and not natural. The conventional method known as Blackwood was devised by Mr. Easley Blackwood from Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, in the year 1933. This year is 4-5 years before the actual administrative organization of the American Contract Bridge League. Hence the possible variations and modifications of the concept before they were actually sanctioned and/or governed by the elected authoritative body.
The following four examples illustrate all point ranges from 21 to 24 high card points and a balanced holding. The main idea of this concept is that it adheres very much to the so-called Fast Approach System as promoted by Mr. Ely Culbertson. Four possible examples are presented with ranges from 21 high card points to 24 high card points. Each example would require an opening of 1 No Trump and the rebid would be 2 No Trump to show a balanced holding.
South KJ85 AK7 AK3 QJ9
South AK5 QJ75 AKJ A87
South AK5 QJ75 AKJ AJ7
South AK5 QJ7 AKJ5 AQ8 21 22 23 24
The first response of the responder would be Blackwood-style. Each response would show the number of held Aces.
Responder Meaning 2 : Shows 0 Aces. 2 : Shows 1 Ace. 2 : Shows 2 Aces. 2 : Shows 3 Aces.
No Trump Rebid by Opener
Once the range has been communicated by the forcing 1 No Trump opening bid, and the number of held Aces by the responder has been determined, then the opener will show a balanced holding by rebidding No Trump. This bidding sequence allows the responder then to employ the Stayman conventional method to ask whether there is a 4-card Major suit.
Note: The Stayman conventional method to ask for a 4-card Major suit was devised by Mr. George Rapee, and published by Mr. Samuel Stayman in The Bridge World first in the June issue in the year 1945. This places the origins of this concept more likely in the late 1940s than in the early or late 1930s.
A typical bidding sequence without competition would be as follows:
South KJ85 AK7 AK3 QJ9
North A743 1086 985 764 Bid Response Meaning 1 NT Shows a range between 21 and 24 high card points. Either balanced or unbalanced holding. 2 Shows the possession of 1 Ace. 2 NT Shows a balanced holding with a range between 21 and 24 high card points. 3 Stayman conventional method asking for a 4-card Major suit. Stayman Response Options: 3 Shows no 4-card Major suit. 3 Shows a 4-card Heart suit. 3 Shows a 4-card Spade suit. 3 NT Shows 4-cards at least in both Major suits.
Range of No Trump
The responder can inquire about the range of the No Trump in the following manner:
South KJ85 AK7 AK3 QJ9
North A743 1086 985 764 Bid Response Meaning 1 NT Shows a range between 21 and 24 high card points. Either balanced or unbalanced holding. 2 Shows the possession of 1 Ace. 2 NT Shows a balanced holding with a range between 21 and 24 high card points. 3 The responder asks for the range of the No Trump opening bid, which is divided into two parts, the lower range and the higher range. 3 The opener shows the lower range between 21 and 22 high card points. 3 The opener shows the higher range between 23 and 24 high card points.
Thus, by knowing the number of Aces held by the responder and the definite range of the No Trump opening the partnership can better judge whether only a game partscore contract, a game contract, or a slam contract is possible.
Note: A Forcing 1 No Trump opening bid is by no means forcing to game. The bid is only one-round forcing. In the case that the responder holds no values whatsoever, then a rebid of 2 No Trump by the opener showing a balanced distribution and a range between 21 and 24 high card points, then game is no an absolute possibility. The responder may pass.
Suit Rebid by Opener
Since the Forcing 1 No Trump opening bid can also show an unbalanced holding, then the rebids become different. The opener will use the Canapé principle of bidding the shorter suit first before the longer suit in order to show the distribution. The Canapé principle defines the distribution quickly and as soon as the responder knows of a 4-card suit and a longer suit, then filling in the other 3 cards is rather easily accomplished: 0-3 or 2-1. There are only two probabilities.
The following example illustrates this feature.
South KQJ4 AK 5 AKJ1097
North A763 10976 98 Q64 Bid Response Meaning 1 NT Shows a range between 21 and 24 high card points. Either balanced or unblanced holding. 2 Shows the possession of 1 Ace. 2 The opener shows an unbalanced distribution and bids the shorter suit first. 3 The responder knows of the fit in Spades, but since the bidding begins again on the three level and sufficient bidding space, the responder feels safe in asking about the longer suit. The responder by-passes No Trump in order to inquire via a suit bid. 4 The opener shows the second suit, which is Clubs. 6//NT The responder knows of two known fits, one in Spades and one in Clubs. The decision for a small slam is safe and the responder can continue to inquire about the number of Aces, but will arrive at either a slam contract in Spades, Clubs, or No Trump.
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. BCC
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