Following an opening bid of 1 No Trump of practically any range the three level has been idle, unused, unemployed, and in general inactive as a possible response bid by the responder. Over time and during the evolution of the game of bridge many bridge players within the bridge community have devised and developed methods for bids on the three level, thereby unlocking many new creative and innovative means to describe the holding to partner.

Note: In addition to this scheme for three-level responses to an opening bid by partner of 1 No Trump it would be prudent for the reader to also consider other possible reaponse methods. There are various methods with multiple definitions attached to an immediate response on the three level. One such sensible and logical scheme has no designation, but it is well known as simply Three Level Notrump Responses.

Background Information

Bridge authors, bridge theorists, and experienced bridge players have not assumed authorship of such concepts, but rather expanded on them, began to categorize them, and also to establish parameters in order to bring discipline to the various and sometimes chaotic definitions of such response methods on the three level.

The reader must be aware of the important fact that several of these response methods have been possibly replaced by newer methods, perhaps more modern methods reflecting a more precise manner of responding. However, such methods do not invalidate these listed response methods, since they are, or were an important part of the history of the evolution of the game and its concepts of communicating information.

Below is a presentation of various response methods attached to all four responses on the three level, which have various meanings, different meanings, and distinctly separate meanings. The attempt is made to present those response methods, which have a logical foundation, clearly defined parameters, thereby establishing a definite cornerstone to the various concepts.

The attempt is made to define the meaning in logical terms and to present an illustration for such a response method. The reader must remember that such response methods are presented only in order that the reader has a choice, an option as to whether the concept is compatible and suitable for the individual partnership agreement. No one response method has ever been preferred or favored, only offered for the convenience of the bridge player.

     
1. A three-level response of 3 Clubs is strong, forcing, and showing slam interest.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
A5
KJ9
AQJ10843
The responder informs partner that a Minor suit slam in Clubs is a strongly logical contract. The partnership can, via continuations, discover whether the final contract should be a small or grand slam in Clubs, or whether the final contract should be a small or grand slam in No Trump.
         
2. A three-level response of 3 Clubs is weak and always preemptive. Partner is requested to pass, which is not mandatory. Partner may have sufficient entry cards to Clubs, and the strongly suggested minimum is three cards.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
Q5
J98
QJ108643
The responder informs partner that the holding contains at least a 6-card Club suit, and only weak values insufficient for a game contract.
         
3. A three-level response of 3 Clubs is invitational. The No Trump bidder can either pass or continue to 3 No Trump with a minimum of about 2.5 to 3 good entries to the Club suit held by the responder. The reason for this meaning provides the partnership a method of distinguishing between a weak and strong Club suit because this option remains open via the transfer bid of 2 Spades (Four-Suit Transfer Bids).
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3  
     
3
QJ5
J9
QJ108643
The responder informs partner that the holding contains at least a 6-card Club suit, and only weak values insufficient for a game contract.
         
4. A three-level response of 3 Clubs is a transfer bid to Diamonds. All continuations are per partnership agreement. The values held by the responder can also be, per agreement, weak or strong, which is determined either by a pass following the transfer or any continuation method.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
Q5
QJ108643
764
The responder can have a very weak holding in Diamonds. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can pass with a weak holding. (See next example.)
     
A
KQ
QJ108643
KJ3
The responder can have a very strong holding in Diamonds. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can continue to explore for either a game contract or even a slam contract.
         
5. A three-level response of 3 Clubs promises a two-suited holding in both Minor suits. Per partnership agreement this first response can be either weak or invitational.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
95
QJ1086
Q10975
The responder has a two-suited holding in both Minor suits. The partnership decides whether to treat this response method as invitational or weak. If the No Trump bidder is prefers the Club suit, then the No Trump bidder passes, and, if not, corrects to Diamonds.
         
6. A three-level response of 3 Clubs has several open options for the partnership. The foundation of this response may also be considered as an original Stayman-type response asking for a 4/5-card Major suit. The partnership has the option of employing this concept to apply to either a 5-card Major suit or a good 4-card Major suit with the strongly recommended minimum of two working values such a AK, AQ, KQ, KJ.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
KJ985
QJ72
A8
64
The responder has a 4-card or, per agreement, a 5-card Major suit. This response requests the No Trump bidder to bid a Major suit within the established parameters, and, if not, then to bid 3 Diamonds. The held values must be sufficient in order to justify the three-level response.
         
7. A three-level response of 3 Clubs promises a pattern of a three-suited holding, which is short in Clubs, normally a 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-3-2 shape. The shortness may be at most two cards in the Club suit, generally a singleton. In this manner the responder can also show that no stopper is held in the Club suit. The responder must hold sufficient values to compete on the three level, and therefore this response can be considered by partnership agreement as invitational. Since the No Trump bidder knows the pattern, then the No Trump bidder rebids the best suit. Any continuations by the responder promises game values. By an established or implied fit the partnership agreement can also be that this response allows the partnership to explore slam with corresponding values held by the responder.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
KQ76
KJ75
QJ10
64
The responder promises a 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-4-2 pattern. It is not recommended that the responder is void in Clubs, only short in Clubs.
         
8. A three-level response of 3 Clubs is a transfer bid to Diamonds with the intent to search for a slam.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
 
AKJ
Q1065
K94
QJ9
 
4
KJ7
AQJ10763
AK
The responder promises at least a 6-card Diamond suit and slam values. This bid is absolutely forcing. The concept is based on the premise that the contract should be declared by the No Trump bidder, and therefore the transfer bid is necessary to accomplish this. Following the transfer bid the responder employs the Ace or Keycard inquiry to search for the best possible contract. Since this transfer bid establishes the Diamond suit as the trump suit, the final contract may also be a No Trump contract if all suits are stopped for at least one round.
     
1. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds is strong, forcing, and showing slam interest.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
A5
AQJ10843
KJ9
The responder informs partner that a Minor suit slam in Diamonds is a strongly logical contract. The partnership can, via continuations, discover whether the final contract should be a small or grand slam in Diamonds, or whether the final contract should be a small or grand slam in No Trump.
         
2. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds is weak and always preemptive. Partner is requested to pass, which is not mandatory. Partner may have sufficient entry cards to Diamonds, and the strongly suggested minimum is three cards.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
Q5
QJ108643
J98
The responder informs partner that the holding contains at least a 6-card Diamond suit, and only weak values insufficient for a game contract.
         
3. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds is invitational. The No Trump bidder can either pass or continue to 3 No Trump with a minimum of about 2.5 to 3 good entries to the Diamond suit held by the responder. The reason for this meaning provides the partnership a method of distinguishing between a weak and strong Diamond suit because this option remains open via the transfer bid of 2 Spades (Four-Suit Transfer Bids).
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
43
95
QJ108643
KQ
The responder informs partner that the holding contains at least a 5-5 pattern in both Minor suits. The agreement is also that the holding contains sufficient values for game in a Minor suit, and is therefore considered game-forcing. The No Trump bidder, following the first response of 3 Diamonds, then decides whether to place the final contract in a Minor suit game or in a game contract in No Trump.
         
4. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds promises a pattern of a three-suited holding, which is short in Diamonds, normally a 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-3-2 shape. The shortness may be at most two cards in the Diamond suit, generally a singleton. In this manner the responder can also show that no stopper is held in the Diamond suit. The responder must hold sufficient values to compete on the three level, and therefore this response can be considered by partnership agreement as invitational. Since the No Trump bidder knows the pattern, then the No Trump bidder rebids the best suit. Any continuations by the responder promises game values. By an established or implied fit the partnership agreement can also be that this response allows the partnership to explore slam with corresponding values held by the responder.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
KQ76
KJ75
64
QJ10
The responder promises a 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-4-2 pattern. It is not recommended that the responder is void in Diamonds, only short in Diamonds.
         
5. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds is a transfer bid to Hearts. All continuations are per partnership agreement. The values held by the responder can also be, per agreement, weak or strong, which is determined either by a pass following the transfer or any continuation method.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
QJ108643
Q5
764
The responder can have a very weak holding in Hearts. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can pass with a weak holding. (See next example.)
     
A
QJ108643
KQ
KJ3
The responder can have a very strong holding in Hearts. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can continue to explore for either a game contract or even a slam contract.
         
6. A three-level response of 3 Diamonds promises both Major suits with a distribution of 5-5 generally by unfavorable vulnerability and, per partnership agreement, a distribution of 5-4 by equal or unfavorable vulnerability. The working values should be in both of the intended suits.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
QJ1086
Q10975
3
95
The responder has a two-suited holding in both Major suits. The partnership decides whether to treat this response method as invitational or weak. If the agreement is that this first response is weak in values, then the No Trump bidder rebids the Major suit. If the partnership agrees to play this first response as invitational, then the No Trump bidder has the opportunity to bid game when holding generally a 4-card Major and maximum values. (Note: those players employing the Losing Trick Count method can possibly better judge the trick-taking ability of both combined holdings.)
     
1. A three-level response of 3 Hearts is game forcing, promising at least a 5-card suit. This first response is also generally considered to be slam-oriented.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
QJ10
KQ1095
AQ
Q98
The responder bids 3 Hearts to show at least a 5-card suit in Hearts. As the holding of the responder guarantees a game contract, the search for a possible slam can be initiated. However, if the No Trump bidder has minimum values, then the No Trump bidder is permitted to sign off in a game contract in No Trump or Hearts. On the other hand, if the responder has additional values, then the responder will continue the bidding until a slam is found.
         
2. A three-level response of 3 Hearts shows both Major suits with a pattern of 5-5. This first response is invitational only. By different stages of vulnerability the partnership may decide to include a pattern of 5-4 in both Major suits with good working values in both suits.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
QJ1032
KQ1095
73
9
The responder bids 3 Hearts to show a distribution of 5-5 (or 5-4) in both Major suits. Since the values for game are not held by the responder, then the No Trump bidder can, with moderate to maximum values, decide that a game contract is possible in the best fit.
         
3. A three-level response of 3 Hearts shows either shortness in Hearts, (or shortness in Spades), and a pattern of at least 5-4 in both Minor suits. The responder must hold this shape and sufficient values to bid on the three level. The partnership decides whether this first response is invitational or game-forcing.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
1095
QJ984
KJ107
The responder bids 3 Hearts to show a distribution of 5-4 in both Minor suits and also shortness in one of the Major suits, generally a singleton. The values of the responder are insufficient to bid game in No Trump and informs the No Trump bidder only of the pattern. The working values should be in both the Minor suits.
         
4. A three-level response of 3 Hearts is a transfer bid to Spades. All continuations are per partnership agreement. The values held by the responder can also be, per agreement, weak or strong, which is determined either by a pass following the transfer or any continuation method.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
QJ108643
3
Q5
764
The responder can have a very weak holding in Spades. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can pass with a weak holding. (See next example.)
     
QJ108643
A
KQ
KJ3
The responder can have a very strong holding in Spades. Since the No Trump bidder is forced to accept the transfer per agreement, then the responder can continue to explore for either a game contract or even a slam contract.
     
1. A three-level response of 3 Spades is game forcing, promises at least a 5-card Spade suit with working values, and is strongly slam-oriented.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
QJ1086
AJ
KQ
AQ43
The responder can have a very strong holding in Spades with at least a 5-card suit with multiple working values. The No Trump bidder, with only a 2-card Spade suit, can sign off in 3 No Trump, which does not stop the responder from continuing the bidding. A sign-off by the No Trump bidder only informs partner of minimum values. With additional values the responder can continue to search for a slam in No Trump.
         
2. A three-level response of 3 Spades shows both Major suits with a pattern of 5-5. This first response is considered game forcing. By different stages of vulnerability the partnership may decide to include a pattern of 5-4 in both Major suits with good working values in both suits.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
KQ932
KQ1095
73
9
The responder can have a very strong holding in Spades with at least a 5-card suit with multiple working values. The No Trump bidder, with only a 2-card Spade suit, can sign off in 3 No Trump, which does not stop the responder from continuing the bidding. A sign-off by the No Trump bidder only informs partner of minimum values. With additional values the responder can continue to search for a slam in No Trump.
         
3. A three-level response of 3 Spades shows either shortness in Spades, (or shortness in Hearts), and a pattern of at least 5-4 in both Minor suits. The responder must hold this shape and sufficient values to bid on the three level. This first response is game-forcing.
  Partner   Responder Meaning
  1 NT     The partnership agreement is a range between 15 and 17 points.
      3 First response by the responder on the three level.
     
3
A95
KQ984
KJ107
The responder bids 3 Spades to show a distribution of 5-4 in both Minor suits and also shortness in one of the Major suits, generally a singleton. The values of the responder are sufficient to bid a game contract in No Trump and informs the No Trump bidder only of the pattern. The working values should be in both the Minor suits. The major logic behind this first response is the fact that the final contract may quite possibly be a slam contract in a Minor suit.

 


     
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