Playing 3 No-Trump when both sides enter the auction

Just because your opponents interfere in the bidding, this does not mean that you should not activey search for a three No-Trump. This month, we will study the principles concerning natural No-Trump bids during competitive sequences and we will then see how to investigate for missing stoppers.


1-Natural bids at No-trump: the fundamental principles

Principle 1: To bid 2NT or 3NT, you need a stopper in the suit(s) that were bid by the opponents. This equally applies to the opener, the responder and the side that intervened.




South shows a stopper in the opponent’s suit in all three example.

Principle 2: Bidding 1NT does not always promise a stopper in the opponents’ suit(s). In order to clarify this slightly ambiguous principle, it is important to differentiate between these two sequences, which may seem similar but are not:



In sequence 1), look at what could happen if, as South, you bid 1NT without a Heart stopper:


West leads a Heart and the defense can take the first five tricks. If it is played from the North hand, the contract is unbeatable. That’s unfortunate!

In the second case, on the other hand, North sits behind the Hearts, so if he has a stopper (the doubleton King, for example), it does not matter which hand plays the contract.

Consequently, in sequence 1), 1NT must promise a stopper and in sequence 2), this is not compulsory (however if North wants to play in No-trumps he may want to check its existence).

Rule: if you freely bid 1NT, you promise a stopper in the opponent’s suit, if you have to bid (after a forcing bid by partner), you don’t guarantee it.

2-The quest for stoppers

When the lack of a stopper in their suit makes it impossible to bid No-trump, you need to find a replacement auction. When you’d like to bid 2NT or 3NT but can’t, you’ll usually use a cue-bid to show your problem.

When it is 1NT, on the other hand, that you can’t bid, you’ll have to either pass, double or lie. Let’s look at all this a bit closer:

♠ 10 5 2
♥ K Q 3
♦ A Q 5
♣ K 7 4 2

Looking for a stopper for 3NT.

♠ 9 5 3
♥ Q 4
♦ A Q 5
♣ A J 10 6 4


♠ 7 4 2
♥ K 5
♦ 10 8 2
♣ A J 10 6 3

2♣ and 1NT are forbidden and it is impossible to double with only two Hearts;

Should we, yes or no, be concerned with stoppers in the suits that the opponents did not bid? We have to answer with a “no”, for both pragmatic and technical reasons.

♠ K J 4
♥ 10 5
♦ A K J 6 5 4
♣ 9 5

Without worrying about Hearts.

Principle: When the opponents have bid only one suit, you should only worry about a stopper in that suit. In that case, the cue-bid is an asking bid.

The situation is a little different if the opposing side has shown two suits. Then, it is necessary to check for stoppers in both suits.

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