Three No-Trump: stopper problems

Bridge lesson

Without a fit in a major on your side it is obviously a No-Trump cvontract that you have to aim at. Do you absolutely have to stop all the suits? And how do you find out if you have those stoppers? Let’s look at the main technical principles when the opponents keep silent.

Summary:

The fundamental principles

› You don’t go looking for stoppers when two balanced hands are facing each other.

Nobody stops Diamonds, yet 3NT is the only possible game contract.

› On the other hand, playing 3NT with a singleton facing three small is a bridge disaster: with a singleton, it is mandatory to explore for stoppers.

Here, East must not let 3NT be the final contract – it is doomed whereas Six Clubs may be making: that’s the “magic of the singleton”.

› While the bidding unfolds it is important to focus on playing the No-Trump contract from the right side.

When it is played by East, 3NT is in danger when a Club is lead through the King. From West’s side it is unbeatable. This is one of the reasons why East should not bid 3NT after the start 1♦-1♥-1♠.

Technical consequences of the fundamental principles

With the exception of the often forced 1NT bid, the other bids must take these principles into account. When it comes to opener’s rebid, this is not always possible because opener’s duty is to describe the force and distribution of his hand.

♠ K J7 2
♥ 10 5 3
♦ A Q 7 4
♣ Q J

Despite the absence of a Heart stopper.

The responder on the other hand is not authorized to bid 2NT or 3NT without a stopper in all unbid suits (unless his partner has already made his rebid at No-trump).

› What should responder do if he cannot bid 3NT due to the lack of a stop in one suit?

He must bid a new suit in order to show his problems. But there are important differences depending on whether three suits have already been bid or if only one or two suits have been shown.

– If three suits have been bid: The fourth suit asks for a stopper in that suit

♠ K 5 2
♥ A Q 7 3
♦ K J 6
♣ 9 7 2

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