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checkback

Stayman convention

Stayman is a convention—in the playing card game contract bridge—used to find a 4-4 trump fit in a major suit after the 1NT opening bid. It can also be modified for use after an opening 2NT, 3NT (strong) or a 1NT overcall. While the convention is named after the person who first wrote about it, Samuel Stayman, it was actually invented by J.C.H. Marx, British bridge player in 1939 (who published it only in 1946), and apparently independently by Stayman's partner George Rapee in 1945.

The main reason for seeking a fit in a major suit is that the success rate for 4 or 4 with 26 HCP is about 80%, whereas 3NT with 26 HCP has a success rate of only 60%, or 50% with 25 HCP.. (The extra control from having a trump suit is often worth an extra trick in such situations.) Additionally, when using match points for scoring, the additional 20 points for making 4 or 4 versus 3NT can make a big difference.

Standard Stayman

Following an opening bid of 1NT, responder bids 2 to ask opener to bid a four card major suit if he has one. By using the Stayman convention, the responder takes control of the bidding since strength and distribution of the opener's hand is already known within a limited range. Typically, responder has at least one four-card major and is looking for a 4-4 fit in either major; however, Stayman may also be used by a very strong responder seeking information useful in pursuit of a slam. Opener has the following rebids available:

  • 2 – denies having a four card major
  • 2 – promises a four card heart suit, may also have a four card spade suit
  • 2 – promises a four card spade suit, denies having a four card heart suit

In the most basic variation of the convention, the responder normally continues as follows:

  • Pass – is a special case with a weak hand holding 4=4=5=0 or 4=4=4=1
  • 2NT – invitational, no 4-4 major suit fit apparent
  • 3NT – game values, no 4-4 major suit fit apparent
  • 4NT – invitational to slam, no 4-4 major suit fit apparent
  • 3 of opener's major – invitational, 4-4 major suit fit
  • 4 of opener's major – game values, 4-4 major suit fit
  • 2 or 2 would show 5 cards in that respective major and 4 cards in the other major

After an invitational bid, the opener will pass with minimum values (for the agreed opening notrump range) or bid game with maximum values. For example, if the opening 1NT range is agreed as 15-17 HCP, then an invitational responder hand will have a good 8 or 9 HCP. Opener will pass with 15 HCP, bid game with 17 HCP, and use judgment with 16 HCP.

When the responder continues in notrump and the opener holds four cards in both majors, the opener should 'correct' the contract to spades at the appropriate level. (It can be inferred that responder holds four spades unless holding a very strong slam-seeking hand.)

Some partners may agree to also use the 2NT, 3 or 3 rebids after Stayman to show the same card distributions but with the maximum strength for the 1NT opening bid, but this is rare in standard bidding. Other rebids by the opener are undefined.

There are many variations on this basic theme, and partnership agreement may alter the details of its use. It is one of the most widely-used conventions in bridge.

With Jacoby transfers

Today, Stayman is often used in conjunction with Jacoby transfers. With transfers in effect, the responder practically denies having a 5-card major, otherwise he would transfer to the major immediately. The only exception is when responder has 5-4 in majors; in that case, he would normally ask Stayman, and in case of 2 response, bid the longer major on the 2 level (invitational, non-forcing) or 3 level (forcing to game). (However, the latter hand can also be bid using initial transfer).

Forcing and non-Forcing Stayman

If Jacoby transfers are not played, there are two approaches to resolve the situations when the responder has a 5-card major. In one, more common, referred to as non-Forcing Stayman, in the sequence:
1NT–2; 2 – 2;
responder's simple rebid of a major suit is only invitational, showing 8-9 points and 5-card spade suit. In forcing Stayman variant, the bid is a one-round forcing.

In the original Precision Club system, forcing and non-forcing Staymans are differentiated in the start: 2 by responder shows only invitational values (and the continuation is as in the basic Stayman), while 2 is forcing to game (responder bids 2NT without majors).

Puppet Stayman

A frequent dilemma among players is whether to allow 1NT opening with 5-3-3-2 distribution which includes a five-card major suit. On one hand, a 5-3 major-suit can easily be missed if it is allowed; on the other, such hands present an awkward second-round rebid if opened 1 of a major (especially if 1NT is in 15-18 range). Puppet Stayman, invented by Kit Woolsey and Steve Robinson is a variation of the Stayman convention intended to solve that problem; it serves two purposes:

  • it allows the side to find a 5-3 fit when the notrump opener has a 5-card major.
  • it allows the side to find a 4-4 fit without revealing unnecessary information about the notrump opener's hand to the opponents.

After 1NT by opener, responder starts by bidding 2 just as in the standard Stayman convention, but the opener now responds 2 or 2 only with a 5-card major. Otherwise, the response is 2.

After 1NT–2; 2, the responder then tells opener which 4-card major he is interested in, by bidding the other one (or 2NT with both). Thus, 1NT–2; 2–2 shows 4 spades and 1NT–2; 2–2; shows 4 hearts.

Opener can either raise with a fit, or go back to NT. With maximum, he should raise to the game, and with minimum, bid on the lowest level, leaving the decision to the responder.

Here is a typical Puppet Stayman auction:

North South
1NT 2
2 2
3NT

Note that opener has denied a 5-card major and has denied a 4-card heart suit by not raising hearts after responder bid 2, but opener's bidding has not revealed anything about whether he has a 4-card spade suit as he would have had to do in a standard Stayman auction. This may be an advantage during the play in 3NT.

Puppet Stayman is more commonly used after a 2NT opening than after a 1NT opening.

Five Card Major Stayman

As described By Australian Ron Klinger) can be played with a weak or strong 1NT.

1NT - 2

  • 2 = minimum, no 5M
  • 2M = minimum, 5M
  • 2NT = Maximum, no 5M
  • 3M = Maximum, 5M

1NT - 2, 2 OR 2NT

  • 3 = Stayman
  • 3 = -->
  • 3 = -->
  • 3 = ?
  • 3NT = to play

After a transfer, accept it with any 4333, bid 3NT with only 2 trumps, otherwise bid 4M.

1NT - 2, 2 OR 2NT - 3 = Stayman

  • 3 = 4M333
  • 3 = 4, not 4333
  • 3 = 4, not 4333, not
  • 3NT = no 4M

1NT - 2, 2 OR 2NT - 3, 3

  • 3 = 4, not 4
  • 3 = 4, not 4
  • 3NT = to play
  • 4 = bid your 4 card Major

Checkback Stayman (two variations)

2 Checkback Stayman is used in the following bidding sequences, to "check back" if opener has major suit support, saying nothing additional about the club suit. Bidding Checkback implies that the responder has five cards in his major, and may have four in the other.

1m - 1M - 1NT - 2

The 2 is Checkback Stayman. Responses are as follows:

2 : No three card support for partner's suit, no four cards in other major. Minimum hand.
2/ : Bidding responder's major shows three, bidding the other major shows four. Minimum hand.
2NT : No three card support for partner's suit, no four cards in other major. Maximum hand.
3/ : Bidding responder's major shows three, bidding the other major shows four. Maximum hand.

When holding four of the other major and three of partner's suit, support partner's suit first.

2 Checkback Stayman is used to find a fit in spades when the 2 does not promise a 4M.

1NT - 2, 2 -

  • 2 = 4 spades not 4 hearts, either invitational or very strong
  • 2N = no 4 spades, invitational
  • 3N = 4 spades and game values

New minor forcing

New minor forcing is used in the following bidding sequences, to "check back" if opener has major suit support, it allows a return to the minor to play. Bidding Checkback implies that the responder has five cards in his major, and may have four in the other.

1 - 1M, 1NT - 2 = to play
1 - 1M, 1NT - 2 = to play

2 of the other minor is Checkback. Responses are as follows:

2 : four , no three card support for partner's suit, no four cards in other major. Minimum hand.
2/ : Bidding responder's major shows three, bidding the other major shows four. Minimum hand.
2NT : No three card support for partner's suit, no four cards in other major. Maximum hand.
3/ : Bidding responder's major shows three, bidding the other major shows four. Maximum hand.

When holding four of the other major and three of partner's suit, support partner's suit first.

Five-card Stayman

Five-card Stayman is used in response to a strong 2NT opening bid.

  • 3 = Five-card Stayman (otherwise known as Puppet Stayman)
  • 3 = --> hearts
  • 3 = --> spades
  • 3 = --> 5 spades and 4 hearts
  • 3NT = no 3+ major, to play

Responder bids 3 seeking information about declarer's major suit holding. Declarer replies:

  • 3NT denying a 4 or 5-card major
  • 3 showing a 5-card heart suit
  • 3 showing a 5-card spade suit
  • 3 holding a 4-card major and denying a 5-card major; following this responder bids:
    • 3 showing a 4-card spade suit and denying a 4-card heart suit
    • 3 showing a 4-card heart suit and denying a 4-card spade suit
    • 3NT denying a 4-card major, to play
    • 4 showing 4 spades and 4 hearts, slam try
      • 4 RKCB in hearts
      • 4 to play
      • 4 to play
      • 4NT RKCB in spades
    • 4 showing 4 spades and 4 hearts, you choose
    • 4NT denying a 4-card major, invitational to 6NT

By this means 5-3 and 4-4 major suit fits can be found.

References

External links

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