Tuesday, September 21, 2004 5:55 AM

4NT Openers



          If partner opened 4NT how would you interpret it ? It can not be a flat 28 HCP as you would open 2♣ first. How about a 6-6 in the minors ? That is possible but needs special partnership agreement.  Here is Mike Lawrence’s view on this subject.

Using Bidding Space to Save Bidding Space
By Mike Lawrence



















♠A 10 6 4
9 3
♣A K 10 9 7 3

♠Q J 7 5
Q 5 2
J 4 2
♣J 5

A K Q 10 8 7 6 5

♠8 3 2
10 9 8 6 4 3
♣Q 8 6 4


“West took his ace of clubs and late in the play, he got his ace of spades, setting six diamonds one trick.

There is a simple solution to this disaster. Play that a four notrump opening asks for aces. In an earlier hand in this Web Page, I mentioned this use for an opening four notrump bid. On that hand, it came up as a theoretical thought. On this hand, it came up as a reality.

Using four notrump as Blackwood means you can't open four notrump to show 27-28 points, but that is a small price. In my lifetime, I can remember only one hand where I wanted to show the big balanced hand. Since I have no idea how to respond to a 27 point opening four notrump bid, I am happy to have a meaning for four notrump that I can understand.

In my lifetime, I have opened four notrump to ask for aces on six or seven hands. I won't claim that I gained on all of them but I will claim that I never had a bad result by doing so. In every case, we avoided various potential dangers. “


Why play a 4NT opener as Ace asking ?  In a word ,  you are pre-empting the opponents out of the auction. When you have distributional rocks , they have distribution also. They come in at a low level and make life virtually impossible for you. Opening 4NT keeps the vultures out ! Maurice & I play  a 4NT opening bid as specific Ace asking .  A 5♣ response shows no Aces so we need another way to show the club Ace. 5,5 & 5 shows that Ace specifically . 5NT shows the club Ace .   Lets modify the Mike Lawrence hand slightly and add a diamond and take away the club. You now hold  9 AKJ AKQ1087654 void . Opening 1 is silly and 2♣ would seem to bring in the vultures. Open 4NT and hear partner respond 5 !  Bidding 7seems to be an odds on shot . This 4NT opening is like exclusion Blackwood.  With voids you want to know the specific Ace that partner has . If you are worried about two Aces , do not open 4NT !

Tom and I play 4NT opener as a specific Ace ask also but Tom got more ingenious. He suggests transfer responses to Blackwood !  5♣ is none and bids up the line are one above. 5 shows the club Ace , 5 shows the diamond Ace and 5 shows the heart Ace. This treatment allows you to ask directly for a 2nd Ace since partners response is artificial.  If opener now bids any suit over partners response he is asking for that specific Ace . 6♣ means I do not have the 2nd Ace. Bidding the suit above again means I do have the 2nd Ace.

You open 4NT with x  void  AKQJ10xxx KQJ10   and partner holds Axxx xxxx xx Axx    . Partner responds 5 saying I have the club Ace. Partner bids 5 which asks for the spade Ace. 5NT says I have that one also. Partner now bids 7 and that ends the auction. Change the hand to

void   x  AKQJ1098x  KQJ10  and partner with xxxx Axxx xx Axx        4NT brings a 5 response and opener bids 5 asking for that Ace and partner bids 5 saying yes I have it . The next bid is 7 .

Susan held A KQJ109xxxx void KQx as you have 10  tricks in your own hand opening 1 is absurd. Opening 2♣ and rebidding 4 is a possibility but still 2nd best to a 4NT opening bid. Susan opens 4NT and I bid 5 showing the diamond Ace and 5 has an excellent play.