The 3 no trump opener

The 3NT opener shows a long solid 8-card minor, with little or no outside strength— no more than a king or queen, say. At least 10 points must be held in the minor suit. Suitable hands might be:

  • A-K-Q-J-10-x minimum; or,
  • A-K-Q-J-10-x-x plus outside K-x maximum.

The point range is 10-13. By inference this bid is discouraging partner from even thinking about majors. Indeed, the 3NT pre-emptive can be seen as the same as a four-minor suit opening, but with the advantage of saving a level.

The following hand is ideal for a 3NT plunge. North has a seven-carder in diamonds with 10 points in that very suit. There is some distributional value outside of that, a doubleton and a singleton, but no additional high card points:

North as opener
10 4
7 3 2
A K Q J 10 9 3


A 4 reply is standard Acol to show insufficient stops for a no trump contract.

South as responder
7 4
A Q 9 6 2
8 5 2
7 5 4


North will pass if clubs are his suit or convert to 4 if that was his long minor, as he does so in this sequence. The contract thus stops below Game.

If South was stronger, but again with insufficient stops, he would reply 5 to show a good, unbalanced hand. Again North will convert to diamonds if clubs is not his minor.

3NTNorth has 10-13 points and at least a 7-card minor
1) PassWith a stop in the other three suits South will pass
2) 4♣With insufficient stops, and weakness South will push the partnership into a suit, as here, 4♣

If South can see 12 tricks he might look for a slam.

Responses to 3NT opener
Where South has a balanced hand:
0-11PassWith a stop in each of the other three suits
12+4NTLooking for a slam
Where South has an unbalanced hand
74♣Showing 3-card trump support (even if he has a good 4-card major, which he must ignore)
95♣Showing 4-card trump support

In each case North’s minor suit can be inferred. To play it safe South always responds in the lowest suit when unbalanced: 4. North can always convert.

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To continue reading go to: The 4 suit opener

By Nigel Benetton – based on the UK Acol Bridge Bidding System

Last updated: Friday, 2nd July 2021