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.
|3NT||North has 10-13 points and at least a 7-card minor|
|1) Pass||With 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:|
|0-11||Pass||With a stop in each of the other three suits|
|12+||4NT||Looking for a slam|
|Where South has an unbalanced hand|
|7||4♣||Showing 3-card trump support (even if he has a good 4-card major, which he must ignore)|
|9||5♣||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.
By Nigel Benetton – based on the UK Acol Bridge Bidding System
Last updated: Friday, 2nd July 2021