The Stayman Convention is a powerful tool to escape a deficient no trump contract. In these examples, we show South’s points which include points for long suit count, as allowed for a hand responding in a new suit.

1] Rescue Operation (0-8 points)

South as responder
♠ 9 8 6 5
8 6 5 3
8 7 5 4 2
♣ —


South has zilcho points! Stayman is a rescue response. He had to say something. North’s reply indicates no major suit holding. It is also taking a chance, because his partner has promised nothing more than a 4-card major. His bid did not even promise any points. North needs eight tricks. I’d be surprised if he makes it.

2] Stopping below Game (9-11 points)

South as responder
♠ Q 8 6 5
Q J 7 5 4
♣ K 10 3


South has 10 points (including 2 for the singleton) this time. He will stop the partnership below Game. Again the Stayman 2♣s does not promise any points.  On this occasion, however, he has 8 HCP and two promising majors. South will Pass to agree s. If South had, say, five ♠s including a King and Queen and four s he might well bid 2♠s in his second response. Either way North need not rebid and the contract will aim to make eight tricks with hearts or spades as trumps. With a singleton South had to steer North away from a No Trump contract. With nothing worse than a doubleton and 10 points, responder would rarely call Stayman.

3] Inviting to Game (12-13 points)

South as responder
♠ 9 5 2
A Q J 7 4
Q J 9 8
♣ Q

No bid

Things are beginning to look interesting. South has 12 HCP and will invite partner to Game in a suit contract. North’s reply shows a four-card spade suit but denies a heart suit.

Having failed to find a fit with his s, South follows up with 2NT to ask partner to go to 3NT if he is on maximum points. With 12 points North Passes.

Had North bid 2s in his first response instead of 2♠s, it would have shown he had no better than three-carders in majors. With his singleton club South would Pass.

If South had three diamonds instead of four and a doubleton club, in the above bidding sequence he might go for Game with a 3NT response.

4] Inviting to Game (12-13 points)

South as responder
♠ K Q J 6 2
K Q 9
8 7
♣ J 8 7


With 12 points South is once again looking for a major fit. But the 2 negative reply shows North has no 4-card major. South’s rebid to show his spades is an invitation to Game. He is asking partner to bid 4♠s if he is on maximum points with support of three cards in ♠s.

5] Forcing to Game (14-18 points)

South as responder
♠ A Q 9
A K 9 6
10 8
♣ J 9 7 4


South is bursting with opportunity. He asks North to show any four-card major on his rebid. And he strikes pay dirt. North has four hearts. South on 14 points, knows they have a combined 26 points, enough for Game in a major suit. He bids 4s.

With the same hand, South still clinches Game with a 3NT response after a negative reply from North who in this example had only three s:

6] Forcing to Game (14-18 points)

South as responder
♠ K 10
A K J  5 4
Q 10 8
♣ J 10 5


South is sitting with 14 points. After a negative bid from North he jumps to the three level in s (one more than necessary), which is forcing to Game. North will either agree hearts if he holds three of the cards with points (he would need the Q or J for example) or bid 3NT. He goes for Game in s.

In the second sequence North has shown four card support for ♠s. South responds with 3s showing him s was the major suit he wanted, not ♠s. Without a fit for spades, but still enough for Game, North will bid 3NT.


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By Nigel Benetton – based on the UK Acol Bridge Bidding System
Last updated: Tuesday, 13 April 2021