Ted's Bridge World Simulatron

Responding to a 15-17 Notrump – Part III
A Reader's Contribution

How Good Is:   A . Kxxx . JT87x . xxx

After opening 1NT, your partner responds 2 over your Stayman inquiry.  I believe that most players would follow up with an invitational 2NT.  Let's see whether that is best:


Nope.  It appears that diamond contracts average nearly two tricks better than notrump.  Passing 2, therefore, is a prohibitive matchpoint favorite.  Of course, as has proved so frequently the case in other simulations, trying for the game bonus can be a substantial total-point winner — provided that your opponents donate their quota of tricks in the play!

Now suppose that opener responds 2 (denying hearts).  Again, I daresay that most would try an invitational 2NT.  An alternative would be to sign off in 3.  Let's test that comparison:


Even though the contract is a level higher this time, it still is better to play in diamonds at matchpoints.  And it remains far better to invite game at imps.

* At matchpoints, play in diamonds when opener has no major.

* At imps, invite game.

Of course, opener might cooperate by rebidding 2.  Now the question is whether we should invite game or simply bid it.  Here is the answer:


Okay, there is no news here: just bid the game, and come out ahead in the long run.

* With a 4-4 heart fit, go to game.

What about a general strategy for handling this hand?  The following chart details a number of options, with their total-point expectations:


What?  Sign off in 2?  What system could even do that?  The answer is: my own system supports such an exit (we don't play Stayman!); but that's another story.  Take the ace or king away from this hand, and becomes the standout contract.  The actual collection, however, is too good for such conservatism, as there is much game potential.  Note, however, that 2 outscores 1NT even when opener might be long in one or both majors.

It appears that the best overall strategy is the one that perhaps most players would adopt:

* Raise 2 to game; invite in Notrump otherwise.


My thanks to reader Ed Judy for submitting this problem.

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