Teacher's Manual

Discovering bidding: the 1NT opening bid

Session 4.1 : The 1NT opening bid, the responder’s decision making


Session program.


  • Introduction to bidding
  • Balanced hands
  • The conditions for a 1NT opening
  • Rebids with a balanced hand
  • Notions on the planning of a hand

Introduction to bidding

At this time of year, you still have about a dozen of sessions of 45 to 50 minutes to have the pupils discover the bidding.
It will only be a playful approach to bidding using a few landmarks, so that by the end of the school year the pupils may have a little idea on what "real" bridge is.
You will need to give them two important landmarks:


A game is played when you have at least 25 points and a slam when you have at least 33 points.
You play a suit contract when you have a fit and a no trump contact when you don’t.

You will then let the children the initiative of bidding the contracts using the Decision Table and the landmark you have given them, this to avoid transforming bridge sessions into sessions for learning and applying of rules and bidding tables.
You must consider that if they make mistakes, it’s not really a problem, and avoid spending too much time correcting their mistakes .

As the bidding mechanism is not part of the theme program, don’t talk about it! Better choose the following solution: place a single bidding box in the middle of the table, as well as some "Pass" cards. One after the other, the children will take the pack of cards corresponding to their bid. It allows them to observe the suits hierarchy and the order of the bids. Show them quite clearly that they must not only take the desired card but the whole pack.

Who is declarer?

The fact that the children will bid changes of course the attribution of the final contract, as per the rules of bridge. It is the time to teach them the “standard” procedure.

The declarer is the player who first bids the "suit" (including No Trump, of course) of the final contract.

Give the following examples:

South
North
 
1NT
pass
3NT
South is the first one to have bid in No Trump. He will be the declarer and North will be the dummy.
 
South
North
 
1NT
pass
4 
It is North who bid the Hearts and plays the contract.

As usual, once the declarer has been determined, it is the player seated on his left who will make the opening lead.


The notion of balanced hand


Remind them that the word "hand" also designates the cards each player has received, i.e. 13 cards.
Place a pack of cards on each table and ask the pupils to build balanced hands (without considering high or low cards). Have them say that the resulting hands have no void or singleton, or very long suit. Have them also notice that there is no “void” in the distribution.
Tell them that such a hand is called a balanced hand.

There are three possible distributions for a balanced hand: 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, and 5-3-3-2

Explain to them that this is how is called the number of cards in each suit starting with the longest. Give a pack of cards at each table and have the children build a few balanced hands.


The 1NT opening bid


When the opener has a balanced hand of 16, 17 or 18 points, he no longer says "I open" but bids 1NT.


For the time being, don’t tell them that you don’t open with 1NT with a 5-card major (they will study that in theme 5), but don’t give them any example with a 5-card major.


Partner’s rebid with a balanced hand


When the responder himself owns a balanced hand, the contract will be played in No Trumps.
You will not talk of Stayman and Texas just now.
The responder knows the opener’s strength with a 2 points precision. His rebid should take three factors into account:

  • The evaluation of his side’s total number of points.
  • A reference to the Decision Table to decide on the contract level in No Trumps.
  • Knowledge of the useless levels.

Which are the useful levels?
The ones that allow you to score a high premium:

  • Game level: 3NT  i.e. 9 tricks, at least 25 points
  • Small slam level: 6NT i.e. 12 tricks, at least 33 points
  • Grand slam level: 7NT i.e. all the tricks (rare), at least 37 points


Exercises

Study with the children a few responder hands that you will place face up on the table. Have them reason, always having them refer to the Decision Table.

1NT opening

1
2
3
  Q 6
  A 9 5
  Q 6
 A 9 7 3
  K Q 6
  J 9 7 3
  J 7 6
  K 5 4 2
  J 7 6
  K 9 4 2
  A J 5
  J 9 4 2

The responder has 10 points. The side’s total number of points is at least 26. You bid the game in 3NT.
Hand 1 :

The responder has 17 points. The side’s total number of points is at least 33 points. You bid the small slam in 6NT.
Hand 2 :

The responder has 5 points. The side’s total number of points cannot reach 25. There is no hope of winning a game. The responder should pass.
Hand 3 :


Planning your hand in No Trump


Up to now, the pupils are familiar with the notions of establishing a suit and communication between the two hands. It is now time to start speaking of planning the hand. At first, you will only have them list their resources, i.e. count their sure tricks.

They obtain an "a priori" result:

  • I have enough tricks for my contract: I focus on cashing them
  • I don’t have enough tricks: I must create the missing ones, all the while thinking of what will happen when the opponents will be on the lead

The main object of the session four hands is bidding the right contract. The card play allows applying all the notions discovered in the previous sessions :

    Declarer:
  • Establish and take honor and length tricks
  • Discard correctly, so as to keep your high tricks
  • Manage transportations

  • Defence : learn to carefully observe the dummy
  • Not discard a high card
  • Return in the lead suit


Session first hand (4.1.1)

Be careful when discarding.

Hand 4.1.1     Dealer North

 
  7 5 4
  Q 8
  K J 10
  Q J 10 3 2
 
  J 9 8 3
  A K J 10
  7 4 2
  9 7
 
N
  K Q 10
  9 7 3 2
  9 8 6 5
  8 6
W
 
E
 
S
 
 
  A 6 2
  6 5 4
  A Q 3
  A K 5 4
 

South
West
North
East
I pass
I pass
1NT
3NT
I pass

 

Lead: A
North has 9 points and he knows his partner has 16, 17 or 18 points. The total is at least 25 points:  the Decision Table indicates he should bid the game at 3NT.
Playing the defence: After the opening lead of the Ace of Hearts, West should carefully look at the dummy and take four tricks in Hearts.
Score: 3NT = : 400 NS



Session second hand (4.1.2)

Manage communications

Hand 4.1.2     Dealer East

 
  A K 4
  8 7
  A 8 6 2
  A Q 5 3
 
  9 7
  6 4 3 2
  K Q J 10
  10 6 2
 
N
  10 8 6 3
  J 10 9 5
  5 4 3
  9 8
W
 
E
 
S
 
 
  Q J 5 2
  A K Q
  9 7
  K J 7 4
 

South
West
North
East
I pass
1NT
6NT
I pass

 

Lead: K
South must win four tricks in Spades starting with the short-hand honors.
Score: 6NT = : 990 NS



Session third hand (4.1.3)

Defence: cash your tricks

Hand 4.1.3     Dealer South

 
  Q 5 2
  J 8 6 5
  Q J
  7 5 4 3
 
  7 4
  A K Q 10
  A K 10 9
  9 6 2
 
N
  10 9 8 3
  9 3 2
  8 4 3 2
  J 8
W
 
E
 
S
 
  A K J 6
  7 4
  7 6 5
  A K Q 10
 

South
West
North
East
1NT
I pass

 

Lead: A
With his 6 points, North knows that the side’s strength is less than 25 points. As there is no hope of game, he should pass.
Defence play: West must quickly cash his seven tricks after observing the dummy: three tricks in Hearts and four in Diamonds.
Score: 1NT -1 : 50 EW



Session fourth hand (4.1.4)

Establishing honors; don’t panic!

Hand 4.1.4     Dealer West

 
  7 3
  A J 7
  K 5 4
  J 10 9 8 3
 
  K Q J 10
  9 5 2
  Q J 9 3
  5 2
 
N
  8 6 5
  Q 10 8 4 3
  10 6 2
  A 7
W
 
E
 
S
 
 
  A 9 4 2
  K 6
  A 8 7
  K Q 6 4
 

South
West
North
East
I pass
I pass
I pass
1NT
3NT
I pass

 

Lead: K
Declarer's play: Immediately establish the Clubs despite the danger in Spades.
Defenses play: East should return a Spade as soon as he takes the lead in Clubs.
As Spades break evenly, the contract shouldn’t go down.
Score: 3NT = : 400 NS.