Non-Forcing NT

A non-forcing notrump response to partner's opening 1-bid (without interference by your RHO) is Standard American. (See Forcing Notrump for an alternative, or if that site is down or you are offline, see an archived copy of the page.)

A non-forcing notrump is artificial in that it does not promise a balanced notrump hand, and in fact, may hide the fact that you would greatly prefer a suit contract.

What NF 1NT does show is that

  • you do not have enough points (<11 HCPs) to bid a suit on the 2 level;
  • you do not have enough trump support to raise partner's suit; and
  • you do not have a good enough 4+ card suit to bid on the 1 level.

If you are a passed hand, you can make a non-jump bid on the 2 level rather than bidding 1NT because you have already limited your hand.

Example #1:

  • Partner opens 1H.
  • You have K32-32-Q876-Q432.
  • You cannot raise Hearts nor bid 1S, so you bid 1NT.
    Coincidentally, you have a NT shaped hand.

Example #2:

  • Partner opens 1H.
  • You have 32-2-AKQ876-5432. You cannot raise Hearts no bid 1S, and you do not have enough points to bid your Diamond suit on the 2 level, so as much as you do NOT want to play in NT, you have no choice but to respond 1N. However, if you are a passed hand, you CAN bid 2D.

Example #3:

  • Partner opens 1H.
  • You have 9832-32-A876-K32.
  • You cannot raise Hearts. You do have 4 Spades, but as Bobby Wolff pointed out in one of his newspaper columns -- you do not want partner raising you with 3 when you have such a ratty 4, so it is better to bid 1N.

    An alternative view is that if opener does have 4 Spades, then the fact that you have no honors raises the odds substantially that he does. Plus once you bypass your 4-card Spade suit, it will be much harder to find the 4-4 fit when opener does have 4 Spades too.

    If you have a stronger hand (11+ HCPs), you should definitely bid 1S rather than 1N with a hand like 9832-32-AK76-AJ32 because if partner raises your Spades, you can bid 2N to show that you have 11+ HCPs and only 4 Spades. With <11 HCPs, if partner raises to 2S, you have to pass.

Example #4:

  • Partner opens 1C.
  • You have K32-A32-7632-432.
  • You cannot raise Clubs (which requires 5 since partner may open 1C with only 3 of them), and as in example 3, you do not have a good 4-card suit to bid, and your A and K will provide some transportation to dummy so that opener can take finesses. So bid 1N.

    Some people say that you should always bypass a 4-card Diamond suit, even with something like 732-632-AK98-432 because even if you DO find a fit (say that partner raises to 2D and you pass), then the opponents are actually more likely to compete rather than let it pass out because of the Law of Total Tricks. (If that link is dead or you are offline, view an archived copy.)