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Stayman

The Stayman convention is used to find a 4-4 major fit after a 1NT or 2NT opening.

With two balanced hands and 25+ points, 3NT is often the best contract - but not always! If your side has an 8 card heart fit or an 8 card spade fit then 4 or 4♠ might be better. However, after a 1NT opening, there is no way that responder can bid naturally to show a four card suit because if responder bids a suit at the 2 or 3 level that shows a 5 card suit.

Instead of using a 2♣ response to 1NT to show clubs, you can change the meaning of 2♣ to Stayman, asking if partner has a 4 card major.

Opener
1NT
Responder
2♣ - Stayman, do you have a 4 card major?
Opener
2 - No, I do not have a 4 card major
2 - Yes, I have a 4 card heart suit
2♠ - Yes, I have a 4 card spade suit

Stayman for Acol players

In the hand below, North and South are playing Acol so the 1NT opening shows 12-points. South has enough points to bid game but 3NT will go down because the opposition can take four heart tricks and a diamond. However, 4♠ will make with careful play.

You can try playing that hand now in either 3NT or 4♠

Stayman in Bridge

Stayman for Standard players

Here's an example for Standard players using a 15-17 1NT opening. Try the hand in 3NT and also in 4♠

Stayman in Bridge

Bidding to game after Stayman

Stayman in Bridge

South bids 2♣ to see if North has a 4 card major. North says yes! - I do. Now South can bid 4♠.

Stayman in Bridge

This time the opener has denied a 4 card major. Responder simply bids 3NT now, knowing there is no major fit.

Stayman in Bridge

Opener shows a 4 card heart suit but that's not the major suit that responder was looking for. Responder bids 3NT.

Invitational bids after Stayman

In these next two examples, North and South are playing a 15-17 1NT opening.

2NT Invitation

Stayman in Bridge

Opener shows a 4 card heart suit but that wasn't the suit partner was looking for. 2NT is still inviting to game, though, and shows the same number of points as a direct 1NT - 2NT bid would have shown. North is happy to accept the invitation.

Raise to 3 or 3♠

Stayman in Bridge

This time North and South find a spade fit. Responder's 3♠ invites opener to bid game with a maximum hand.

Weak Stayman

Stayman in Bridge

South will pass no matter what the opener bids.

Stayman after Interference - system on or system off?

If the opening 1NT bid is doubled do you still play Stayman? It's up to you and your partner to decide. Some partnerships prefer to keep 2♣ as a natural bid after the double. It's up to you, just make sure you have an agreement with your partner.

The Sky Bridge Club computer plays system off. If the opening 1NT bid is doubled then 2♣ reverts to it's natural meaning.

Related Lessons

Bidding System - You can easily set your bidding system to play Acol or Standard.

Comments

heatherte1
I can't remember is there a minimum point count to do stayman?
heatherte1
Thanks Graeme. I don't take it seriously enough as in working things through. Just like telling kids to think of the consequences!
tormntos734
graeme: I love your site and your staff and what you have taught me. I always hope to remember the axiom---'partners always bid what you don't want them to'. LOL
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