1NT Overcall for Takeout
1NT overcalls are standard takeout doubles
with the exception that they cannot have any
very big hands. The normal maximum is about
18 HCP with a void in opener's suit, 17 with
a singleton, and 15 with a doubleton. With
more, start with a power double. NTOs guarantee
at least three-card support for every unbid suit.
Without that, don't do it. They promise 2 or
fewer cards in opener's suit. Exceptions to
that ought to be very rare. The reason for
these stringent requirements is that advancer
is going to take advantage of the limited
nature of the 1NT overcall and jump preemptively
a lot more than vs. a standard takeout double,
because he doesn't have to worry about a strong
jump overcall. Passes are very rare and tend
to deny a four-card suit outside of opener's.
Since advancer's hand must be weakish, almost
all of the high cards are in that suit. He
should not have more than 10 HCPs in general.
2-level bids are natural, nonforcing, same as
normal minimum level responses to a takeout double.
3-level bids are blocking, long suits, limited
values. Except red on white, they are not
invitational, although with a good fit and a
good hand, NTOer can bid game. Expect about
5-6 HCP and a good 5-card suit, although it
will be six fairly often. Red on white, jumps
are not strictly invitational, either, but they
are sound hands, so NTOer can move with a good fit.
All invitations start with the cue bid or 2NT.
2NT is a normal 2NT response (11-13ish) but
with a better stop, since the opening lead
will come through it.
I don't know what jump cues mean.
If they double: Advancer redoubles with four-
card length in the highest unbid suit (usually
spades). He can bid a suit with five or more
cards. Once in awhile, advancer will have only
one place to play. Bid it, even without five.
It won't happen that he has a good hand,
and if he does, he can make forcing bids of various
sorts (usually passes) until we get doubled. A
pass denies any of those hands, although tactical
bidding is sensible sometimes. Jumps are preemptive.
Think about jumping in any five-card suit if you have
two or fewer cards in their suit; RHO is going to
have to support partner, and if he takes a simple
preference at the 3-level, that will sound ambiguous,
and if he jumps to the 4-level, they've had a nullo
auction. If advancer passes, opener redoubles without
a five-card suit; he bids one if he has it. (Some partnerships
play this the reverse way.)
After doubles, bids in opener's suit are natural.
Note: if advancer is short in spades, he should
take some direct action, so passing normally shows
2 or 3 spades.
If responder bids a new suit or raises opener,
doubles are responsive (takeout). At high levels
(4 and up) these doubles just show cards and
will be passed more often than not, although
(1m)-1NT!-(4m)-X is takeout for the majors and
is not passed often.
Rebids by NTOer
NTOer can double or cue to show a maximum with
one or fewer cards in their suit. Since the
NTOer can't have a huge hand, the cue is almost
always reserved for a void in their suit.
Passed-hand 1NT overcalls are takeout and
can be light. They promise exactly 3 cards
in the highest unbid suit; double promises
four or more. This is not necessary to be
played; we can play 1NT by a passed hand as
unusual instead if you prefer.
Weird bids are just the same as if we had
made a takeout double. 2NT will sometimes
be for the minors.
- Auctions that begin with their opening bid
and our takeout double tend to be fit auctions.
It's rare that no fit exists. Therefore, we
want to accelerate the auction. We don't want
the opening side to keep the advantage of forcing
1-level investigatory bids.
- 1NT overcalls never have a great hand. Advancer
can use this information to jump the bidding
on hands that risk missing game or risk hitting
shortness in a takeout doubler's hand.
- Our game bidding is cramped. This happens rarely
because we usually bid game on fit, not high cards.
Investigation is difficult, however, so we lose
- We can get a little high sometimes.
- Notrump is played from the wrong side sometimes.
Nov. 11, 1997