Main   Bridge Basics 1TB7 by Richard Pavlicek  

Lesson 9

The Stayman Convention

If the opening bid is one notrump, responder is able to bid a five-card or longer major suit. This allows your partnership to locate a 5-3 or 6-2 major-suit trump fit. But what about a 4-4 trump fit? Remember that your primary bidding goal is to locate an eight-card major suit fit, no matter how those cards are divided.

This is the main purpose of the Stayman convention — to find a 4-4 major-suit trump fit after a notrump opening bid.

Basic Use

After a one-notrump opening bid, a response of two clubs requires 8 or more HCP. Further, responder must not have a 4-3-3-3 hand pattern — do not look for a suit contract when you cannot ruff anything. The two-club response is an artificial bid — it does not promise a club suit — and it is forcing. Responder typically has a four-card major suit and he wants to find out if opener has four cards to match.

Opener must bid a four-card (or five-card) major suit if he has one. With no four-card major suit, opener must bid two diamonds (also an artificial bid). Below is a summary of opener’s rebids after Stayman:

Opener hasRebid
4+ card major2 H or 2 S
No 4+ card major2 D

If opener happens to have both four-card majors, he should bid one of them. It makes little difference, but the recommended procedure is to bid hearts then, if responder does not raise hearts, opener should bid spades at his next turn.

Rebids by Responder

After the Stayman two-club response, it is responder’s duty to guide the bidding into the proper contract.

If opener showed a major suit and responder has four or more cards in that suit, responder should raise to the three level with 8-9 points to invite game; or raise to the four level with 10-14 points. Remember to count your distributional points as the dummy.

If a major-suit trump fit has not been found, responder usually should rebid two notrump with 8-9 points to invite game; or three notrump with 10-14 points.

Here is a summary of the common rebids after using Stayman:

PointsMajor Fit Found?Rebid
8-9No2 NT
Yes3 H or 3 S
10-14No3 NT
Yes4 H or 4 S

Besides the above, responder may also bid a five-card or longer suit of his own. With 8-9 points he may bid a major suit at the two level to invite game. With 10 or more points he may bid any suit at the three level, which is forcing. These rebids are summarized below:

PointsSuit LengthRebid
8-95+2 H or 2 S
10+5+3 of any suit

Stayman over Two Notrump

The Stayman convention works in a similar manner after an opening bid of two notrump (21-22 HCP). A response of three clubs asks for a four-card major suit. This requires 4 or more HCP and is game forcing.

Opener’s rebids are the same but one level higher — bid three hearts or three spades with four or more cards; or bid three diamonds to deny a four-card major.

Responder usually will raise opener’s major suit to game if a trump fit is found; or bid three notrump without a major-suit fit. These rebids are summarized below:

PointsMajor Fit Found?Rebid
4-10No3 NT
Yes4 H or 4 S


Minor Suit Responses

I have deliberately postponed the topic of minor-suit responses to a one-notrump opening, because it is controversial. Traditional methods, while still popular, are defective and ineffective, so I won’t perpetuate something you would only have to unlearn in the future. You might as well learn an effective method from the start.

First, remember that minor suits are a low priority in choosing the best contract. Generally, you should show a minor suit only with a very distributional hand, or if there is a chance for slam (see Lesson 11).

With 2-7 points responder may indicate a six-card or longer minor suit by jumping directly to three clubs or three diamonds. This is a sign-off bid — opener should pass because game is out of reach.

With 10 or more points responder may indicate a five-card or longer minor suit by using Stayman first — even with no major-suit interest — and next bidding three of his minor suit. This is game forcing.

To summarize these rules:

PointsLengthHow to Show
2-76+Jump to 3 C or 3 D
10+5+2 C then 3 C or 3 D


Quiz 9

Assume you are the dealer on each hand. Fill in your opening bid and the rebid you would make. Partner’s response is shown in each case.

Enter calls as: 1H 2C 3N 4S 6D P

1. YouPartner
S A K 22 C
H 9 7 5
D K Q 4
C A 10 8 2

2. YouPartner
S A Q 9 23 C
H A 10 3
D K Q 8 2
C Q 3

3. YouPartner
S K 23 C
H A K 8 3
D A K Q 2
C Q 10 8

4. YouPartner
S J 9 7 22 C
D A Q 8
C K Q J 2


Now assume your partner opens the bidding and rebids as shown. Fill in the response and the rebid you would make.

5. PartnerYou
S A 21 NT
H K Q 10 2
D 9 8 5 42 H
C 9 8 2

6. PartnerYou
S A J 3 21 NT
H 10 8 7 6
D K 9 8 72 D
C 2

7. PartnerYou
S K 21 NT
H J 8 7 4
D A Q 9 8 7 42 S
C 8

8. PartnerYou
S Q J 5 21 NT
H 4 3
D J 10 6 22 S
C A 9 2

9. PartnerYou
S A K 7 21 NT
H 8 2
D 10 8 42 H
C A Q 7 3

10. PartnerYou
S J 9 8 6 51 NT
H A 9 2
D K 3 22 D
C 6 5

11. PartnerYou
S Q J 10 22 NT
H 9 2
D K 8 6 43 H
C 10 9 8

12. PartnerYou
S 9 8 7 62 NT
H A Q 9 7 6
D 103 S
C 8 4 2


© 2012 Richard Pavlicek