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Fewest HCP To Make Notrump

This page shows the fewest HCP needed to make a notrump contract against any defense (1) with favorable distribution and (2) against any distribution. Each contract can be declared by North or South, unless stated by South, then declarer is crucial. Most examples are not unique but show one of many possible layouts.

7 NT6 NT5 NT4 NT3 NT2 NT1 NT

Seven Notrump

1. 7 NT by South with 11 HCP

S
H
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C 7 6 5 4 3 2
S K
H K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
D
C
TableS
H
D A K Q J 10 9
C A K Q J 10 9 8
S A Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
H A
D
C

On a humorous note, this deal gives a whole new meaning to the principle of fast arrival. Not only does South make 7 NT, but so does West. Better bid it first!

2. 7 NT with 17 HCP

S 2
H 5 4 3 2
D A 5 4 3
C A 5 4 3
S K
H K Q J 10
D 9 8 7 6
C 9 8 7 6
TableS Q
H 9 8 7 6
D K Q J 10
C K Q J 10
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H A
D 2
C 2

3. 7 NT against any distribution with 19 HCP

S 2
H A 4 3 2
D A 4 3 2
C A 4 3 2
Table
S A K 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 5
D 5
C 5

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Six Notrump

4. 6 NT by South with 9 HCP

S
H
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
S K
H K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
D
C
TableS Q
H
D A K Q J 10 9
C A K Q J 10 9
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
H A
D
C 2

5. 6 NT with 13 HCP — thanks to Derek Wang, Taiwan

S 2
H A 4 3
D A 5 4 3
C 7 6 5 4 3
S K
H K Q J 10 9 8
D 10 9 8 7 6
C A
TableS Q
H 7 6 5
D K Q J
C K Q J 10 9 8
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 2
D 2
C 2

6. 6 NT by South against any distribution with 18 HCP

S 3 2
H 4 3 2
D A 5 4 3
C A 5 4 3
Table
S A Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
H K 5
D 6
C

7. 6 NT against any distribution with 19 HCP

S 4 3 2
H 4 3 2
D A 5 4 3
C A 3 2
Table
S A Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5
H A 5
D 6
C 4

Six notrump is the only contract where the fewest HCP to make against any distribution is affected by which hand declares. (Compare the last two examples.)

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Five Notrump

8. 5 NT with 9 HCP — thanks to Derek Wang, Taiwan

S 2
H A 3
D 7 6 5 4 3
C 7 6 5 4 3
S K
H K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
D A
C A
TableS Q
H
D K Q J 10 9 8
C K Q J 10 9 8
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 2
D 2
C 2

9. 5 NT against any distribution with 17 HCP

S K 2
H Q 10 9 8 7 6
D A 2
C A 3 2
Table
S A 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 5 4 3 2
D
C

Note that opponents cannot take more than two hearts with H A-K-J alone.

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Four Notrump

10. 4 NT with 8 HCP

S 2
H K 3
D 7 6 5 4 3
C 7 6 5 4 3
S K
H A Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
D A
C A
TableS Q
H
D K Q J 10 9 8
C K Q J 10 9 8
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
H 2
D 2
C 2

11. 4 NT against any distribution with 16 HCP

S 5 4 3 2
H 4 3
D A 4 3
C A 5 4 3
Table
S A Q J 10 9 8 7 6
H J 10 9 2
D 2
C

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Three Notrump

12. 3 NT by South with 6 HCP

S
H
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C 7 6 5 4 3 2
S A K 6 5 4 3
H A K 7 5 4 3 2
D
C
TableS
H
D A K Q J 10 9
C A K Q J 10 9 8
S Q J 10 9 8 7 2
H Q J 10 9 8 6
D
C

Besides the HCP, South’s spot cards are the minimum ranks possible. For example, swapping the H 6 and H 5, allows West to defeat 3 NT. Playing it out to see this is a good exercise in two-hand technique.

13. 3 NT with 7 HCP

S 3 2
H Q 3 2
D 7 6 5 4
C 7 6 5 4
S K
H A K J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
D A
C A
TableS Q
H
D K Q J 10 9 8
C K Q J 10 9 8
S A J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
H
D 3 2
C 3 2

14. 3 NT against any distribution with 15 HCP

S 6 5 4 3 2
H 10 9 8 3 2
D 2
C A 2
Table
S A Q J 10 9 8 7
H
D A 4 3
C 5 4 3

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Two Notrump

15. 2 NT by South with 4 HCP

S
H
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C 7 6 5 4 3 2
S A K Q 5 4 3
H A K 7 5 4 3 2
D
C
TableS
H
D A K Q J 10 9
C A K Q J 10 9 8
S J 10 9 8 7 6 2
H Q J 10 9 8 6
D
C

16. 2 NT with 6 HCP

S 4 3 2
H A J 10 9
D 7 6 5
C 7 6 5
S A K
H K Q 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
D A
C A
TableS Q
H
D K Q J 10 9 8
C K Q J 10 9 8
S J 10 9 8 7 6 5
H
D 4 3 2
C 4 3 2

After any lead or defense, West can win only five tricks. Meanwhile, North can win three heart tricks, and spades are established for five more.

17. 2 NT against any distribution with 14 HCP

S K 4 3 2
H J 10 9 2
D Q 10 9 8 7
C
Table
S A 10 9 8 7 6 5
H
D 6 5 4 3 2
C A

Note that North’s hearts and diamonds are safe from damaging lead-throughs with only D A-K-J missing.

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One Notrump

18. 1 NT by South with 3 HCP

S
H
D 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
C 7 6 5 4 3 2
S A K Q 5 4 3
H A K J 7 5 3 2
D
C
TableS
H
D A K Q J 10 9
C A K Q J 10 9 8
S J 10 9 8 7 6 2
H Q 10 9 8 6 4
D
C

Note that South’s hearts cannot be jack-high (like spades) because this would allow West to establish and enjoy his long heart. The actual holding nets four tricks if West continually attacks hearts (not wise); else three tricks combined with four spade tricks. Again South’s spot cards are the minimum holdings possible.

19. 1 NT by North or South with 4 HCP — thanks to Tina Denlee, Quebec

S 8
H 7
D 10 9 8 7 6 5 4
C K J 9 2
S K Q J 10 9
H K Q J 10 9 8
D Q J
C
TableS A
H A
D A K
C A Q 10 8 7 6 5 4 3
S 7 6 5 4 3 2
H 6 5 4 3 2
D 3 2
C

This deal was the winner of Fewest HCP Notrump, my October 2016 contest that I instigated because the original entry here (with 5 HCP) could be improved. Well done, Tina!

20. 1 NT against any distribution with 13 HCP

S K 5 4 3 2
H 3 2
D J 10 9 8
C A 4
Table
S A 10 9 8 7 6
H J 10 9 8
D 2
C 3 2

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© 2008 Richard Pavlicek