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Stayman and Continuations

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

Stayman Bridge Convention

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. 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.


- 2♣ = Stayman, do you have a 4 card major?
-- 2 = I do not have a 4 card major
-- 2 - I have a 4 card heart suit and I might have 4 spades
-- 2♠ - I have a 4 card spade suit

In the hand below, North and South are playing Acol so the 1NT opening shows 12-14 points.

Bridge Card Game

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.

This time the opener has denied a 4 card major.

Bridge Card Game

Responder simply bids 3NT now, knowing there is no major fit.

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

Bridge Card Game

Responder bids 3NT.

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

Bridge Card Game

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.

This time North and South find a spade fit.

Bridge Card Game

Responder's 3♠ invites opener to bid game with a maximum hand.

South doesn't fancy playing in 1NT

Bridge Card Game

South will pass no matter what the opener bids.

Stayman Continuations

Stayman Continuations

- 2♣
-- 2
--- 2 = 4♠+5, to play ( or Crawling Stayman )
--- 2♠ = 5♠+4, to play
--- 3 = 5♠+4, GF (Smolen)
--- 3♠ = 4♠+5, GF (Smolen)

tags: #stayman #notrumps

Stayman is one of the most commonly used bridge conventions.

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