LC Standard -- Notrump Openings (Part 2)

In this 2nd part of the most-difficult-to-fill-out section in LC Standard, we examine interference after 1NT. If you can just make it through this notrump section, it will be smooth sailing thereafter. I'm sorry to have to start out with such a heavy dose of "system."

The items marked in the box in the illustration below will be discussed this time.

Warning: There is no easy way to dish out this medicine. If you want to enjoy life more, just skip this article and don't worry about your opponents interfering against 1NT. If you want to torture yourself and be prepared for interference, be willing to memorize. I know--it is painful.

INTERFERENCE AGAINST 1NT

We'll get to the "lebensohl" convention in a moment. First...

If the opponents make anartificialdouble of 1NT :

Ignore it completely--system is on 100%. Whatever you play after 1NT (Pass), play it after 1NT (artificialdouble). Redouble shows a good hand (typically balanced) and sets up penalty doubles.

Example:

W
N
E
S
1NT
X
2

2 is a transfer to hearts.

If the opponents make apenaltydouble of 1NT :

• Pass= to play.
• Redouble = S.O.S./takeout.
• Two-of-any-suit = natural, non-forcing (NF)

There are more spectacular and better scientific options here, but for the few times it ever comes up, this is easiest to remember. In effect, this is all natural, with an S.O.S. redouble for rescue.

Example:

W
N
E
S
1NT
X
2

2 is to play.

If the opponents overcall 1NT with 2:

• Double =Stayman
• Everything else= same meaning as if they had passed. (Exception:If the2overcall shows majors, then use the system of responses at the end of this article.)

Example:

W
N
E
S
1NT
2
2

2 is atransfer to hearts (ignoring the opponents)

If the opponents overcall 1NT with 2or higher,and they promise one or two suits (including the suit bid):

• Double = takeout/negative (Usenegative doubles"through infinity" -- no penalty doubles, no "stolen bid" or "mirror" doubles)
• 2-level bids = Natural, NF
• 2NT = Natural, Invitational(but see the recommendation to uselebensohlbelow).
• 3-level bids = Natural, Game Forcing (GF)(but see the recommendation to usetransferlebensohlbelow)
• Cue-bidding their suit = Game Forcing(but see the recommendation to usetransferlebensohlbelow)

Example:

W
N
E
S
1NT
2
2

2 is to play.

If you've been playing less than 5 years (or play like you've been playing less than 5 years) or have a tough time with memory, I suggest calling it quits here. Wait for the next article to continue LC Standard. However, thelebensohlconvention is a good one (on mytop 16 list) and worth learning if you can cope with the memory.

Lebensohl

For high intermediate or advanced players, I suggest some form oflebensohl(as marked on the convention card above). The basic system shown below uses "plainlebensohl." Expert/experienced/scientific players can choose to use "Transferlebensohl."

• Double = takeout/negative (Usenegative doubles"through infinity" -- no penalty doubles)
• 2-level bids = Natural, NF (so far, no change from the simpler approach shown above)
• 2NT and higher =lebensohlorTransfer lebensohl, withFastAlwaysDeniesStopper (click the link to read the details)

Versus Conventional Interference

If the opponents promise two exact suits, bids in any of their promised suits are never natural; so if they bid, say, 2=majors, our responder's bid of 2would just be some good forcing hand--not specifically defined.

The above outline will handle common interference such asDONTor Cappelletti. Use their shown/known suit as the "lebensohl" suit for purposes of stoppers. If the opponents are using a heavilyartificialsystem of overcalls, discuss it at the table in advance or just "wing it." It is near impossible to memorize different defenses to every system.

If the overcall of 1NT is2showing specifically both majors, then use:

• Double = Sets up penalty doubles
• Pass then Double = takeout
• 2= Natural, NF
• 2= GF with
• 2=GFwith
• 2NT =lebensohl(followed by three-of-a-major (3M)=stopper there)
• 3-of-a-minor = Natural, Invitational
• Direct 3M jump = shortness

Of course, this requires tons of practice and memory.

The concept of "mirror doubles" or "stolen bid" might be easier to remember, but it isn't a good idea. It is much more important to have double available as cards/takeout/negative.