L.I.P.S - Low Information Puppet Stayman

April 2, 1999

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Introduction

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There are two problems with most forms of Stayman: (1) they give away too much information to the opponents, and (2) they assume that the 1NT opener has a normal NT distribution, i.e. no five card major, no six card minor, and not a 5-4-2-2 hand. Using simple Stayman, for instance:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Kx S-Axxx 1NT 2C
H-KTxx H-Qxx 2H 3NT
D-Axx D-xx P
C-KQxx C-Axxx

The auction is simple and the contract is correct, but we've unnecessarily informed the opponents that opener has a four card heart suit. Did responder want to know about opener's four hearts? Did opener and responder want to help their opponents defend the eventual 3NT contract by telling them about opener's four hearts? No, of course not, but their system forced opener to give responder information he didn't want and to give their opponents information that they were very much interested in knowing. Perhaps this will have no effect at all on the defense; perhaps it will have a dramatic effect when the opening leader has a natural heart lead but leads diamonds instead; most likely it will have a subtle effect, the defenders will be able to count out declarers hand faster and will make better plays and fewer mistakes toward the end of the hand.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Kx S-Axxx 1NT 2C
H-KJxxx H-Qxx 2H 3NT
D-Axx D-xx P
C-KQx C-Axxx

The auction is the same but the contract is incorrect because responder has no way to find out about opener's five card major.

Both of these criticisms apply to systems involving simple Stayman and Jacoby. Two-Way Stayman and even the form of Puppet Stayman where the initial Stayman response denies a five card major but shows whether or not he has a four carder solve the five card major problem but give away even more information to the opponents. Playing Two-Way Stayman, for instance, some pairs might have this silly auction:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-QJx S-Kxx 1NT 2D
H-Ax H-KJxxx 3C 3H
D-Kxx D-Axx 3NT P
C-AQxxx C-xx

Here the opponents know Opener's exact distribution before play has even started! And all Responder really wanted to know was whether his partner had three hearts.

This type of bidding persists for two reasons: first, because many of the bad results it causes are obscured by the fact that everyone plays more-or-less the same system, and second, because bad results that are actually caused by giving away too much information are chalked up to good defense by the opponents.

The following system is a form of Puppet Stayman that emphasizes not giving away information.


Initial Responses

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Open Resp
1NT ?

Most of this writeup is devoted to auctions beginning 1NT-2C, but since the meaning of those auctions depends on the other options that responder has available, we'll begin by discussing the less frequent auctions first.


2D Response

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The unusual bid in this set of responses is the 2D bid showing both majors. These hands are the weak link in most Puppet Stayman systems. Here are some hands to illustrate the problems:

#1 #2 #3
S-xxxx S-Kxxx S-KJxx
H-xxxx H-KJxx H-KJxx
D-x D-Qxx D-x
C-xxxx C-xx C-Qxxx

Responder#1 wants to get out of 1NT before the doubling starts but if, using ordinary Puppet Stayman, he bids 1NT-2C, 2D-2H opener may well bid 2NT or even 3NT. Responder#2 can bid 1NT-2C, 2D-2H but if opener bids 2NT he may have to pass without finding out whether opener has 4 hearts. Responder#3 has the problem that even if he finds out that opener has no 4 card major he still doesn't know whether 3NT is the right contract.

The 2D response actually turns these deficiencies of normal Puppet Stayman into strengths and eliminates the 4-4 in the majors problem hands from the 2C auctions.

With a few rare exceptions, opener replies to 2D by bidding his best major, hearts with equal majors.

Open Resp
1NT 2D
?

After the normal 2HS bid by opener, responder can describe almost any hand containing both majors.

Open Resp
1NT 2D
2H ?

The auctions where opener bids 2S are almost the same:

Open Resp
1NT 2D
2S ?

The fact that opener will bid hearts with equal majors means that a spade bid shows either a 4 card suit or 3-2 in the majors and, in either case, responder doesn't have to worry about missing a 5-3 heart fit if he has 4-5 in the majors. Here are some hands:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Axx S-Kxxx 1NT 2D
H-Kx H-QJxxx 2S 3NT
D-AQxx D-xx P
C-Kxxx C-Ax

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Kx S-AQxxx 1NT 2D
H-Qxx H-Kxxx 2H 2S
D-AKxx D-xx P
C-Kxxx C-xx

If responder shows a 3 suiter by bidding 3C, opener first shows a real 4-card major if he has it or asks for the short suit by bidding 3D. A 3H response shows short clubs and 3S shows short diamonds. This theme of clubs pointing to hearts and diamonds pointing to spades will be used in several places in this writeup.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-KQx S-Axxx 1NT 2D
H-Qx H-KJxx 2S 3C
D-AQxx D-Kxxx 3D 3H
C-Axxx C-x 4D 4S
6D P

If responder uses the 3D flat hand slam try, opener bids 3NT to deny holding a 4 card major. Any other bid, is a cue bid with the major opener indicated being set as trump.

Open Resp
1NT 2D
2H 3D
?

Examples:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-KQx S-Axxx 1NT 2D
H-Qx H-KJxx 2S 3D
D-AQxx D-KJx 3NT 4NT
C-Axxx C-Kx 6NT P

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Qxxx S-Axxx 1NT 2D
H-KQx H-AJxx 2S 3D
D-Qxx D-KJx 4C 4H
C-AQxx C-Kx 4S P

These auctions easily and conveniently take care of hands with both majors and they mean that when responder uses Stayman, he has at most one 4+ card major.


2NT Response

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An interesting aspect to this system is that one of the most common auctions after a 1NT opener, 1NT-2NT, is rarely used. Although not impossible, it's difficult to even construct a hand where you would want to make a natural, invitational raise without first checking to see if opener had a five card major or some off-shape hand. Consider these candidates:

#1 #2
S-Axx S-Ax
H-xxx H-xx
D-Qxx D-Qxxx
C-Kxxx C-Kxxx

Even with the ruffless Responder-1 hand, a 5-3 spade fit might be preferable to a NT contract, and Responder-2 may as well check to see if his partner opened some hand with 2-2-4-5 or a six card club suit. The point is that there is no charge in terms of information for checking. Many Jacoby variations use 2NT as a conventional bid but they pay an enormous price for that priviledge in terms of having to use ordinary Stayman -- with all the information it gives away -- to make a simple, natural raise. These Puppet Stayman auctions also use a conventional 2NT and 2C followed by 2NT for a natural raise but here, the auction almost always goes 1NT-2C, 2D-2NT, and only a tiny bit of information is given away.

2NT is a minor suit sign-off or a one-suited slam try. This is in combination with 3CD which are minor suit consolidation game tries. After 2NT, opener bids 3C, more-or-less automatically and responder either passes, bids 3D as a sign-off, or shows his one-suiter slam try.

Open Resp
1NT 2NT
3C ?

Examples:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Axxx S-xx 1NT 2NT
H-Axxx H-xxx 3C 3D
D-Kx D-QJxxxx P
C-Axx C-xx
The normal 2NT auction.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Ax S-KQJxxxx 1NT 2NT
H-QJxx H-Kxx 3C 3S
D-AKxx D-Void 4D 4S
C-Jxx C-Qxx P

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Ax S-KQJxxxx 1NT 2NT
H-AQxx H-Kxx 3C 3S
D-Jxxx D-Void 4C 4D
C-AJx C-Qxx 4H 5D
6S P
These hands are difficult to bid using just South African. After 1nt-4D; 4S Responder really has no idea whether to continue.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-xxxx S-Void 1NT 2NT
H-AKxx H-xx 3C 4C
D-AQx D-Kxx 4D 4S
C-Kx C-AQJxxxxx 5H 5S
7C P
Or something like that.


3CD Response

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These "consolidation suit" bids are six card, one-loser suits with little or nothing outside. A fitting honor in opener's hand will produce six playing tricks in 3NT. Without that fitting honor, responder's hand will be useless in 3NT and must be played in three of responder's suit.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-JTxx S-xx 1NT 3C
H-Axxx H-xx 3NT P
D-AKx D-xxx
C-Ax C-KQJxxx
Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AJxx S-xx 1NT 3C
H-Axxx H-xx P
D-AKx D-xxx
C-xx C-KQJxxx

3HS Response

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The 3HS response shows at most 1 card in the suit you bid and at most 2 cards in the other major. If opener is heavily stacked in the majors he bids 3NT, else the partnership goes fishing for minor suit contracts.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AQx S-x 1NT 3S
H-KJxx H-xx 3NT P
D-Axx D-KQxxx
C-Qxx C-KJxxx

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Axx S-x 1NT 3S
H-KJxx H-xx 4D 5D
D-Axxx D-KQxxx P
C-Ax C-KJxxx

How opener should decide whether to bid 3NT or try a minor is not always clear. With double stoppers in the majors 3NT is obvious. With a single stopper consisting of secondary honors (e.g. QJT) it may also be better to bid 3NT since those cards will be worthless in 5CD. Here opener's spade stopper is the ace and he has a minor suit to bid.


2C Response

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Having discussed the other options responder has after a 1NT opener, what sort of hand does he have to bid 2C? First, he's invitational or better. All the sign-off auctions use other sequences: 1NT-2HS for the majors, 1NT-2NT for the minors, 1NT-2D for both majors, and for both minors...well, ok, so there's no signoff bid showing both minors. Second, because of the 1NT-2D auctions, he has at most one 4+ cd major and he won't show it unless responder specifically asks about it. Third, he doesn't have either a very strong one-suiter or a consoldidation suit one suiter since other auctions handle those hands. So his most usual hand is relatively flat with a 3 to 5 card major that's a good candidate for the final contract. He may also turn up with a hand containing 3-1, 4-1 or 5-1 in the majors where he's worried about playing 3NT -- this extends the idea presented in the 1NT-3HS auctions. Auctions other than these are slam going.

Here are the initial Stayman responses:

Open Resp
1NT 2C
?

Notice that the 2D response says nothing about opener's 4 card majors. It doesn't say that he has one and it doesn't say that he doesn't have one.

Responder continues:

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D ?

Notice that 2C doesn't show a 4 card major. It can be a check for 5 card majors, the beginning of a minor suit slam investigation, a check on major suit stoppers, or a 5+ card major, notice that there are no immediate bids to show them. Here are some possible 2C bids:

#1 #2 #3 #4
S-Axx S-Ax S-x S-AQxxx
H-xx H-Kx H-KJx H-xx
D-AQxx D-Axxxx D-Qxxxx D-Axx
C-Qxxx C-Kxxx C-Axxx C-xxx

Responder#1 is looking for a 5-3 spade fit, if opener responds 2D he will bid 3NT. Responder#2 is interested in minor suit slams, if opener bids 2D he will bid 3D (Both Minors). Responder#3 is interested in a 5-3 heart suit fit but he is also worried about the spade suit for 3NT, if opener bids 2D he will bid 3S. Responder#4 wants to determine opener's spade length, he will bid 2H after opener's expected 2D.

When responder asks about a major, opener shows his support for it and whether he is minimum or maximum by step responses:

The first two steps must show minimum hands with less than 4 card support since we might want to pass the hand out at 2NT. The hands with 4 card support are shown at the highest level since we know we will play in the major. Raise-to-3 (of the real suit) and the other major are used instead of steps to make sure that the NTer plays the hands.

Examples. Here are opener's continuations after responder asks about spades.

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D 2H
?

When responder asks about hearts the first two steps are compressed into one in order to stay below the 2NT level.

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D 2S
?

How the auction continues depends on whether opener showed a minimum or maximum and whether he showed 4 card support for responder's suit. First, 4-card support for responder's suit sets the suit. Any further new suit bids are cue bids looking for slam. Second, if opener shows a maximum the partnership is forced to game. Responder's 2C was invitational, so the equation is Invitational + Maximum = Game.

Three special auctions exist:

  1. Responder's can show a singleton or void in the other major.
  2. When opener shows a maximum with 4 card support (3 of the other major), responder can choose who becomes declarer.
  3. The auction 1NT-2C, 2D-2S, 2NT is unclear as to whether opener has 2 or 3 card support, responder can clarify that situation.

What can these auctions mean?

Open Resp Open Resp
1NT 2C 1NT 2C
2D 2H 2D 2S
2S,2NT,3CD 3H 2NT,3CD 3S

Responder first asked about one major and then bid the other. It can't be a cue bid since opener denied 4 card support, and it can't be a suit since responder would have bid 2D with 4-4 in the majors. This bid shows shortness, i.e. 4+ cards in the indicated major and 1- in the other.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Jxx S-x 1NT 2C
H-Kxx H-AQxx 2D 2S
D-AQxx D-Kxxx 2NT 3S
C-KQx C-Jxxx 4D 5D
P

Notice that we can now show 2-1, 3-1, or 4-1 in the majors. 2-1 is shown by the direct 3HS bid in the short suit, 3-1 is shown by first asking for a 5-cd major and then jumping to 3HS in the short suit, and 4-1 is shown by auctions like the above.

After opener shows 4-cd support for responder, what should a 3NT bid mean? If opener has shown a minimum hand by raising responder's real suit it's natural and gives opener a choice of games, but if opener shows a maximum raise by bidding the other major there is a more important use for the bid, making opener the declarer.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Qxx S-Axx 1NT 2C
H-AQxx H-Kxxx 2D 2S
D-AQx D-Kxxx 3S 3NT
C-Kxxx C-xx 4H P

After a maximum raise responder uses 3NT to transfer opener back to 4 of the agreed suit. The result of this is that Opener can become declarer on all 4-4 major suit fits, and, if opener shows a maximum with 4-cd support, responder also has the option to decide to make himself declarer.

Following is the worst sequence in this system:

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D 2S
2NT ?

Opener has shown 2 or 3 hearts with a minimum hand, if opener has 5 hearts and an invitational hand he won't know whether to pass or bid 3H. That's the one insoluable problem in the system, but if responder has a game forcing hand he can continue with an artificial 3D to create a game force and ask for opener's exact length.

If responder bids 3D in this auction, opener will respond 3H = 2 and 3S = 3. If opener shows 3 hearts the suit is assumed to be "set" in hearts and any new suits should be taken as cue bids. If he shows 2 hearts, the suit is not set and new suits are natural. In the auctions where responder has spades, opener's length is already known and the 3D bid becomes a game forcing, slam invitational spade raise. i.e.

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D 2H
2S,2NT 3D

...is a game forcing, slam invitational spade raise. Opener should cue bid.

If opener shows 4 cards in responder's suit the auctions are straightforward, new suits are slam-going cue bids and 4NT is RKCB. But after the reponses that show 2 or 3 cards there are more options and things are less clear. Following are two tables showing what responder's bids mean after opener's 2 or 3 card responses. First after responder asked about spades with a 2H bid.

After 2S,2NT After 3CD
2NT To play -
3C Puppet for minors -
3D Sets the suit in spades Natural. GF
3H Singleton Heart Singleton Heart
3S To play Set suit slam try
4CD ??? ???
Games To play To play

Next after a 2S bid asking about hearts.

After 2NT After 3CD
3C Puppet for minors -
3D GF. Asks numberof hearts Natural. GF
3H To play Set suit slam try
3S Singleton spade Singleton spade
4CD ??? ???
Games To play To play

Here are some sample hands.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Kxxx S-Axxx 1NT 2C
H-Kxx H-Qxx 2D 2H
D-AJxx D-xxx 3S P
C-Ax C-Kxx
Opener shows a minimum with 4 card support and responder signs off.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Kxxx S-Ax 1NT 2C
H-AQx H-Kxxx 2D 2S
D-KJxx D-Axxx 3D 4D
C-Kx C-Axx 4H 4S
6D P
Opener shows a maximum with 3 card support for hearts. Responder then shows his diamond suit.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Axx S-x 1NT 2C
H-AQx H-Kxxx 2D 2S
D-QJx D-Axxxx 3D 3S
C-Kxxx C-QJx 4C 4D
5D P
Opener shows a maximum with 3 card heart support and responder shows his singleton spade. Opener decides that one spade stopper isn't sufficient so he starts looking for other contracts.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AJx S-xxx 1NT 2C
H-Kxx H-AQxxx 2D 2S
D-xx D-Axx 2NT 3D
C-AKxxx C-xx 3S 4H
P

Opener shows 2 or 3 card support and a minimum so responder asks with 3D and learns that he has 3.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-xxx S-KQTxx 1NT 2C
H-KQx H-x 2D 2H
D-Kxx D-AQx 2NT 3D
C-AKxx D-xxxx 4CT 4D
4H 4S
P
Responder uses 3D to make a game forcing spade raise. Opener doesn't have to show his count, that's already known, so he immediately cue bids.


Minor Suit Puppet Stayman

Back to 2C Auctions

Auctions where responder uses 2C, opener denies a 5 card major, and responder later follows with 3C are Minor Suit Puppet Stayman. These auctions:

Open Resp Open Resp Open Resp
1NT 2C 1NT 2C 1NT 2C
2D 3C 2D 2H 2D 2S
2S,2NT 3C 2NT 3C

Minor suit puppet stayman works in almost exactly the same way as the major suit version, the initial ask is for 5 card minors.

As with major suit Puppet Stayman, responder may continue by asking for length in a specific minor. He does this by using hearts to ask about clubs and spades to ask about diamonds.

Open Resp Open Resp
1NT 2C 1NT 2C
2D 3C 2D 2HS
3D ? 2S,2NT 3C
3D ?

The responses to the length asks start with 2 and go up. There are no complications as exist with 2NT in the major suit puppet. Examples

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Qx S-AKxx 1NT 2C
H-Kxx H-Ax 2D 2H
D-Kxx D-Axxx 2S 3C
C-AKxxx C-Qxx 3H 4C
4NT 5D
5H 5S
7C P
Responder confirms clubs with his 4C bid and opener signs off in 4NT. When responder makes further slam tries, opener is happy to go along.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Ax S-Kxx 1NT 2C
H-AKxx H-xxx 2D 3C
D-Kxxx D-Ax 3D 3H
C-Qxx C-AKxxx 3NT 4C
4H 4NT
6C P
Responder confirms clubs and later indicates only a mild slam try by signing off in 4NT. Opener, with excellent cards, continues.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Ax S-Kxxx 1NT 2C
H-Kxxx H-Ax 2D 2H
D-Kxxx D-AQxx 2S 3C
C-AJx C-Qxx 3D 3S
4D 4H
4S 6D
P
A lot happened in this auction! Responder checked for a 4-4 spade fit, a 5-3 or 5-4 minor suit fit, and finally discovered a 4-4 diamond fit. They then cue bid to slam with the known doubleton spade in operner's hand being a key factor.


Both Minors

Back to 2C Auctions

The 3D bid after 1NT-2C; 2D shows both minors in much the same way as a 1NT-2D shows both majors. If responder first asks about a major, 3D has other uses but isn't needed to show both minors anyway since with a major plus both minors, e.g. Axxx x QJxx Kxxx, responder would ask about spades and then bid 3H to show 4-1 in the majors. Showing both minors is also slightly different than 1NT-2D in that weak hands are not a possibility. All of these auctions are game forcing and show some slam interest

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2D 3D
?

Again the trick of using heart and spade bids to point to clubs and diamonds is used. There is no need for opener to show less than a 4-cd minor as there is in the "both majors" auctions because we are forced to game.

Examples:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Qxx S-Ax 1NT 2C
H-AQxx H-Kx 2D 3D
D-AQx D-Kxxx 3NT 4C
C-Kxx C-AQJxx 4D 4S
5H 5NT
7C P

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-KQxx S-Ax 1NT 2C
H-Axxx H-Kxx 2D 3D
D-Ax D-KQxx 3NT 4NT
C-Qxx C-KJxx P
With no fits, responder goes conservative with 4NT and opener passes.


Opener's Five Card Major

2C Auctions

The 2D response to 2C is the most usual by a wide margin, but sometimes opener does turn up with a 5-card major, a 6-card minor, or 5-4 in the minors.

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2HS ?

After a 2HS bid, opener is known to have 5332 distribution. Since many of the auctions that would be used after a 2D response are directed toward finding 4-4 fits, they no longer apply. These responses use transfers at the 3-level, including into opener's 5 card major, to look for 5-3 fits and to make invitational or slam try raises of opener's suit.

Open Resp Open Resp
1NT 2C 1NT 2C
2H 3D 2S 3H
? ?

If responder transfers to opener's suit he may just be making an invitational raise, and opener must bid the full value of his hand. If he simply accepts the transfer he may be passed in three of the major. With a maximum he should bypass 3 of his suit and cue bid.

If opener's suit is spades and responder transfers to hearts, there is still the possibility of playing in 3H and opener should not accept the transfer with 3 card support or a maximum.

Open Resp
1NT 2C
2S 3D
?

Finally, if responder transfers to clubs, opener should bid 3NT with a doubleton and only accept with 3-card support. Transfers to diamonds or to spades when opener's suit is hearts are forcing and should always be accepted.

Examples:

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AQxxx S-Kxx 1NT 2C
H-Kx H-QJxx 2S 3H
D-KQx D-xx 3NT 4S
C-QJx C-Kxxx P

If opener had bid 3S over responder's 3H that would have become the final contract.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AQxxx S-Kx 1NT 2C
H-xx H-QJxxxx 2S 3D
D-KQx D-xx 3H P
C-Axx C-Qxx

Responder knows opener has a minimum with 2 card support.


Opener's 2254 or 2245 Hands

Back to 2C Auctions

Opener has three ways to show a minor 5-4 hand after responder's 2C. The direct 2NT bid shows a minimum with either 5-4 or 4-5 in the minors and 3HS shows a maximum and indicates which is the long minor.

Open Resp Open Resp Open Resp
1NT 2C 1NT 2C 1NT 2C
2NT 3H 3S

Responder must then take over and place the final contract, the only forcing bids be has below game -- whether over 2NT or 3HS -- are 4CD which set the suit and are slam tries.

If opener shows a 6-card minor the auctions are natural and forcing, including a raise to 4 of opener's suit.

Competition

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After a 2C response the key factor is that the auction is invitational or better. This means that a forcing pass situation exists and the main idea in the auctions is to try to punish the opponents first and bid constructively later. If the interference was a double we try to play 2C redoubled.

Open LHO Resp RHO
1NT P 2C DBL
?

If the interference was an overcall we try to double for penalties.

Open LHO Resp RHO
1NT P 2C 2DHS,3CDH
?

If the auction gets back to responder and he decides to continue the constructive auction how should he proceed? The rule is simple: if the auction is below the 2H level we ignore the interference. At higher levels all bids by responder are natural and forcing and there are no conventional responses. A cue bid by responder asks for a stopper.

Examples:

Opener Responder Open LHO Resp RHO
S-Kx S-AQxx 1NT P 2C DBL
H-KQxx H-xxx RD
D-Axx D-Kxxx
C-KJxx C-xx
The opponent is punished for his lead directing double.

Opener Responder Open LHO Resp RHO
S-Kx S-Axx 1NT P 2C DBL
H-Axxx H-KQxx P P 2S P
D-KQxx D-Jxxx 3H P 4H P
C-Kxx C-xx P P
Since the auction is below 2H we proceed with the ordinary auctions.

Opener Responder Open LHO Resp RHO
S-Kxx S-QJxx 1NT P 2C 3D
H-KQxx H-Axx P P 3S P
D-Ax D-xx 4D P 4S P
C-Axxx C-Kxxx P P
Since the auction is above the 2H level the bids are natural. Responder might have a 5 card suit for this auction.

If the opponents interfere with the 1NT-2D auctions, opener bids a major only with a 4+ card suit and otherwise passes or redoubles. Don't forget that responder can have a very bad hand for his 2D bid, if he pulls a redouble to 2H he may have a 4-4 yarbourough.

Opener Responder Open LHO Resp RHO
S-KQx S-xxxx 1NT P 2D DBL
H-Ax H-xxxx RD P 2H P
D-AJxx D-x 2S
C-Qxx C-xxxx


2NT Opener

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After a 2NT opening or any auction that begins 2C-Artificial Bid, 2NT, the initial bids are the same except for the fact that the three-of-a-suit bids are missing.

Open Resp Open Resp
2NT ? 2C Artificial Bid
2NT ?

As you can see, the 1NT-3HS bids showing a singleton are gone, the 1NT-3CD bids showing consolidation suits are gone, and the 2NT relay to 3C for signoffs is gone.

2NT-3D works exactly like 1NT-2D with the exception of one auction defined as invitational over 1NT that is game forcing over 2NT,

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-AQx S-Kxxxx 2NT 3D
H-Kxx H-QJxx 3H 3S
D-AKxx D-xx 4S P
C-Axx C-xx

The 3S bid is forcing, not invitational.

After the "bread and butter" auction of 2NT-3C, 3D-3HS there is a big difference in the responses, opener only goes beyond 3NT with 4 card support and then he bids as though responding to a Roman Key Card Blackwood request. Here are the responses after a 3H bid.

Open Resp Open Resp
2NT 3C 2C 2D
3D 3H 2NT 3C
? 3D 3H
?

After a 3S spade bid by responder there are two differences: 3NT includes both 2 and 3 card support, and the RKCB bids stop at 4H

Open Resp Open Resp
2NT 3C 2C 2D
3D 3S 2NT 3C
? 3D 3S
P

Examples.

Opener Responder Open Resp
S-Axxx S-QJxx 2C 2D
H-KQx H-Jxx 2NT 3C
D-AJx D-KQx 3D 3H
C-AKQx C-xxx 4C 4S
P

Opener shows 4 card support with 0 or 3 controls and responder signs off.