By Kitty and Steve Cooper

When Partner Opens 1NT Add the Points Up

It takes two balanced hands at least 33 points to make a small slam and 37 to make a grand slam. When partner opens 1NT and you have a good balanced hand of your own, add your points to partner’s minimum and maximum to see what the possibilities are. The following table shows your bids opposite a 15-17 1NT opening. If you play 16-18 subtract a point from each number below.





Asks partner to proceed towards slam with a maximum



Asks partner to bid at the seven level with a maximum, else bid only six*



This is what we can make, you may not raise



We expect to make this


* Advanced players use 5N as forcing Baron (bid 4+ card suits up the line) and use Gerber followed by 5NT to invite a grand slam.

Anytime partner invites a small or grand slam and you want to accept, you offer to play in a suit contract by bidding your lowest ranking four card suit at the next level. So bidding 5C over 4NT accepts the slam try and offers to play with clubs as trump. Most players bid four card suits up the line and jump with a longer suit. If a six card minor is allowed in your 1NT opening then jump to six with that hand and bid and rebid a five card suit. So for example, 1NT - 4NT - 5C -5D - 6C would show five clubs and offer to play there. A jump to six of a major shows a five card suit. The eight card or longer fit is usually the safest place to play unless you have extra high card points.

The Gerber Convention

You cannot use Blackwood in notrump auctions because 4NT is a quantitative slam try. The bid that is used to ask for aces is a jump to 4C, the Gerber convention. You do not alert it; no ace asking bids above 3NT are alertable.


You should also play that a jump to 4C is Gerber when bid immediately after Stayman or after a Jacoby transfer. This is particularly useful when your side has the requisite 33 or 37 points, but you have counted distribution heavily, so that you could easily be missing an ace or two.

Responses to 4C Gerber:


zero or four aces


one ace


two aces


three aces

After 4C Gerber, 5C asks how many kings and the steps are the same but one level higher.

If you play Roman Keycard Blackwood then it is advisable to make these steps the same as your keycard steps to eliminate confusion. The major is the trump suit for keycard purposes after a major suit response to Stayman or a transfer to a major.

Using Stayman with a Slam Try

When you have a four card major and a strong balanced hand, use Stayman before jumping in notrump. A 4-4 fit will often make an extra trick for a better score. If partner bids your major, you can jump to five of the major to say "bid six with a maximum,” otherwise you can make the same bids in NT that were available immediately over 1NT. 4NT is not Blackwood when partner opens in NT except over Texas transfers, if you play them. Use Gerber to ask for aces. Also, 5NT is not the grand slam force in notrump auctions except over Texas. 5NT is used to ask partner to pick a slam after Stayman or a Jacoby transfer.

1NT - 2C - 2D - 4NT

Asks partner to continue towards slam with a maximum by bidding five of his lowest four card minor or pass with a minimum.

1NT - 2C - 2H - 4NT

Asks partner to continue towards slam with a maximum or pass with a minimum. Since 4NT shows four spades opener can bid 6S or bid five of his lowest four card minor with a maximum

1NT - 2C - 2H - 5H

Asks partner to bid 6H with a maximum

1NT - 2C - 2H - 5NT

Asks partner to bid 6S, six of a four card minor, or 6NT (4NT shows four spades)

To invite a grand slam responder asks for aces first with Gerber or Super Gerber.

Using Jacoby Transfers with a Slam Try

A transfer followed by a bid in notrump is similar to bidding notrump directly over 1NT, except that 5NT after a transfer asks partner to choose which slam to play. To look for a grand after the transfer, responder asks for aces with Gerber, then bids 5C asking for kings, and finally bids 5N to ask partner to bid the grand with a maximum when all the aces and kings are held.

1NT - 2D - 2H - 4N

Asks partner to bid 6H or 6NT if maximum, else pass or bid 5H to play

1NT - 2H - 2S - 5S

Asks partner to bid 6S if maximum, else pass

1NT - 2H - 2S - 5N

Asks partner to choose between 6S and 6NT

Use the Same Conventions over Bigger NT Openers

When partner opens 2NT, again add your points to his minimum and maximum and if you are in the slam zone you can use 4NT quantitative to invite a slam. 3C is still Stayman and a jump to 4C is still Gerber. So all the charts for the meaning of bids after 1NT apply but with different ranges. The exception is that after using Stayman or transferring, 4C is no longer a jump, so it cannot be Gerber. Many players use a jump to 5C to ask for aces; this is called Super Gerber.

A problem occurs when partner opens 3NT, since 4C has to be Stayman, there is no ace asking bid unless you choose to play Super Gerber convention and use a jump to 5C, after which 6C asks for kings.

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