The following is a direct excerpt from the publication by Mr. Easley Blackwood from his publication Blackwood On Bidding, in association with Mr. Stanley Mc Comas, published 1956 by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, and New York, New York, United States, Chapter 17, pages 123 - 127, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 56-13044.


Note: The following is excerpted.


The Improved Stayman Convention

The 2 Clubs Response

This improved version of the Stayman convention is recommended.
A 2 response to an opening bid of 1 NT is artificial. It may or may not show a club suit. It asks the opening bidder to make his response according to the following schedule:
  If the opening no trump bidder has a biddable spade suit, he must bid 2 Spades. A biddable suit is 4 to the Jack or better.
  Even should the opening bidder have a biddable heart suit in addition to a biddable Spade suit, he still responds 2 Spades, bidding the higher-ranking suit.
  If the opening no trump bidder has a biddable Heart suit but does not have a biddable spade suit, he bids 2 Hearts.
  Lacking either a biddable Spade or Heart suit, the opening bidder must bid 2.
  The opening no trump bidder has only three possible bids when his partner responds with 2. They are: 2, 2 or 2.

Further Action By The Responder

When you have used the Stayman Convention as responder to your partner's opening bid of 1 NT, your second bid must show the strength of your hand. You either raise your partner's suit, you bid no trump or, in some instances, you can bid a 5-card suit of your own:

If you hold:

KQ74   86   A964   875

you would respond 2 to your partner's opening 1 NT. If your partner has a biddable Spade suit, the hand will probably play one trick better at Spades than it will at no trump.

If your partner's rebid is 2, you will raise him to 3. You know that he has 5 tricks for a Spade bid, or possibly more. You can offer 4 tricks for a Spade bid. You raise to 3, telling him to stop bidding if his hand is only 5 tricks. Your partner should pass if he has only 15 or 16 points. If he has a shaded 6-trick hand or better at Spades, he will carry on to 4.

If your partner's response is 2. you must bid 2 NT. You cannot bid 2 because you know that your partner does not have a 4-card Spade suit. A rebid of 2 by you would show a 5-card Spade suit. You bid 2 NT, a bid you were willing to make after your partner's opening bid of 1 NT. Unless he has a shaded 6 tricks - 17 points or more, counting all his rebid values - he will pass and play at 2 NT. If he does have a shade 6 tricks, he will carry on to 3 NT.

If your partner's rebid is 2, you will bid 2 NT, telling him to pass unless he has a shaded 6 tricks, or to bid 3 NT if he has 17 points or more.

You would also bid 2 over your partner's opening bid of 1 NT with:

KQ74   86   A975   KJ6

If your partner's rebid is 2, you must jump to 4.

If your partner's rebid is 2 or 2, you must jump to 3 NT.

When The Responder Has A Major Suit Hand Of 4 Tricks

When you as responder have less than 4 tricks but have from 6 to 11 points in a major suit, you may make a weakness takeout in your major suit. If you have a shade 5 tricks (14 point or more), you will make a jump bid in your major suit. With a hand of just 4 tricks, or 4 plus tricks, you will always use the Stayman convention.

Most of these major suit hands of 12 or 13 points will have sufficient values in high cards to justify a bid of 2 NT, but you will use the Stayman Convention instead to see whether the hand should be played in no trump or in the major suit. Occasionally, you will have a hand in which the value are largely distributional. With such a hand you are going to insist on playing in a major suit, but you might as well tell your partner that you do have 4 or 4 plus tricks for this suit by using the Stayman Convention.

When your partner opens 1 NT you might have:

A97642   75   Q86   94
8   1   2   1-12

You can count 2 promotion points in the trump suit, which makes this a 4-trick hand. You bid 2. If your partner's response is 2, you will know that there are actually 4 promotion points in the trump suit available. This brings your hand up to a shaded 5 tricks. As a suit bid in response to a no trump bid is an independent bid, you can jump straight to 4.

If your partner's response is 2 or 2, you must bid 2. Your partner will now know that you have 5 or more Spades, and that your hand comes to exactly 12 or 13 points for Spades.

Unless in rebid values your partner has a shaded 6 tricks, he will pass. If he holds:

K85   A9   AJ105   A862

he can figure his hand for a spade raise and jump to 4.

Should he have:

K7   A92   A743   KQ76

he will pass.

Getting The Full Count

When the responder has a shaded 6 tricks or better, he may be in the slam zone as the opener in rebid values may himself have 6 tricks. The responder can ask the opening bidder to give him the exact count of his hand by repeating the club bid. The responder first bids 2, and whatever the opener rebids, the responder then bids 3. The no trump bidder must then tell the exact count of his hand, counting all rebid values, according to the following schedule:

With 15 points, he rebids 3. He does not count an extra half point, and would rebid 3 D with either 15 or 15.5 points.
With 16 points, he rebids 3.
With 17 points, he rebids 3.
Of course the opener could have 18 or 19 points for his rebid values. If so, he continues up one notch for each point.
With 18 points, he rebids 3 NT.
On those unusual hands where he has 19 points in rebid values he would rebid 4.
The responder now knows the exact limit of the hand, and can bid accordingly.


Example 1
Partner   Responder
1 NT   2
2   3
3   4 NT
5   6 NT
Example 2
Partner   Responder
1 NT   2
2   3
3 NT   4 NT
5   6 NT

With Example 1, when you hear your partner open with 1 NT, you find that you have better than 6 tricks. You have 16 points in high cards, plus 1 point for length, plus 1 promotional point, plus an additional ten spot which adds an additional half point.. By use of the improved Stayman Convention you find that your partner has exactly 17 points. When your combined hands come to 35 points or better, you are so near the 12-trick zone that it is profitable to go ahead and bid the slam.

In Example 2, you have a bare shaded 6 tricks with only 17 points. By use of the improved Stayman Convention, you find that your partner in rebid values has a full 6 tricks. You bid 4 NT to check on aces, and when you find that you have all of them you bid 6 NT. Note that the two tens in your partner's hand which he showed in his rebid values make the difference between a good slam bid and a bad slam bid. They add to your hand the chances that the jack of hearts will fall doubleton, and the chance that you can trap the jack of spades 4 long in one of the opposing hands - plus the fact that if the opening lead is in either spades or hearts this automatically gives you an additional trick.

Higher Opening Bids In NT

The improved Stayman Convention should be used after an opening bid of 2 NT. A response of 3 asks the opening bidder to describe his distribution precisely as a 2 response would after an opening bid of 1 NT, except that the bidding is one level higher.

If the responder first bids 3 and then bids 4, he is asking the opening bidder to describe his precise strength in rebid values. The opening bidder will now bid 4 with a minimum of only 21 points, 4 with 22 points, etc.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.