Passion of The Game of Bridge

5 Card Major (Heart/Spade) in 1NT Opening (Weak or Strong)?

One of the top question during establishing a bidding system is whether or not to open 1NT with 5 cards Major (Heart or Spade) 5-3-3-2. So, why or why not we should include 5 card major – balance into 1NT Opening. What’s the pluses and minuses… ? Let’s get started

Opening Bid: Standard 5 Cards Major, Strong 1 NT

Standard 5 card Major with Strong 1NT system is not only one of the popular one, but also one of those systems that adopt the natural and common sense approach. (Mostly just bid based on your hand, not based on the memory/convention: have long suit of heart, then bid heart)

Here is the essential summary of this system:

  • 1NT bid is strong 16-18 HCP (High Card Point) balance without 5 cards Major. Possible distribution will be: 5-3-3-2 (only 5 cards minor allowed), super balance 4-3-3-3,  and  4-4-3-2
  • All other level 1 bids are 12-21 points. 1M is 5 cards Majors (/), 1D at least 2 cards and 1C has at least 3 cards . The point range is broken down into 14-15 pts, 16-18pts and 19-21pts by rebid
  • 2M is weak 6+ cards (/), 6-11 pts
  • 2 is the powerhouse 22+pts  with non balance distribution, while the balance 22+ HCP is bid through 2NT
  • All level 3 suit bids are preemptive with 6-11 pts with 1 long suit (6+cards).
  • 3NT is one running suit (at least 5 HCP) with possible entry on other suit(e.g: Kx , Qxx)
  • All level 4 and 5 suit bids are preemptive still with 6-11 pts with longer suit (8+cards).
  • 4NT is Blackwood Convention asking for Aces
  • 5NT is modified Blackwood Convention asking for Kings
  • No opening bid for level-6 and level-7 except “to play”
  • 5 bids (1D, 2C, 2D, 4NT and 5NT) need the artificial bidding’s  ALERT on competition

List of Opening Bid of Standard 5 card major system with Strong 1NT

No. Bid Forcing Description
1 1♣ NF 3+cardssuit, 12 – 21 Pts
2 1♦ NF [ALERT]!-2+cards suit, 12 – 21 Pts
3 1♥ NF 5+cards suit, 12 – 21 Pts
4 1♠ NF 5+cards suit, 12 – 21 Pts
5 1NT NF 16-18 HCP, Balanced, no 5 cards Major (Minor ok)
no singleton, max 1 doubleton
6 2♣ F [ALERT]!22+ Pts  any non-balance distribution
7 2♦ F [ALERT]!17 – 21+ Pts three suiter (4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 any suits)
8 2♥ NF Weak 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
9 2♠ NF Weak 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
10 2NT NF 22+ HCP  any non-balance distribution
11 3♣ NF Preemptive, 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
12 3♦ NF Preemptive, 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
13 3♥ NF Preemptive, 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
14 3♠ NF Preemptive, 6-11 Pts, 6+ cards suit
15 3NT NF To play. Single running minor suit / (min 5+ HCP: AKxxxxxx+/ KQTxxxx+/AQJxxxx+/AJTxxxx+,etc) 7+ cards with at least 1 possible entry
16 4♣ NF To play. 6-11 Pts, 8+ cards suit
17 4♦ NF To play. 6-11 Pts, 8+ cards suit
18 4♥ NF To play. 6-11 Pts, 8+ cards suit
19 4♠ NF To play. 6-11 Pts, 8+ cards suit
20 4NT F [ALERT!] Possible Small Slam/Grand Slam. 10-11 tricks in hand. Blackwood Convention (Ace Asking)
21 5♣ NF To play. Single suite – 9-10 trick/preemptive
22 5♦ NF To play. Single suite – 9-10 trick/ preemptive
23 5♥ NF To play. Single suite – 9-10 trick/preemptive
24 5♠ NF To play. Single suite – 9-10 trick/preemptive
25 5NT F [ALERT]! Grand Slam force. (Small slam/12 tricks in hand)
Blackwood Convention (King Asking)
26 6♣
27 6♦
28 6♥
29 6♠
30 6NT
31 7♣
32 7♦
33 7♥
34 7♠
35 7NT

The subsequent bidding need to be discussed with your partner to provide  better understanding between partners.