ACBL04B – Notrump: Stayman 8 HCP Exceptions     Ward Trumbull

                                                                                               Oct 28, 2008

                                                                                               Page 1 of 3


      When you were taught how to use the Stayman convention when your

partner opened one notrump, you were bombarded with the rule:


            “You need 8 HCP to invoke Stayman.”


If you have become proficient in using Stayman, then you’re old enough to

know that the rule really is:  


             “You need 8 HCP to invoke Stayman, except……”


Why 8 HCP?


      If you play no conventions over notrump, with a balanced hand you



                2 NT - with 8-9 HCP         or        3 NT – with 10+ HCP


      Likewise, if you are using Stayman and don’t find a major fit with the

      notrump bidder, you MUST have at least enough HCP to respond 2

      notrump at your next bid, i.e., 8 HCP.


8 HCP Exceptions (0-7 HCP Hands)


      There are several type distributional hands that the responder might

      have which don’t have 8 HCP but still warrant invoking Stayman.  That

      is because responder knows that:


              If there is no major suit fit, the responder can still close out the  

              bidding by transferring to 2 spades or 3 of a minor and then



      The key point is that the responder is in total control of the hand. The

      notrump bidder only follows the instructions of the responder.



          ACBL04B – Notrump: Stayman 8 HCP Exceptions       Oct 28, 2008

                                                                                                Page 2 of 3

8 HCP Exceptions (continued)


      You need no points to invoke Stayman (via 2 clubs) with any of the

      following exceptional type hands.  That’s NONE or ZERO HCP !!!!!


The 4-4-4-1 Exception (0-7 HCP)


      There are actually two hands covered by this name.


                                          Hand 1         Hand 2

                                          ----------         ----------

                   Spades           x x x x           x x x x

                   Hearts             x x x x           x x x x  

                   Diamonds       x x x x           x x x x x

                   Clubs              x


      With this type hand you gamble a little.  After you invoke Stayman, your

      partner will respond either 2 diamonds, 2 hearts or 2 spades.

      Whichever bid is made, you pass.  In the latter two cases

      (hearts/spades), partner will play in an 8 card major.  In the first case

      (2 diamonds) he/she may play with fewer diamonds between both

      hands.  With hand 1 above, it might be 4 opposite 3, or with hand 2 it

      could be 5 opposite 2 trump cards.


      In the worst case scenario, if the notrump bidder has only 2 diamonds

      and the responder has only 4 diamonds (hand 1), he/she will play in a

      2 diamond contract with 4 opposite 2 diamonds.  But what the hell, you

      don’t have to play the hand.


The 4 Hearts and 5 Spades Exception (0-7 HCP)


      Again with this hand you invoke Stayman.  If partner responds either

      2 hearts or 2 spades, you pass.  Partner will play in either an 8 card

      heart suit or a nine card spade suit.  If he/she responds 2 diamonds:


  1. You bid 2 hearts to transfer to spades.

             2.  Partner bids two spades and you pass.

           ACBL04B – Notrump: Stayman 8 HCP Exceptions        Oct 28, 2008

                                                                                                  Page 3 of 3


The 5 Hearts and 5 Spades Exception (0-4 HCP)


      You bid this hand the same as explained above using the Stayman-

      Transfer technique for the 4/5 hand.  However, you would do that only  

      if the hand has less than 5 HCP.  Because with 5+ HCP you should

      instead bid 3 diamonds to invoke the Major 5/5 Transfer convention.


What About a 5 Hearts and 4 Spades Hand? (0-7 HCP)


      When you hold 5 hearts, 4 spades and less than 8 HCP, the

      Stayman-Transfer technique cannot be used because a 2 diamond

      response to Stayman by the notrump bidder kills the chance for a

      heart transfer at the 2 level.


      Example of why Stayman/Transfer won’t work.


                 spades      K 9 7 5

                 hearts        8 6 4 3 2

                 diams        10 2

                 clubs          8 4


      You respond 2 clubs and partner gives his/her reply:  


                2 diams – now to transfer to hearts you would have to bid 3

                                diamonds and that is too high for your point count

                                and heart length (5).


                2 hearts – this bid you could pass


                2 spades – this bid you could pass too



      Instead, just bid 2 diamonds to transfer partner to 2 hearts and

      then pass.