Extended Inverted Minor Raises

Gordon Bower

Systemic context

Michael and I play MAFIA style responses; that is, if partner opens 1C or 1D, we respond with our 4-card major even if we have a longer minor, regardless of our hand strength. This leads to an interesting phenomenon: not only do 1C-2C and 1D-2D deny interest in a major-suit contract, 1D-2C does also. In our system, all three of these sequences are treated the same way: responder shows a 10+ point hand, and subsequent bidding is aimed determining the playability of 3NT. (When I play Polish Club variants, 1C-1D is artificial and 1C-2D can also be treated the very same way.)

Our inverted-minor agreements are impacted by two other tendencies of our system that might be unfamiliar to 2/1 players: One, we open most 11-counts in first seat (as a result, we rarely go below 11 in thir seat either, and we don't need Drury -- if a hand would be a 3-card limit raise opposite a 3rd seat opener, we open it in 1st.) Two, we play 1C-2NT and 1D-2NT as natural and forcing, promising stoppers in all 3 unbid suits, not necessarily denying a 4-card major. The 2NT bid shows either a (good 13) 14-15 point hand, or an 18+ monster; with a flat 16-17 and no 4CM, we jump to 3NT. I actually regard the popular "11-12, no 4CM" 2NT reply as almost unplayable; responder rarely has all the stoppers he needs, and opener has no room to explore without committing the partnership to game.

In this context, Inverted Minor sequences handle all of responder's balanced 11 to bad 13s, as well as responder's stronger balanced hands that are missing a stopper, and responder's strong raises of the minor.

The 1m-3m jumps are typically 4-7ish, occasionally weaker. With most of our 8 HCP hands with support for opener's minor, we risk a 1NT response, and retreat to our minor if the opponents double or overcall. (Yeah, matchpoint addicts. I know.) You could put the 8-10 range into a Criss-Cross style 1D-3C bid, if you preferred.

Golden rules of inverted minor auctions

These few principles sum up our rules for our continuations:

When the auction starts 1m-1M-1NT, our version of Checkback Stayman explicitly asks opener if he is minimum or maximum since 1NT is wide-ranging (lots of 11s other people didn't open, on up to a good 14.) After 1C-2C, the same thing happens -- opener can have anywhere from 11 upwards -- and we need to handle the auction carefully to judge whether to continue on to 3NT or not. Here is opener's "notrump rebid ladder":

Modifications after 1D-2C

The only wrinkle here with the "inverted minor non-raise" is that we no longer have 1D-2D-3C available as a semi-artificial forward-going bid. Opener's rebids of 2D and 3C are both natural and nonforcing. With a strong hand and no stopper, you jump to 3D or 4C (the latter setting trump and starting cuebids).

1C-1D in the MAFIA style

As I noted in the introduction, I started playing extended inverted minors when I was playing a Polish club. In SA or 2/1, the 1D response is natural. We use this bid with a long diamond suit and no 4-card major and 6 HCP of course; but our most common reason to respond 1D is a desire to bid notrump but either out-of-range or lacking a stopper. Our 1NT response to 1C is 8-10, and 2NT is forcing as described above; so a balaced 6-7 or 11-12 without a 4-card major often responds 1D to 1C. Opener's 1C-1D-1NT rebid confirms stoppers in both majors (he may even be 4-4-1-4!) while opener's 1C-1D-1M says opener either has a club-major two-suiter, or is wide open in the other major and unwilling to declare notrump.

Example hands

To be added as time permits.
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This page last updated 14.01.10
©2010 Gordon Bower