Basic Responses to 1NT (Acol)

Length: 10 minutes

Two criteria:

  1. A balanced hand.
  2. 12-14 HCP


  1. When you have roughly the same number of cards in each suit, you do not have a strong preference for a trump suit.
  2. When you have a balanced hand, your strength is very dependent on your HCP: so we keep the range narrow! This makes it easier for your partner to decide whether to bid and, if so, how high.

How to respond when Partner opens 1NT

Reminders: If you have 25 HCP between you, you should bid a game.

                     Game in NT is 3NT.

In this lesson, we will concentrate on hands where you are happy to play in NT.

Weak hands are those that cannot make game even if P has 14! They are therefore hands with 0-10 HCP. If you are weak, pass.

Invitational hands cannot make game if P has 12; but if P has 14, they can! They are therefore hands with 11-12 HCP. If you are invitational, bid the step between Partner’s bid and game and bid 2NT.

Game-going hands can make a game even if P only has 12; but even if P has 14, they cannot make a slam! They are therefore hands with 13-18 HCP. If you are game-going, bid 3NT.


1NT – Pass = ≤10 HCP

            2NT = 11-12 HCP

            3NT = 13-18 HCP

How to bid as Opener when Responder invites you to game

Auction: 1NT – 2NT – ; ?

Your partner is giving you a choice based on where you are in your range.

If you have 12 or a poor 13 HCP, you have a minimum. Pass.

If you have 14 or a good 13 HCP, you have a maximum. Bid 3NT.

Deciding whether your 13 is a good 13 or not is difficult but here are some things to look for:

  • As and Ks rather than Qs or Js = good
  • Honours in sequences rather than scattered between your suits = good
  • Honours in your long suits rather than in your doubleton = good
  • Intermediate rather than low spot cards, i.e. Ts and 9s rather than 3s and 2s = good
  • 4333-shape = bad
  • 5332-shape = good
Back to: First Steps: How to Bid in Bridge (Acol)