The Power of the Weak NT
by Paul, on Tuesday, 10th November 2020
This was Hand 17 in a recent county-wide Simultaneous Pairs event. At most tables, East played in 2NT, sometimes making 8 tricks for +120; sometimes 9 tricks for +150. Rarely, E/W managed to reach 3NT, but pairs who got to that contract usually made it for +400.
At my table, first-in-hand non-vulnerable, I decided to open the North cards with 1NT (11pts + two more half points for my tens). This now meant that E/W couldn't bid and my opening was passed out.
West led 3c and down came the disappointing dummy. But, this is why I love playing 1NT contracts. I knew that, as the opponents held 24pts between them, they could be making 2NT for +120 or 3C for +110. Therefore, if I could go just two down to score them +100, I would get a good results.
My focus on this deal therefore was not to try to make seven tricks, but to look for five.
I won the club lead in dummy with Kc and lead a low spade to my king, before returning a spade to dummys 10s and West's As. E/W took their three ciub tricks and then, East, who was afraid to lead away from her dAQ, switched to a low heart. This allowed me to score three spade tricks, a club and a heart, for two down and a score of -100. This scored us 93.7%
Even if E/W had got their defence perfectly correct, I still would have scored about 35% but, equally, if East had led a more normal low heart, I would make 5 tricks before they had any chance of stopping me.
This is why the Weak NT is so powerful at Duplicate Pairs. It is pre-emptive, and it is almost always better to go down in 1NT than to let your opponents make their contract, especially when your side is non-vulnerable.
So, do not fear playing in 1NT contract and failing to make it.
I've almost made a career out of it...