Polling You #49:Slam Bidding – Minorwood, Day 9, March 7, 2011

Minorwood Slam Bidding – Duplicate and Contract Bridge

When it comes to bidding slams, there’s nothing quite like having the right tool for the right situation.  The Blackwood convention can be great to find a major suit slam, Gerber is a cool Ace-asking tool when partner balanced the bidding in Notrump, and the Quantitative slam try helps when we just want to know partner’s range.

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So how you elegantly probe for a slam with partner in a minor suit?  Could the Minorwood convention provide us relief from going overboard with the bidding?  Read on!

Minor Suit Bidding Strategy:

3 Notrump – Stoppers and less than 33 points

5 in Minor Suit – No stoppers and 29-32 points

Explore Minor Suit Slam – 33+ distributional points

Why Yet Another Slam Convention Like Minorwood?

3 Notrump contracts are easier to make than 5C or 5D

3 Notrump contracts are more profitable than 5C or 5D (40 + 30 + 30)

The Blackwood 4 Notrump response paradox:  1C … 4N; … showing 1 Ace is 5 Diamonds, passing 5C
Minorwood Bidding Prerequisites – When is it Minorwood?

1D – 3D, Minor suit agreement

1H – 3D, Self-sustaining minor suit

1S – 2D; 3D – 4C/D, Bidding beyond 3 Notrump as a Minorwood Ace-asking conventional method

When is the bid NOT Minorwood?

1C – 2D; 3C – 3H; 3S – 4C, lacking a stopper

3D – 4D;   Raising partner’s preempt

1D – 2C; 2S – 3C, Misfits are not candidates for Minorwood

1C – 3C; 5C, Bypassing Minorwood altogether

1D – 3D; 3H – 3S; 4D, the bidding seemed to be a failed 3 Notrump “dance”

1D – (3C) – 4D, with interference 4D seems to be “to play” (cuebidding 4C would be slam-going)

Controls – Avoid opponents from taking 2 quick tricks in a suit.
Do not bid Minorwood without a first or second round suit control.

Ace, Void, King-Queen, Singleton, King+

West Hand: Missing 1+ Round – No Minorwood, bid controls
4 3                   No controls
A Q 4 3 2     First Round
A Q J 2         First Round
Q 2                  No controls

East Hand: 1+ each suit controls, player may bid Minorwood
2                       Second Round
K 5                   Second Round
K T 9 8 7 6  Second Round
A K 6 5          First and Second

West Hand: 1+ each suit controls, player may bid Minorwood
2                        Second Round
A Q 4 3 2      First Round
A Q J 2          First Round
K Q                  Second Round
East Hand: Missing 1+ Round – No Minorwood, bid controls
5 4 3               No controls
K 5                   Second Round
K T 9 8 7 6  Second Round
A J                   First Round

Two Options to Invoke Minorwood – Partnership Agreement Needed

1. Bid 4 level in the other minor suit after a suit fit

1D – 3D; 4C    4C invokes Minorwood

1D – 4C;          4C invokes Minorwood

2. Bid 4 level in the agreed minor suit (may create ambiguity between Minorwood and signoff)

1D – 3D; 4D     4D invokes Minorwood

1D – 4D;           4D invokes Minorwood

Method 2 works best when playing the Inverted Minor convention to show a stronger hand

1D – 2D; 4D     Since 2D shows 10+ points, here it’s clear 4D is Minorwood and not a signoff

3. Partnership agreements, please!  Especially when making a Grandslam try

After a Minorwood ask-response and going beyond 5 in minor, cuebid Kings “up the line”

Signoff Examples

1D – 3D; 3N

1D – 3D; 5D

1D – 3D; 3S – 3N; 5D

1D – 3D; 3N – 4C/D; 4x – 4N    Failed Minorwood slam try (Ace ask-response revealed missing Aces)

1D – 2D; 4C/D – 4x; 5y – 5z; 6D   Cuebidding Kings up the line above 5 in minor suit (missing Kings)

Minorwood Summary:

Bidding past desirable 3 Notrump generally shows interest in slam

Using 4 Notrump Blackwood is too high to ask for Aces, response may be past 5C/D signoff

Minorwood is invoked by 4C/4D using same/opposite minor, depending on partnership agreements

Minorwood grandslam ask is accomplished by bidding Kings “up the line” by suit rank

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Happy Bridge Trails and Tales,



  1. aaroncody says:

    I love your service, but have one major problem with your bidding examples. I’d guess a large majority of your members play 1430 or 3014 Key Card not standard Blackwood. So the example auctions do not apply. Why not use Polling You to confirm which system is most widely used and use it for future bidding examples. If I am correct and a majority the use of key card and the Queen Ask, many of your bidding lessons non-applicable to a majority of your members.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Aaron Cody,
      Wow, you must be reading our minds! We have been patiently waiting for slam lesson #10, Polling You #50 issue to celebrate the 1430/Roman Keycard Blackwood convention with our special issue!
      For those who know 1430/RKC, we hope you have been able to easily transpose our prior Blackwood-oriented responses with your more advanced responses just as we’d do at the table when our opponents play a different variation.
      More to your point, we have a considerable following of social Contract Bridge players that prefer to limit the number of Bridge conventions played with their partners. One of our goals at BridgeHands is to offer content that is useful for a wide range of players from novice through advanced proficiency. That means that we begin each hand by counting out each hand, adding up the High Card Points, adding possible distribution points and the like. We realize that advanced players do not need this level of commentary yet we always try to have a few advanced concepts in bidding and play so everyone can find useful content in the lesson. And I’m sure you would agree that since a large percentage of BridgeHands members have purchased paid Premium and ULTRA memberships, we should certainly support their needs (as well as our Bridge Teacher members who teach novice-intermediate students)
      At any rate, we are happy to announce that the upcoming lesson #50 on March 9th will indeed be devoted to 1430/RKC. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and offering feedback – we sincerely appreciate your suggestions. For instance, while we might have overlooked running a series of lessons on Doubles (Takeout, Negative, etc.), we have received feedback to offer lessons on the fundamentals so we ran a segment of lessons for our emerging Bridge players. Knowing our advanced players would find much of the material would be too basic for their needs, we tried to include a few comprehensive advanced “play of the hand” concepts on some of the hands.
      So in our dreams we’d enjoy offering advanced lessons on 1430 style Exclusion Blackwood, Mini-Max Gerber, 1430 style DOPI, etc. Still, we should not lose sight of the marketplace. For instance, of the 200,000+ members of the American Contract Bridge League, most members have less than 500 Masterpoints and do not play advanced conventions:
      Bottom line – we will keep trying to offer lessons that offer players at all levels useful content. Perhaps over time we will be able to better segment lessons for Newcomer-Novice and Intermediate-Advanced players. And yes, the upcoming issue #50 will cover more advanced 1430/RKC methods.
      Warm Regards,
      • subbaroow says:

        mr Michael

        THANK YOU

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