Continuing with the theme of having fun this season, I was playing a game of social bridge with my wife, Leslie, our son, David, and his wife Cassi. Cassi and I were partners. David and Cassi are relatively new to bridge, but they both know most of the popular bridge conventions. David is a very disciplined engineer with a solid math background and a very conventional (no pun intended) bridge player, just like his mother. For the most part, he knows, understands, and follows all the rules. Cassi, on the other hand, like me, stretches the rules and takes unconventional (though well thought out) risks from time to time.
So, Cassi picks up this hand:
♠ Q 10 4 3
♥ K 9 3 2
♦ J 6 5 3
I open 1 No Trump. Now Cassi knows full well she needs 8 points or more to bid the Stayman Convention … but she only has 6. But, being Cassi, she says to herself … what could go wrong if I bid 2♣? If my partner has 4 Spades, great. If he has 4 Hearts, also great. If either of these is true, he will bid at the 2 level and I will PASS.
But, what if he doesn’t have a 4-card major? Well, he is obligated to bid 2♦ … also great. If he doesn’t have a 4 card major, he is likely to have Diamonds. He cannot PASS, so I cannot be left in a terrible 2♣ contract. So, Cassi, without realizing it, re-invents the Garbage Stayman bid. I happen to have 4♥, so I bid 2♥ and Cassie PASSES.
I gave Cassi one of my infamous facial expressions, suggesting that she must have made an error. She knows that I have, on the average, 16 points and she must have at least 8, so I’m about to reprimand her for not bidding at least 2 NT or 3♥ to see if there is a game possiibility when she puts down her hand.
When I see the hand, instead of reprimanding her, I congratulate her on using the Garbage Stayman convention which, by the way, she never heard of.
So, let’s review this convention.
Your partner opens 1 No Trump and the opponent Passes. If you hold 4♠, 4♥, 4♦, and 1♣ or alternatively, 4♠, 4♥ and 5♦ and have 7 points or less, you bid 2♣.
Generally speaking, holding a singleton or a void, you will be better off in a suit contract rather than No Trump.Whatever your partner bids next, you PASS. It’s a rare occurrence, but does pop up from time to time.
Let’s look at a couple hands that might be suitable for this convention.
Never use this convention if you have 5♠ or 5♥ since a transfer bid will usually turn out better.