Point count ranges for strong balanced hands

I would like to start a debate on how best to bid strong balanced hands.
I have read a book by Bernard Magee entitled “Better Hand Evaluation”, in which he suggests slightly different point count ranges for bidding balanced hands with 15+ HCPs. [He also talks about “upgrading” and “downgrading” the “worth” of a hand dependent upon shape, etc, but that is a separate topic.]
Bernard’s proposal is that:
- after a one-over-one response, 1NT shows 15-17 HCPs and 2NT shows 18-19 HCPs.
- after a two-over-one response, 2NT shows 15-19 HCPs (and should be considered as game-forcing).
- hence Opener never rebids 3NT.
This seems eminently sensible to me, especially for Beginners:
- It’s much easier to remember.
- You are less likely to end up too high.
Beginners hate 1NT contracts. They would all much rather be in 2NT than 3NT with a 19-6 split in points. You and I might consider the latter an interesting challenge, but Beginners don’t!
I know that, statistically, the odds favour making 1NT with 21 HCPs, 2NT with 23, etc, but Beginners often struggle when they have the bare minimum.
For the more advanced learner it leaves more bidding space to investigate the possibility of a 5-3 fit in a Major. For example, after 1H-1S-1NT, a rebid by Responder of 2H shows 3 H. This will be particularly useful if all the current inconsistencies in BfA are going to be ironed out such that BfA promotes opening 1NT with a 5-card Major.
Look at the possible sequence 1H-1S-2NT-3H-3S-4S, Responder having 3 H and 5 S, and Opener 4 H and 3S.
I don’t want to go into too much detail here – there are far more able/clever teachers out there than me to follow it through, but I would recommend reading Bernard’s book. It’s excellent brain-fodder.
If Book One is going to be re-issued later this year, it would be an appropriate time to include these changes as well.
Sorry if I’ve gone on a bit!


  • I think there is quite a bit to be said for this. The 3NT rebid is a very clumsy bid as it takes up so much bidding space. However any change like this needs to be carefully discussed beforehand. We should endeavour to make sure that if possible EBU Materials match those with No fear Bridge, for example. It should also go without saying that all the examples, quizzes and hands from the practice book should all be checked and changed if necessary.
  • This is going to be a great discussion so I hope we have lots of people joining in!
    Whatever happens, we know that beginners need a keep it simple approach and some struggle with the difference of one over one and two over one responses. There is a very good tutorial on No Fear Bridge for NT rebids which explains it really well.
    Thanks for joining in with this new topic and the book recommendation. I know lots of people who’ve been on Bernard Magee’s cruises and weekends and really enjoyed them.

  • I think Bernard MgGhee's book on Hand Evaluation is out of print at present? A great shame because I agree that it is one of the most useful bridge books ever!

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