In travels from one house to another, you may come across variations of no-trump bidding, and you will hear occasional references to the weak opening no trump. While I came face to face with this practice in my youthful days at the bridge table, my first big league exposure to the weak no-trump game was in Bermuda in 1950 at the time of the first world championship. The British team were using the weak no trump and, since my companions had sharpened up their doubling weapons, our European cousins ran into considerable misfortune when the hands broke badly, and on several occasions our team reaped a harvest of 800 and 1,100 points. In this country some players had adopted the practice of employing the weak no trump when not vulnerable, but our stalwart cousins decided that the fear of vulnerability was not becoming to their stoic natures and so they made no distinction. After their first day's unhappy experience, however, their captain approached us at the start of the next session and pointed out that at a meeting of the team it had been decided to increase the requirements for the no-trump opening by one point. This did help them a little but it did not permanently turn the tide.
It has become the practice to put "no-trump bidding"—which really means the sequences that flow from no-trump openings—in a distinctive category. (Measures that would be normal after an opening bid in a suit are often turned upside down—or at any rate slanted to quite a degree—when the opening bid has been one, two or three no trump.)
In no-trump bidding we do not provide at the outset for distribution, so the deck remains constant at 40 points. It is consoling, therefore, when your side can account for 37 points, to be assured that the opposition cannot have an ace. Similarly, if you have 33 points it is clear that the adversaries cannot have two aces. I do not mean to imply that distributional considerations are lost; on the contrary, while a raise from one no trump to two no trump requires eight high-card points, you may raise with seven points if you have a reasonably good five-card suit.
Opening no-trump bids are made on a limited number of hands, and these should be distributed 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2. In addition to the high-card requirements designated in the table, it is to be pointed out that for an opening bid of one no trump at least three suits must be protected, but for an opening no-trump bid of higher denomination the bidder must have safe protection in all four suits.
While an opening bid of one in a suit is frequently ambiguous and in a sense unlimited, inasmuch as it can vary anywhere from 13 points up to perhaps 21, the opening no-trump bid is never vague and it can be pinpointed at all times within a range of three points. While a series of bids may be necessary to describe the strength of a hand which is opened with one of a suit, any opening no-trump bid practically classifies the hand as to high-card strength.
An accessory to no-trump bidding which has been almost universally adopted is the use of the two-club bid by partner of the no-trump bidder. (This is frequently referred to as the Stayman convention.) When the responder bids two clubs it is the duty of the opening bidder to announce a four-card biddable major suit if he has one. "Biddable" for the purpose of this rule is considered Q x x x or better.
Let us look at a few problems along these lines and, after you have determined your own inclinations, you can turn the page to see how I would advise you to proceed.