Tellico Village Duplicate Bridge Club

Tellico is a member of Knoxville Bridge Association


Puppet Stayman vs 5-Card Stayman
Which will you choose?

In beginning  bridge classes, novices are taught to open 1 NT regardless of the fact that their hand may contain a 5 card Major.  Trying to explain the difference in evaluating "good" and "bad" suits and hands confuses new players and then of course the rebid presents an even more difficult problem!  Even established partnerships may even have some similar problems with these difficult situations.  Puppet Stayman solves many of the problems that arise, but often times even when the partnership discovers their "fit" the suit turns out to be of such poor quality that a 3NT contract might have faired better.  5 Card Stayman will solve these problems...however I suggest that you start with "Puppet" and progress to 5-card Stayman at a later date...

Just remember if you re opening 1 NT with a 5 card Major...make sure you have xxx (3 cards) in the other don't want to have partner transfer and pass...ending your side in a 5-2 fit... if a better  (5-3) fit is available!


I strongly suggest...   2 C be used as regular Stayman ...Partner I have a 4 card you?

                                               3 C be used as Puppet Stayman... Partner I have a 3 card you have 5 in either major?


Puppet Stayman is the simplest of the 2 bids and differs from 5-card Stayman in that after the responder makes the 3 Club forcing request for a 5 card Major..
a 3D response from the opener says they do not have a 5 card Major but they do have a 4 card Major...
                                (it doesn't say anything about the quality of the suit...the rest of the system is still in force...)

If the Opener makes the 3 D bid...indicating  a 4 card Major...The responder now has a few choices... 

            1.  If responder has no  4 card Major they simply bid 3 NT...Responder only needs a 3 card in a Major to use Puppet Stayman!...

            2.  If responder has a 4 card Major...they don't bid it...rather they bid the major they DO NOT HOLD! 

Since both partners know there is a game either in a major or in NT...this gives the NT opener the opportunity to be the declarer! 

If responder holds both Majors...Oh Well at least you will get to a game!  Being that strong it probably doesn't matter who is declarer...



With hands of game going quality...10+ the responder will make a bid of 3C...


                Opener's Rebids:                  3NT=No 5 Card Major  &   No 4 Card Major

                                                                3H/S=5 Card (or very good quality) 4 Card Major

                                                                3D=I have a 4 Card Major...but it is very poor               


After discovering that the opener's suit is of poor quality, the responder is in a better position to evaluate where to place the game.  If the responder chooses to play in the Major instead of 3 NT...they will bid the Major that they DO NOT have...allowing the opener to then bid either the correct major or 3NT.  (Sort of a partial plagiarism of the Smolen convention, which still allows the 1N opening hand to remain as declarer.)


If the responder has both Majors and wants to place the contract in the opener's suit...they bid either 4C or 4D...these bids could have any meaning the partnership might choose to assign.


(Perhaps the difference might be specifying individual suit quality?)

(4C shows Better Hearts than Spades vs 4D shows Better Spades than Hearts)