The Meckstroth Adjunct to the Forcing 1NT

Introduction

The Meckstroth Adjunct adds clarity and definition to opener's game-forcing rebids after his opening bid of 1 or 1 has received a forcing 1NT response. It is a convention that is applicable only to bidding systems that are "Two-Over-One Game-Forcing" and use 5-card major suit opening bids.

The Problem

When the opening bidder, after having received a response of 1NT, is strong enough to force to game, his normal action is to jump in a new suit to the three level. But responder will not know whether opener has 5 cards in the second suit or if he has only 4 cards. In some cases it may even be a short suit, and opener will not want to see it supported in that case!

Clearly, however, responder must be permitted to support opener's second suit, since that might well be the best denomination for a potential slam contract. But if opener's 3-card second suit attracts support, opener will be running scared for the rest of the auction. And if responder has 3-card or 4-card support for opener's second suit, should he show it or not? Responder frequently cannot tell which action is best, and experts do not like having to guess.

The Meckstroth Adjunct

The Meckstroth Adjunct is an artificial raise of responder's forcing 1NT to 2NT. It solves responder's problem by giving better definition to all of opener's game-forcing rebids.

When the Meckstroth Adjunct is part of the partnership's agreements, all jump bids by opener of a new suit at the three level show a game-forcing hand with at least 5 cards in each suit. All other game-forcing hands are described via opener's artificial rebid of 2NT, the Meckstroth Adjunct.

After opener has raised responder's forcing 1NT to 2NT, responder is required to take the following action:

The bidding is simple after an auction such as 1, 1NT; 2NT, 3. Slam can be investigated using the partnership's familiar methods.

After Responder Bids 3

Responder has denied support for opener's suit. Opener can now describe his hand, so that any potential fit in a second suit can be discovered. Opener continues as follows:

It follows that when opener jumps in a new suit after a 1NT response he is showing at least 5 cards in the second suit, and responder can support with confidence with as few as 3 cards.

The meanings of opener's jump rebids of his first suit to the three and four level remain unchanged. A jump to the three level is game-invitational and a jump to game shows a self-sufficient suit and game values opposite a minimum response.

What if opener wanted to make a natural raise to 2NT?

If opener has, say, a balanced hand with 18 hcp and a 5-card heart suit, and receives a 1NT response to his opening bid of 1, his natural rebid would be an invitational and non-forcing 2NT. If the partnership is using the Meckstroth Adjunct then clearly he cannot make that bid.

Instead, opener rebids a 3-card minor, just as he would with a weak balanced hand. He intends to make a natural and game-invitational rebid of 2NT on the next round, although his plans will obviously change if responder makes a strong second bid.

It is true that responder may pass opener's minor suit rebid, but this will only happen when responder is weak and has 5-card support. And if it does happen then it may well be a good contract, perhaps even the last making contract. Occasionally, and very rarely, we may miss a making 3NT contract when responder has about 8 hcp and 5-card support for opener's second suit and passes opener's rebid. More frequently, though, when responder passes opener's rebid of a short suit we will find that we get a positive score while other pairs are failing in the 2NT or 3NT contract that natural bidding would have led to.

There is thus no significant drawback from losing opener's natural 2NT rebid. The Meckstroth Adjunct gains heavily in helping to find the best game or slam contract when opener is strong and unbalanced. This is particularly important at IMP scoring, but even at pairs scoring it is very valuable to be able to bid the best game or slam, and to stay out of poor slams.

Author: Chris Burton
Gravesend Bridge Club