Three Notrump in Depth
Augie Boehm

Discounts on bulk purchases.

September 2006
176 pp.
ISBN: 0-9728061-6-4


This book is not intended for beginners, but whether you are a social player, a tournament devotee, or anywhere in between, 3NT means something special. Some players hate notrump--they lack confidence in the play. (If you are one of them, that should change after reading Part II of this book.) Most players love 3NT, especially duplicate competitors. Bridge writers often refer to 3NT as everyone's favorite contract. Probably you know players who love to leap to 3NT and sweep in the matchpoints when they steal the contract or collect valuable overtricks. Perhaps you're one of them. Tournament aficionados are familiar with "Hamman'a Rule"--in tribute to Bob Hamman, many-time World ChampionCl in a competitive auction, if 3NT is among several reasonable options, pick it. An old rubber bridge stratagem in fourth seat was to open 3NT after three passes, holding a balanced or semi-balanced 17-19 HCP, relying on the law of averages (and inaccurate defense) to provide a play for nine tricks.


Iⶥ heard some bridge teachers warn beginners to spurn 5C and 5D in favor of 3NT. Clubs are for your golf bag, diamonds are for your fingers, trump is for bridge players. It's catchy and it contains a certain truth. In the game zone, notrump should be the first consideration, five of a minor the last resort, especially at matchpoint scoring where ten tricks in notrump outscore eleven in a minor. And in any form of scoring, it tends to be easier to win nine tricks than eleven. Having said that, many players carry the notion much too far, succumbing to the lure of 3NT even when the evidence suggests otherwise.


Evaluate the evidence--that is the key to good bidding. Any efficient bidding method should make investigation of 3NT paramount, but when an exploratory auction indicates that 3NT is likely to fail, the scorned minors must become a refuge. In Part I, this book will equip you with a variety of useful, easy-to-master bidding tools to help you and partner discover when to grab the 3NT brass ring, and, just as important, when to avoid it. A discriminating partnership will always do better (in the long run) than the plungers.


Reaching good 3NT contracts doesn't confer an automatic bonus--there is that niggling rule about needing to make what you bid. So, Part II is dedicated to the play of 3NT. There are several recurring themes that a successful declarer must recognize, and techniques to apply. Since you are apt to defend 3NT twice as often as you declare (50% versus 25%), defensive counters are given full weight in this card play section.


When you acquire a good grasp of the ways and means of 3NT, your scores are bound to improve, precisely because 3NT is such a pivotal contract. Of equal importance, the study of one topic in depth helps you better comprehend the totality of bridge. It's a classic approach: take a complex structure, break it down into parts, and closely examine the details. A chef who makes a specialty of sauces will enrich his repertoire and become a more creative chef An instrumentalist who decides to specialize in J. S. Bach will become a more profound musician. Your bidding will develop a smoother flow, your tactics will sharpen, and your card play will gain accuracy. You will win more.

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