Stayman Convention

Stayman is a bidding convention in bridge, this means that it is an artificial bid which is used by a partnership to find a 4-4 or 5-3 trump fit in a major suit after the opener makes a one notrump (1NT) opening bid. Stayman Convention has been adapted for use after a 2NT opening, a 1NT overcall, and many other natural NoTrump bids.

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How can I find a four card Major fit after partner opens 1NT?

The Problem

The success rate for a game contract in a major suit when a partnership has a combined holding of 26 points and an eight card fit in a major is around 80%, as opposed to a game contract in 3NT with 26 high card points (HCP) which succeeds at a rate of only 60%. Also a game contract bid and made in a major suit scores better than a game contract bid and made in a minor suit or in notrump.

The Form

After an opening bid or an overcall of 1NT (2NT), responder bids an artificial 2♣ (3♣) asking if the opener holds a four or five card major suit. This club bid promises four cards in either if not both of the major suits as well as the strength to continue bidding after partner’s response

To Respond Positively to a Stayman Convention Bid

Standard American

You need at least 8 HCP in SAYC for an Stayman Convention bid opposite a standard strong 1NT opening or overcall showing 15-17 HCP


You need 11 HCP opposite a weak notrump of 12-14 HCP

Stayman Convention after Partner Opens 2NT

You need 5 HCP to go to game opposite a standard opening 2NT (showing 20-21 points).
NOTE: you must not have a 4333 distribution  making a Stayman Convention bid

The Opener replies to Stayman with…

The opener responds with the following rebids.

  • 2♦ (or 3♦) denying four or the major suits.
  • 2♥ (or 3♥) showing at least four heart cards but not denying 4 spades
  • 2♠ (or 3♠)

Negative Response to the Stayman

2♦ from the notrump bidder denies a holding in either of the 4-card majors.
The responder may then bid his 5 card major at the level of 2 of his major with 8-9 HCP, or with a call of 3 of his major with 10 HCP. This allows notrump bidder to find game in a major with a 5-3 split. Otherwise, opener has the option to retreat to the appropriate notrump contract. us, a notrump opener who holds at least four cards in each major suit should “correct” by bidding the other major suit at the lowest level.

Responders second bid

  • If the notrump opener names a major suit and the responder has four cards in that suit, the responder bids three of the notrump bidder’s suit (invitational) with 8-9 HCP or four of the notrump bidder’s major suit (game) with 10 or more HCP.
  • If the notrump bidder bids a major suit in which the responder does not have at least four cards, the responder may bid 2NT (invitational) with 8-9 HCP or 3NT (game) with 10 or more HCP.
  • With 5+ cards in the unnamed major, the Stayman bidder can bid their own suit at a level in order to find a 5-3 fit.

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