The 5 card puppet Stayman method fits all 8-card major fits and works best over 2NT, or a strong 1NT.
Use of this convention was discussed on the Usenet groub rec.games.bridge in 2002.
Our objective is to reveal 5 card majors in the NT opener, and ensure that he becomes declarer. This rather nice method definition was posted to Usenet by John (MadDog) Probst as part of the discussion archived below2NT - 3 5-card puppet Stayman, used whenever no 5 card major held
Partner and I are considering Puppet Stayman over 2NT openers.
I guess you play a simple Stayman at the moment?!advantages:
Thanks, but I was thinking more about specific hand patterns that are hard to handle. How do you deal with 5 spades, 4 hearts for instance? Jim Greer
In the Netherlands we play 2NT - 3NT as 5 spades and 4 hearts, a hand that wishes to play 3NT, must first bid 3C. Also after 2NT - 3D, 3NT promises 5 spades and 2 hearts, the same goes for 2NT - 3H, 3NT = 5 hearts and 2 spades. Merlijn
Me and my partner play that but with 3S as relay to 3NT instead of going through 3C Hilbrandt
And there's a third way:
Now 2NT - 3NT is drop dead.Sid Ismail
This wrongsides a spade contract though. Micha Keijzers
I actually steer away from 2NT-3NT as being something so unnatural. Just my style I suppose... Sid
We call this 2NT-3NT as 5S+4H also the "beer convention" sometimes. If you forget it's costing you a beer! Micha Keijzers
Goodness me. That's why you play it? Sid
It can be difficult for opener to remember that it's puppet Stayman and not regular Stayman. That was my experience when we first started using it. Responder also may have an ethical problem (at least in the ACBL): if he forgets that 3C is puppet Stayman, and he bids 3C and hears his partner alert, he will be awakened to the fact that opener's responses mean something different, and he needs to remember topretend he didn't hear the alert and that opener's response is a response to normal Stayman.
One possible drawback I can think of: The purpose of puppet Stayman is to find 5-3 major fits when opener has opened 2NT with a 5-card major. Thus, responder will use puppet Stayman more often than he would use regular Stayman, since responder will use it on some hands with just a 3-card major as well as on hands with a 4-card major. This means that information about opener's hand will be revealed to the opponents more often. (If responder never uses puppet Stayman without a 4-card major, then I don't see the point of playing Puppet).
Another drawback is that it gives the opponents more opportunities to make doubles (e.g. 2NT-3C-3D [I have at least one major]-3S [I have hearts] --- 3S can be doubled here, while the opponents have no such opportunity after 2NT-3C-3H-4H). I suspect that both of these drawbacks are minor. Adam Beneschan
I am not so sure. Ask Bob Hamman which convention he'd prefer to defend against: regular or puppet Stayman. I think we can both guess the answer! Andrew Gumperz
It can be difficult for opener to remember This problem applies to any significant change in your system. I don't think it's a drawback of the puppet Stayman convention itself.Barry Margolin
My first question: How often do you and your partner open 2NT with a 5-card major? If theanswer is only if the 5-card major is so good that no 3-card support will help it or only if the 5-card major is so bad that you need 3 honors to make it worthwile to play as a trump suit, then you don't need puppet Stayman at all.
Second question: How often do you open 2NT when you are precisely 4-4 in the majors? If the answer is as often as possible, then the more common variation of Stayman is far more useful.
The advice given elsewhere about using the 2NT - 3NT sequence to show 4 hearts and 5 spades and 2NT - 3C - 3X - 3NT for run of the mill raise is well to take. maravera
At IMPs, it is not as important to find the 5-3 fit: the major will most often produce one more trick than NT, so you lose 1 IMP when it's +400 vs. +420 and none when both are -50. It's a push when it's +430 vs. +420, and a huge gain when you go +400 vs. -50. It is assumed that with essentially balanced hands, that case will be more common than -50 vs. +420.
An obvious drawback is playing a different scheme than you play over 1NT. Playing normal Stayman with Smolen, responder can show all of:
You pay off to Puppet Stayman when the 3-5 fit is there and it's right. Case 6 is one rarely mentioned by proponents of alterante schemes: opener may well be 2245 or 2263 and 3NT may be the best spot. However, this will be rare, and with 5-5 shape 4H or 4S may be best even without a fit. If I've given up that sequence to show specifically 5-5, I would probably just treat 5-5 as if it were 4-5: transfer, rebid 3S and pass if opener bids 3NT.
In terms of information, Puppet gains in the relatively common case 2, but either loses in case 1 or has limited chance of finding the 3-5 fit if responder doesn't bother using Puppet unless he has a 4-card major. I would think that if you're going to use Puppet without a 4-card major, you should allow opener to rebid 3NT with no four card major (3D thus promises one or both majors.) This is somewhat more revealing than straight puppet but solves the problem of what responder does over 3D with both majors: he shows one, and if opener doesn't raise, he bids the other. It seems logical to use 3NT in this scheme for specifically 5-4 and 3S as a transfer to 3NT, with followups to show minor-suited hands.2N-3C 5-card puppet Stayman, used whenever no 5cM held
A fairly comprehensive scheme for finding major suit fits. Doesn't explicitly handle 5-5 majors (these can be treated as 4-5 OR responder can assume a fit and force to 4 of a major). Biggest drawback I see is taking a lot of bids to get to 3NT on the common sequences 2NT-3C-3D-3H-3S or 3NT. This gives 4th hand two chances to double for a lead, and reveals a lot about opener's spades.
Showing 5 of the other major (2NT-3D-3S or 2NT-3H-3NT) crosses responder up when he wanted to sign off, but I can't recall bailing out at 3H or 3S all that often.
I don't see 2NT-3NT listed; to play, I assume? Or invites correction to either major with 5? Or some minor suited hand? Paul Hightower
At IMPs, it is not as important to find the 5-3 fit
After a 2NT opening you have little space available to find out whether the hand should be played in NT or whether it should be played in 4H/4S. After a 2NT opening, with a 5-3 fit discovered via Puppet-Stayman, I prefer to play in the 5-3 fit. If they find a good lead opposite 3NT it is down, while 4M might still have chances. If you have a long auction you might get to a good 3NT, but after a 2NT opening you just don't have the space to find out.
Further, because the 2NT opening can contain more shapes than the regular balanced shapes opened with 1NT, it is preferable after a 2NT opening to be playing in the major when you find the 5-3 fit. Generally speaking, I think the 5-3 fit should be played in 4M after a 2NT opening, because I think that on average it will more often be the right contract.
An advantage which I haven't seen mentioned yet (but I may have missed it) is that Puppet-Stayman can discover a 5-4 fit, which makes slam tries based on the large fit possible. Micha Keijzers
It also applies to a minor suit slam, as an example:
1) minor suit asking
2) 4 clubs
3) 1430 RKC
4) 4 keycards
5) grand slam trial
6) diamond and heart K, so I accept
An alternate proposal:
Puppet Stayman has two goals: finding a 3-5 major fit, and otherwise concealing opener's shape. Since hands with 4-card majors are more common than those with 5, consider Inverted Puppet Stayman and Transfers (essentially using Stayman for most transfer ahnds and Transfers for most Stayman hands):
2NT-3C: Used with no four-card major (may have 5 or 5-5) -3D: Transfer to hearts, as drop dead, or with 4 or 6 -3H: Transfer to spades, drop dead or 4 or 6 -3S: Puppet to 3NT, to play or with long minor or 5-5 minors -3NT: 4-4 majors (also 4NT and 5NT, slam invitation and slam force)
On the routine Stayman hands with one major, responder simply transfers and returns to notrump. This gives the opps only one artificial bid to double and minimal information.
With a 5-card major, responder bids 3C and then rebids the other major over 3D. In response to 3C, opener usually bids 3D but can show a 5-card major or rebid 3NT to show no 3-card major.
5-4 is easily shown by 3D then 3S. That leaves 4-5 as a problem (or you could reverse or combine these two.) I'd say combine the two, since you could easily be 2-2 or 1-3 in a minor with this shape and opener may be able to judge that a 7-card major fit looks right, or an 8-card fit may play ok at notrump. He's looking at enough points to know where the weak spot is likely to be.
To reduce the memory load, this scheme looks like it would work fine over 1NT, if you can stand giving up Garbage Stayman. The gain from reduced information on routine Stayman hands is probably worth that trade, at least for strong notrumpers.Paul Hightower
Things you have to consider are
After agreeing all this, the drawback is that you have to remenber it all. Regards, a player that has forgotten the system 3 times :-) Pekka Niemistö
Suggest 4D so as to avoid wrong-siding heart contracts3H5 card major
If you want to be fancy, and dislike playing 4333 opposite 4333 in a suit you can play this 3H response as either 5 Hs, or 3=4=3=3. Now 3S asks which, and 3NT over 3S shows 3=4=3=3.2NT-3Spuppets 3N
If you play 2N - 3C - 3H as suggested, then 2NT - 3NT shows 4=3=3=3. this has one advantage: if opener forgets it, it will rarely cost.
2NT - 3NT - 4H/S are, of course, impossible when 3NT is natural, so these bids are AI to partner to remind him of the convention, and
If responder never uses Puppet Stayman without a 4-card major, then I don't see the point of playing Puppet.)
Isn't it to conceal opener's major suit distribution? Wasn't the original version of puppet Stayman really a puppet and not, as is common now, a marionette? (The difference is that in a puppet, opener has no choice other than 2D.) Then responder describes major suits, and opener decides where to play. In the original version, I think a direct 3NT showed both majors, but I don't see why you couldn't reverse the meanings.
This costs "garbage Stayman" but gives you a signoff in diamonds. Also, it doubles the number of sequences available for higher suit bids (e.g., over 1NT, bid 3C directly or after a puppet).
Even if I'm wrong about the history, I don't see why "true puppet" is not playable. Steve Willner
The original post referred to Puppet Stayman over 2NT (not 1NT). Whether or not it's misnamed, "Puppet Stayman" over 2NT usually refers, at least in America, to a convention in which opener responds to 2NT-3C by bidding 3D with at least one 4-card major, 3H/3S with a 5-card major, 3NT with no 4-card major. Over 3D, responder with one 4-card major will bid the other one. There's no concealment value in this convention.
Apparently there are other ways to play Puppet. In fact, Richard Pavlicek's system notes describe using "Puppet Stayman" over both 1NT and 2NT, and in both cases, opener rebids diamonds with no 5-card major, which says nothing about 4-card majors. However, since the original poster did not give any details about what he meant, I assumed he was referring to the more popular Puppet Stayman convention.
I don't know whether the "original version" of Puppet Stayman was a true puppet. I have seen other structures where 2C forces 2D---Burgay's proposed method a few years ago used this 2C puppet, and also used 2D and 2H as transfers that may show just four cards in the major being transferred to. His purpose was definitely concealment of opener's hand. He didn't call it "puppet Stayman", though. Or any kind of Stayman. He was pretty emphatic about 2C *not* being Stayman. Adam Beneschan
I have also played Puppet Stayman over 1NT: same principle, ie after
2H shows spades, and 2S shows hearts.
I agree the name is not very suitable, but it is the accepted name for this, so let's live with it. David Stevenson
One of the flaws of the puppet variation where opener denies either 4 card major by bidding 3NT is it makes your hand easier to count on defence. We found this out many times. For this reason we switched to the variation where the strong hand need not explicitly deny any 4 card major.
The second flaw I remember with puppet is the inability to play garbage stayman (i.e., with a super weak, 4441 hand with club shortness, bid Stayman, planning on dropping opener in any bid.) This seems far more important over a 15-17 1NT than over a 20-21 2NT.
The advantages of puppet out-weighed these flaws (so we felt) when we played 2/1. When we switched to precision we quickly dropped puppet from our NT sequences. John D'Errico
Before I address some of the issues with puppet over 2NT openings, let me first note that it is in general a very bad convention over *other* natural 2NT calls.
For instance, puppet is a terrible convention after 2C(strong)-2D(waiting)-2NT. First of all, opener is somewhat unlikely to have a five card major, since he could have bid it cheaply. Secondly, we are very often in the slam zone and we need to be able to find 4-4 minor suit fits. Thus, even Stayman isn't so good here: Best to play 3C as Baron (asking for 4 card suits up the line), especially if the 2D response was a game force. However, Stayman is still better than puppet.
After a 2NT overcall of a weak two, puppet is a bad idea because wasting the chpeaest bid on game forcing hands reduces advancers chances of escaping to a making partscore. (In most sequences you don't worry about escaping to 3 of a suit over 2NT, but in most of those cases you know you have a reasonable number of high card points...here you might be on 15 opposite 2.)
how do you show 4-5 and 5-4 majors as responder with
I don't really want this option, in any context (well, maybe after a natural 2NT _overcall_, which tends to have a much wider range...but then I'd rather have a way to invite with a major one-suiter).
b) game forcing hands
This is a fairly important one. There are various methods that have been devised. I believe Marshall Miles has written up a rather good one (SKLAR) in his two volume book on bidding; there are others. The main problem is none of them are really suitable to pickup partnerships.
2) How to make a slam invite when major fit is found
Well, if you can agree the suit with a forcing bid (as you can over 3D), you then you do that and then cue. Over 2NT-3C-3M, a practised partnership could use the other major as a general slam try with a fit. I wouldn't expect a pickup partner to field this, because the books they've read don't mention this.
3) How do you show g.f./slam invite with long minor
Ding Ding Ding! This is why I refuse to play puppet in pickup partnerships. Thanks to Hardy's popularization of a brain-dead treatment in his 2/1 books, people think that after 2NT-3C-3D-, both 4C and 4D by responder are supposed to show 4-4 in the majors (the former with slam interest). I can't imagine a bigger waste of two bids. 4C and 4D should be natural here. Since lots of minor one-suiters have side three card majors, it's kind of natural to use puppet first. Responder's 4-4 major hands can bid 3M (pick one) over 3D and then rebid the same M over 3NT. This occasionally wrong-sides a 4M contract (note: only when responder is 4-4 and guesses wrong); but it gets you to many minor suit slams that will never be bid the other way.
Keep in mind that opener can still have a four card minor. You should discuss, for example, how many clubs responder needs for 2NT-3C-3D-4C. A good four card suit in a slam-interested hand would not be unreasonable. In that case, 2NT-3C-3D-4C-4D ought to be natural, looking for a 4-4 diamond fit in case responder is 2=3=4=4 or 3=2=4=4.
4) How do you show g.f./slam invite with 5-4 or 4-5 minors
Using 3S for this is fairly standard in the US. There are many ideas about the subsequent auction, however. Christopher Monsour
www.chrisryall.net/bridge/debates/puppetry.htm © Chris Ryall 1987-2008