||World Champion & Master Teacher
Tips with Donna
Stayman & Ugly Duckling Shape...
We have previously discussed that the Ugly Duckling shape (4-3-3-3) takes less tricks because there is only one 4-card suit in which to take a trick through long-suit development. For this reason, we downgrade the ugly duckling shape when determining whether to accept or decline a borderline invitational bid.
For example, you open 1NT holding a 16 HCPs Ugly Duckling hand and partner bids 2NT showing 8-9 points and inviting you to bid 3NT. Well, you generally accept with 17 HCPs and decline with 15 HCPs. However, take a look at the shape when holding 16 HCPs. Since the Ugly Duckling shape lacks extra tricks through long-suit development, you would decline the invitation. With the thumbs-up (4-4-3-2) shape, you would accept the invitational 2NT bid and bid game.
The Ugly Duckling shape also affects the Stayman Convention. Partner opens 1NT showing 15-17 total points and a balanced hand (at least two cards in every suit) and you hold the Ugly Duckling shape including a 4-card major with 8+ points. With 8 points ~ downgrade and pass! With 9 or 10 HCPs ~ bid 2NT and with 11-15 HCPs ~ bid 3NT. In other words, do not use the Stayman convention when holding an Ugly Duckling shape!
Ugly Duckling Shape = No Stayman!
Let's take a look at the logic to help us remember this equation. Stayman was created to help the partnership find the 4-4 major fit and avoid a bad 3NT contract. The idea is that when playing in a 4-4 trump fit, the hands will create extra tricks through trumping.
In our discussion, partner opens 1NT and therefore holds three potential shapes ~
5-3-3-2, 4-4-3-2 and 4-3-3-3. Partner holds only one doubleton and possibly no doubleton. As responder, you are holding the Ugly Duckling shape ~ 4-3-3-3. Are you seeing the issue? At most, you and your partner hold one doubleton between the two hands. The trumping values are greatly diminished; and therefore, the benefits of the Stayman Convention no longer exists. To restate the bottom line: when holding a 4-card major and the Ugly Duckling shape, do not use the Stayman Convention!
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