G A M B L I N G   T H R E E   N O T R U M P
Seven or More Tricks in a Solid Minor Suit

A Lot of Tricks in a Long Suit!
Wow!  If your partner has one trick you can make 3NT...  Providing they don't take the first five or more tricks.

This is exactly the sort of hand the Gambling 3NT bid was devised for.  This is not a new idea, but has been part of the British ACOL system for years and years, but the Brits require stoppers on the outside, unlike modern American players who often say, "Nothing Outside."  Interestingly, Eddie Kantar says you should play this with any solid suit, not just a minor, but few Americans use that agreement.

So what's wrong with this convention?  It's this:  It's always played from the wrong side.  Your partner should be the declarer.  Sure, I know, those of you who play it say you have had some great successes with the bid, but I know you also have had some absolute disasters as well, and so do you.

Below is an example of what the full hand might look like.

The gamble is that if you do not get a spade lead you will take 11 tricks from your side.  However, if your partner plays the contract he really wants a spade lead for a guarantee of 12 tricks.  There's no gamble for 11 tricks if your partner is the declarer.

Take the Gamble Out!
First, a short discussion of preemptive bidding... the purpose of a preempt is to make it difficult for the oppenents to either find the right suit or to find the right level.  The hand below is one that many players would open 3 in hopes that the opponents go wrong, since they obviously have a either a spade or heart fit, and possibly a fit in both.  However, a 3-level preempt still leaves the rest of the 3-level open for them to probe for the best contract.  A 4-level preempt is more effective but runs the risk of preempting partner, who might otherwise have wanted to play 3NT.

Here's a suggestion to solve both problems presented:
  • Open a solid minor with a 3-level bid and if partner wants to bid 3NT he will be playing from the correct side
  • Open 3NT with a broken minor - Now the opponents have to start at the 4-level to find their contract
If you bid 3NT your partner can either pass or he can bid 4, which you would correct with diamonds.

If you would like a more complete explanation of the Gambling Three Notrump agreement try:  

Roy Wilson