3NT is the lowest game bid, for 9 tricks in notrump. Most typically, 3NT is a sign off. Rarely it is artificial and forcing.
As an opening
Main article: /opening
- 3NT openings may be natural, typically showing 25-27 high card points. Stayman and transfers are typically used in the same way over 1NT or 2NT.
- Often 3NT openings are gambling, based on a long (7 card) solid minor. It may be strong, intermediate or weak based on agreement.
As a response to partner's major suit opening
A 3NT response should always show game-forcing strength, for obvious reasons.
- 3NT is sometimes used as a balanced forcing raise to a major suit opening, showing four-card trump support, 13-16 points, and no splinters.
- This treatment is most common when 2NT is an unlimited response, rather than, e.g. Jacoby 2NT.
As a response to partner's minor suit opening
- After a minor suit, 3NT shows a strong balanced hand uninterested in showing fit. The point ranges for notrump responses to minor suit openings vary widely. 3NT may show as little as 13-15 and as much as 19-21.
As a response to partner's notrump opening
- After 1NT, 3NT shows enough points for game (10-15 if 1NT shows 15-17, otherwise adjust accordingly) and a balanced hand. This is a sign off, and should be avoided with slam interest.
- After 2NT, 3NT shows 5-10 points (assuming 20-22 point opening) and a balanced hand. This is a sign off and should be avoided with slam interest.