Puppet Stayman

What’s It All About, Alfie?

Puppet Stayman is designed to discover whether a NT opening bid includes a ________ card major.

Puppet Stayman over 2NT Opening

(Note, you also use this in auctions where the opener starts with 2C and rebids 2NT.)

The Puppet Stayman inquiry bid is 3C (no alert required).  Opener’s responses are alertable, however:

  • 3NT denies having a _____ card or longer major.
  • 3H or 3S shows a ______ card major.
  • 3D promises at least one _______ card major.  Responder’s continuations:
    • 3H:  “I have 4 ________ and I don’t have 4 ________ .”
    • 3S:  “I have 4 ________ and I don’t have 4 ________ .”
    • 3NT: “I don’t have a ______ card major, I was just looking for a 5-3 fit.”
    • 4C:  Gerber, usually denying having a ______ card major.
    • 4D: “I have ________ majors, you pick!”

The reason we use 3H, 3S, and 4D by the responder the way we do is to keep the NT opener as the declarer.

Puppet Stayman over 1NT Opening


The easiest way to incorporate Puppet Stayman over 1NT is to make 3C your Puppet Stayman inquiry bid.  (This is alertable).  Responder needs to have a game forcing hand for this, ideally something like 4-3 in the majors.  Opener’s responses and responder’s continuations are exactly as above.


(Included here for reference, but I won’t go into detail on this in the lesson.)

An alternative is to make your 2C response to 1NT into Puppet Stayman.  This can be a bit complicated, but it works like this.  After 1NT by opener, responder’s two level bids change somewhat:

  • 2C: Puppet Stayman inquiry bid.
  • 2D, 2H: Transfers
  • 2S: “Two Spades for Size” (alertable)
    • Responder has one of two types of hand:
      • Invitational in NT with no interest in a major suit fit.
      • Minor suit bust hand.
    • Opener bids 2NT (alertable) with a minimum 1NT opener, 3C (alertable) with a maximum.
      • Responder passes the 2NT response with a hand that was inviting a NT game.
      • Responder bids 3 of a minor over 2NT to show a bust hand with 6 cards in that minor.  This is to play.
      • Responder passes the 3C response with a club bust.
      • Responder bids 3D over 3C with a diamond bust.
  • 2NT (alertable): 4-4 in the majors, game forcing.  Opener places the contract.

After the 2C inquiry, opener’s responses are a bit different from the basic version:

  • 2H and 2S promise 5 cards in that major.
  • 2D (alertable) denies a 5 card major but may contain a 4 card major.  Responder’s continuations:
    • 2H, 2S (alertable):  “I have 4 cards in this major but not 4 in the other.”
    • 2NT (alertable):  “I have 4-4 in the majors with game invitational values.  You place the contract!”
    • Pass:  “I have a Garbage Stayman hand short in clubs and am trying to find a playable partial.”