Cappelletti is probably the most popular system used over 1NT openers. It is severely flawed. We introduce MONK, a superior bridge convention we think. The one major drawback to MONK is you cannot make a penalty double, but it happens rarely that you want to make that bid, and the opponents cannot scramble to some relatively safe retreat. There is more utility in assigning another meaning to 'double'.

Major Oriented Notrump Killer

Having played a weak notrump for several decades, I have encountered more disruptions to my notrump sequences than most players. Cappelletti, which is the current system of choice for most players, is easily countered and is ineffectual for a number of reasons.

  • The 2 bid showing a one-suited hand is a major flaw. It has no preemptive value and is easily countered (perhaps double for Stayman, with transfers on). When responder bids something, advancer who might otherwise be happy to compete, doesnít know overcallerís suit and cannot show support that he might have.
  • Double for penalties, even against a weak notrump, seldom gains a large penalty and a better use can be found for the bid (good run-out systems usually mitigate potential disasters).
  • The 2 bid showing both majors cannot consistently find the optimum fit for 5-4 holdings, when partner has no preference.
  • The 2 and 2 bids do not distinguish between 5-card and 6-card holdings, important for competitive Law decisions.
  • Overcaller cannot show clubs at the two-level.

MONK addresses these issues successfully. MONK focuses on the majors, which are the strongest weapons for the intervening side.  MONK permits you to (1) distinguish between two suited majors ... even 5-4 holdings, (2) balanced 5332 majors, 3) majors with 6+ length, and (4) majors with a side minor. The MONK double also puts interesting pressure on a weak responder.  

  • 2 shows both majors, 5=4 or 5=5 or better. 2 is far preferable to 2 for this purpose, since partner can bid 2 (or double a 2 by opener's partner) to show no preference, equal major suit lengths. If he has a preference he bids it. This ensures the partnership will find the best fit when overcaller is 5=4 (when partner is 3=3 he bids 2).   
  • 2 shows a 5-card major with a side 4+ minor. Responses are somewhat similar to Multi 2 responses. The partnership uses pass or correct principles, and will usually respond 2 which is pass or correct to 2. 2 is pass or correct (and shows heart interest). 2NT asks for minor-suit, 3 is preemptive in BOTH majors. Other bids are natural.
  • 2 and 2 are natural, and show 6+ cards.

That leaves hands with long minors, very strong hands, and 5332 major-suit hands. MONK uses Double to show one of those hands. Partner will usually bid 2 pass or correct, and overcaller will normally pass with clubs, bid 2 with diamonds, or bid 2/ with 5332 pattern. With a suitably strong hand, partner can convert the double to penalties. If overcaller has a very strong hand, he shows it by bidding 2NT or his suit at the 3-level. If responder bids before advancer, then any subsequent double by overcaller shows the strong hand.

The ambiguous nature of the MONK double, complicates life for a weak responder, since he cannot know with certainty when his LHO might convert to penalties. If he is very weak, he just wants out of the auction. Suppose he holds xx/QTxx/xx/JTxxx. Ideally his RHO has diamonds, and LHO is too weak to pass the double, and he wonít have to trot out the run-out routines.  But he cannot know for sure, and will often judge wrongly.