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Responses to Strong 2 Clubs Opening Bid

Responses to Strong 2 Opening Bid (Apr/May 2011)

You’re playing 2-opener is strong and artificial with no other understandings other than cheapest minor is second negative. What is the weakest hand/suit that you would have to respond 2? What is the weakest hand/suit that you would have to respond 3

If Opener opens 2 and then rebids 2 over a forced 2 bid, he has no idea whether he can make a partscore, game, slam or grand slam. This means that Responder, who has the weaker of the two hands, has to make the final decision on how high to go. My thoughts are that if Responder tells Opener right away that he has a positive response, Opener can better help with the final level decision. 

It’s true that if partner is going to rebid 2NT, you want to bid 2 on all hands, because Responder will have complete control of the auction. However, if Opener has a balanced 24 or more HCP, he has to jump to 3NT to show his hand, which would mess up the Stayman/Transfer auction. If he has more than 27 HCP, he has to jump to 4NT. Try asking for a four-card major over 4NT. 

The Kokish convention was invented to avoid the jump to 3NT or higher. After 2 – Pass- 2, Opener bids 2, which is a two-way bid. Responder must bid 2 to ask why Opener bid 2. If Opener then bids 2NT, he shows a game-forcing balanced hand anywhere from a very good 24 HCP to a bad 32 HCP. Over the forcing 2NT, Responder can then bid Stayman, transfers, or any other convention to explore. If Opener has a natural 2 opener, he makes any bid other than 2NT. If Opener has AKxAKQJAKxQxx he opens 2. Over 2, he rebids 2, which forces Responder to bid 2. Opener now bids 2NT, which is game forcing. Suppose Responder holds xxxxxxxxxxxxx. Responder can bid Stayman over 2NT, find the 4-4 heart fit and play in 4 which will usually make. If Opener has AAKJ10xAKJxxxx, he rebids 2. Over the forced 2, Opener bids 3 which makes the 2 bid natural. Opener is showing hearts and diamonds. Opener could also have AQAKxxxxKxxAx. After 2 — 2 –2— 2 Opener jumps to 3NT, which shows a heart suit and gives Responder a choice between 4 and 3NT. Only a 2NT rebid shows the balanced game-forcing hand. 

Opener could have a suited hand for instance, AKQJxAQxAQJxx. The auction starts 2 — 2 — 2 assuming Responder always bids 2. If Responder now bids 3, does he have xx98xxxxxxKxx where 4 is in danger or does he have xxKJ10xxKxxxxx where 6 is cold? By bidding 2 directly over 2 with the second hand, Opener knows right away that this could be a slam hand. If Responder always bids 2, Responder will have to make the final decision on how high to go. 

Suppose Responder has a positive response with a minor suit, xxxxAKxQJ10xxx for instance. After 2 — 2 — 2, most play 3 is the second negative. So you have to bid 3 with xxxxxxxxQxxxx and the above hand. So if you have a club suit, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Best is to be able to bid 3 directly over 2

There are some experts who always respond 2

Henry Bethe—In general I do not respond anything other than 2 as I find it is a bad idea to get in opener’s way in describing the strong hand. This is particularly true playing Kokish, as I do. I also play that the cheapest BID, not the cheaper minor, is negative; again it is to leave opener maximum room for description. It is far more efficient for the auction to go 2 — 2 — 2 — 2 — 3 than for responder to bid 3 over 2 and opener raises to 4. Another reason for this is that 2NT rebids constitute, in my experience, about 50% of all 2 openers, and responding two-of-a-major prevents transferring with the advantages that provides. Having said that, it is my belief that responding two-of-a-major should show a slam playable suit opposite high honor doubleton with at least one outside high card that may need protection or a sufficiently freakish hand that you want to start describing it right away. 

If 2NT rebids constitute 50% of all 2 openers, if my arithmetic is correct, then non-2NT rebids constitute 50% of all 2 openers. 

Mike Lawrence—I am really unhappy with…Click Here to continue reading


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