Rule of 2-4-3

Ken Rexford
Ken Rexford

Source: Lima DBC Newsletter, March 2010 por Ken and Leah Rexford

 Partner opens in a major, you have support, and you love your hand so much that slam is being considered. How do you share this great news? Suppose that your partner opens 1, and you are looking at this hand:

KQx xx AQxxx

This is a nice collection. 15 HCP, a source of tricks in clubs, and even a doubleton heart for 16 total points (at least). This
has great prospects. You want partner to know about your clubs, of course, so you respond 2. Partner next rebids 2. What now?

This is where the Rule of “2-4-3” helps. “What is the Rule of 2-4-3?” you may be asking? When you make a two-level response to partner’s opening major bid, your choices for raising partner at your next bid are “ranked” in strength by the 2-4-3 scale:

2 = worst hand. You still have your 10+ HCP, but this is

PASSABLE. Partner can pass with a minimum, or invite back.

4 = next-best hand. You have enough for game (about 13 points), but not much else. Let’s hope this makes!

3 = POWER raise. With the 2-4-3 approach, the three-level raise is the POWER raise with at least mild slam interest.

 So, with this hand (the 16-count example hand), your call would be the Power 3, which is FORCING to game and shows
SLAM INTEREST. What will partner do after this POWER raise? If he has the typical hand Ken usually has, he will bid 4, and hopefully this makes (even opposite Leah’s slam-interested hand)! But, if Opener also has a nice hand, maybe a few “cuebids” will help fill in the picture. 

A “cuebid” is a new suit bid after we have already agreed on a trump fit, with the new suit bid simply showing a “control,” meaning an Ace or King or singleton or void, meaning something that will “control” the suit.  Responder has slam interest, as we saw, but she is fairly certain that the opponents would defeat our slam (even if  we have 33 HCP) if they can cash the Ace and King of hearts, right? So, Responder wants to know about “control” of that heart suit.

What might happen, then?

Well, suppose you have just bid this POWER three-level raise (2-4-3 style) and Opener, with some slam interest himself, bids 4, showing slam interest and a club control (because you are looking at the club Ace, partner must have the King or shortness, either of which is OK). You can now bid 4, showing a diamond control (you have the Ace) and waiting to see if partner has a heart control.

 Remember, you had: 

KQx xx Axx AQxxx 

If partner bids 4, showing a heart control, then he might have this hand:

 AJxxx Ax Kxxx Kx

 Opposite that hand, 12 tricks seem easy (11 top tricks, and surely one more from clubs eventually). Ask for Aces to be sure, and then bid that 30-HCP slam. Well bid! 

What if partner, however, has this hand:


 Now, he will not bid 4, because he does NOT have a heart CONTROL. Instead, he will bid 4 because he already showed
slam interest (he did not sign off  immediately when you bid the “2-4-3” POWER 3) but lacks a heart control. You will pass, “missing” the 33-point slam that FAILS when the opponents cash the Ace and King of hearts on the opening lead!!! Again, great bidding! 

So, remember the Rule of 2-4-3:

Two is passable,

Four is game, but

Three is the POWER raise.