Using a 2 Diamond response to 2 Clubs to show values

Mike Lawrence

The great majority of players use an opening 2 bid to show a good hand. There are problems with this method, however, and most of them revolve around the responses to 2.

The most common treatment for responses is to bid a good suit if you have one and to bid 2 otherwise. Using this general structure, you bid 2 0n 0 point hands up to 15- 16-point hands. Usually the best hand you will see is in the 11-point range, and it will be fairly rare.

As an aside, I suggest that you do not respond with 2NT. All it does is steal a round of bidding from opener, who may need … much bidding room as possible.

There are authors who claim that with fair hands you should show a 5-card suit even if it is as weak  as five to the queen. Other authors feel that you should have two of the top three honors. My preference is to bid 2 on virtually all hands, giving opener room to show what his intentions are.

No matter what your agreements, you will have some problems. Here is just one of them. Partner opens 2 and you have this decent hand: 84 42 Q854 AJ985.

What is your bid? If you play that 3 shows a better club suit, you cannot bid 3. Usually you bid 2 and hope for a solution to appear later. Sometimes it does. But what if partner rebids 2 , showing a good hand with hearts?

A little voice chirps that this would be a good time to bid 3. That sounds logical, but there is a c0nvention that many players use that get in the way of a natural 3 bid. They play that a 3 bid on the second round (when opener rebids two of a major) says that you have a very bad hand with no interest in anything at all.

Using this convention, you would bid 3 with a hand such as: J983 32 107653 83.

If you play that a 3 rebid shows this hand, then you cannot also play that 3 shows a club suit

Is there an answer?

Here is a  treatment that is gaining popularity, albeit slowly: Play that 2 response to 2 promise a few high card points. A good 4 HCP is acceptable.

The negative 2 response

Play that a 2 response to 2 shows a dreadful hand. Three points is the maximum you can have. If you play this way, you do not have to tie up a bid on the next round of the bidding to show a bad hand because you have already promised nothing.

Some examples:

North   South
K 5 3
5 4 2
K 10 7 6 5 2
  A K Q 10 3
A 8
K 3
A Q J 9
2   2
3   ?

South opens 2 showing a big hand. North’s 2 response shows a few values. Typically North promises 4 or more HCP. South bids 2, showing his suit. Normal so far. North’s 3 bid shows clubs. Because North showed a few points
with his 2 bid, North knows that he is getting his hand across to South. At this point South can ask for aces and when he finds one key card, can bid 6.

Using standard 2 methods, North would respond with the omnibus 2 bid and South would show his spade suit. North has a problem. A 3 bid would imply a bad hand and say nothing about clubs, while 2NT would risk: playing the contract from the wrong side .

North   South
K 8 2
A Q J 7
K Q 5
  7 6 3
J 10 9 7 6 3
4 3
J 4
2   2
2NT   4
4   Pass

South has too few points to bid 2, so he bids 2, which tells North that South is broke. North finishes his description by bidding 2NT. South wants to play in hearts. He can do this in two ways. He can bid 3, transferring to hearts, or he can bid 4, transferring to hearts. The reason that transfers are used here is that South needs a way to transfer to spades. South bid hearts and will, of course, declare a heart contract, but there is no reason not to use transfers.

This sequence shows one of the bad things that can happen if you use this convention. On this deal South turns out to be declarer, which may not always be best for the declaring side.