Back in our game’s early years, the experts of the day emphasized «sound values» in bidding. Opening notrumps were 16-18 points, jump shifts were 19+, and preempts always followed the rule of two and three. Every bid seemed to promise «two bull elephants backed up in the garage» (as one of our local rubber-bridge players used to say).
Today’s players like to bid higher and more often than Culbertson, Goren and the other bridge pioneers. As a result, modern bidding has embraced lower minimums for many standard bids and conventions.
One of the bids that has undergone this reverse inflation is the strong two-bid. It doesn’t «cost» nearly as much to make one today as it did forty (or even twenty) years ago, when it virtually guaranteed game. Back then, Goren recommended a minimum of 25 high-card points with a good 5-card major, 23 points with a 6-carder, and 21 points with a 7-carder. In a minor suit, two points more were required.
Today, most players have switched to a strong-and-artificial 2C, and they open it with somewhat less than Goren recommended. Some even stretch the limits to include any hand with 8 to 9 playing tricks.
I still remember a long-ago club game where one player opened a strong 2C with:
5 AQJ10987542 6 8.
In the mayhem that ensued (his opponents had missed a slam), he defended his bid with some creative arithmetic: adding in distribution and 2 points for each card after the fourth in his suit, he counted 25 playing points. He was also quick to quote all the old rules-«I have 9 playing tricks, I don’t have two quick losers in any suit, I want to force to game …»
If you use a playing-tricks-only definition like this one, your 2C openers may encompass weak, distributional freaks like the hand above. However, it’s a marked deviation from what most players consider a «standard» 2C opener-and what experts recommend.
Put your hand to the test
So what type of hand should you have for a strong 2C? Click here to continue reading.