Thursday, August 18, 2016

Weak Response to Strong 2 Club opening bid





Here’s a hand that came up recently. Dealer opened 2C and her partner held:

♠ T86532
♥ 3
♦ JT73
♣ 74

Here was the bidding:


West
North
East
South


2C
P
2D
P
2H
P
?








You have a six card spade suit. What do you call?

There are several ways that players use to respond when partner makes a strong two club opening bid. One is to use a bid of two hearts to show a weak hand with no aces or kings and no more than four points. In my judgment using a major, which will be trump at least 20% of the time, to show a woefully weak hand, is ill-advised.

In accordance with my belief that standard bidding is the best, I use the “cheaper minor” to show a weak hand, with the automatic response of two diamonds as a waiting bid. If opener responds with two hearts or two spades, a rebid by responder of three clubs shows an extraordinarily weak hand. Any other call by responder shows five HCP or more.

In this hand the responder, an experienced player, bid 2S. Here was opener’s hand:

♠ AK
♥ AKQT72
♦ A
♣ KJ82

With 24 HCP, Opener got excited, appropriately thinking that her partner had much more than 4 HCP, and they ended up in 6S, which was down 2.

The answer to the bidding question is that Responder’s first obligation is to describe the strength of her hand. With one point, Responder should respond 3C, cheaper minor, showing 4 HCP or less.

That raises the question as to how long Responder must keep the bidding open. While a 2C open is generally forcing to game, Opener’s rebid of 2N after partner’s 2D response may be passed because opener has limited her hand. If Responder has less than 4 HCP, she may pass.

But some people also play that after a cheaper minor response by Responder, Opener’s rebid of 3 of her major that she bid at the two level may be passed. It’s up to Opener to force game by bidding a new suit at that point or just jumping to game in her major. I favor this treatment. However, please note that if opener bids 2N, Responder’s response of 3C is not cheaper minor, it is Stayman.

Here’s how the bidding would progress from the opening bid under the treatment just mentioned:


West
North
East
South


2C
P
2D
P
2H
P
3C
P
3H
P
P
P



But if you play that 2C is unconditionally forcing to game for any rebid other than 2N, here’s how the above bidding should proceed:

West
North
East
South


2C
P
2D
P
2H
P
3C
P
3H
P
3S
P
4S
All Pass


If Responder had two cards in Opener’s suit, she should bid 4H. But with the singleton she has in this hand, Responder may also take this opportunity to inform Opener that she has a weak six card spade suit (with a 5 card or longer spade suit and 2 of the top 3 honors, she would respond 2S to the 2C opener). But with a singleton and a weak six card spade suit, it’s reasonable to mention the long spades, and she may do so because she has already told Opener she has a weak hand and her bid of spades should promise six. Opener knows Responder is weak because a) she didn’t respond spades first, and b) she showed 4 HCP or less with her cheaper minor rebid. If Opener does not like the spade suit she can rebid her hearts at the four level or bid 3N, which is unlikely given the shape of her hand.

Here’s the four hand layout:

East dealer, EW vulnerable:

          North
           ♠ Q
          ♥ 64
          K8542
          ♣ Q9653
West            East
♠ T86532      ♠ AK
♥  3             ♥ AKQ762
♦  JT73         ♦ A
♣ 74             ♣ KJ82
          South
           ♠ J974
           ♥ J985
           ♦ Q96
           ♣ AT


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