Page 0006

6 English Bridge June 2019 www.ebu.co.uk

Responding to the 2® opening

ACOLytes - Know the Basics by Sarah Bell

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L

ast issue we looked at what a 2® opening

meant and how you might decide whether or

not it is the right opening bid. This time we

are going to think about what you should do when

partner opens 2®. As I mentioned in the last issue

there are several common and sensible sets of

responses that you can play, so I will suggest

something simple and effective but you shouldn't

worry if you already play something else.

A problem with the 2® opening is that it takes up

a lot of space, so responder should usually not start

making big bids over 2®, as this will make it

difficult for the strong hand to describe itself. If you

don't have anything that you are really desperate to

tell partner about you should try to let them

describe their hand to you, while taking as little

space away from them as possible. The bid that

takes up the least space is the next one up: 2t. It

thus stands to reason that you should bid 2t on

most hands when partner opens 2®. A 2t response

in this context doesn't say a great deal about your

hand. It is often referred to as a waiting bid because

it tells partner 'I am happy to wait for you to tell me

what you have'. This is its only meaning: it does not

promise diamonds.

However, you do have some other options over

2®. The most obvious of these is that you can bid

your own suit: 2™/´ or 3®/t. It is commonly said

that this shows a good suit and 8+ points: a positive

response. I think that this definition is broadly

good, although I would say that you can make a

positive response to 2® with a good suit and a hand

that has some interest in slam opposite a balanced

23 count. It is important that you have a good suit

because partner will often be unbalanced and it is

helpful in those cases for them to know where the

majority of your points are. A 2™ bid is not helpful to

partner if it might be bid on:

´Axx ™xxxxxx tAx ®xx or

´xxx ™AKJxxx txx ®xx

How would partner evaluate their heart holding if

you later agree a different suit? Opener will also

often have a good suit themselves so you don't want

to suggest an alternative trump suit if your holding

is very weak.

I wrote earlier about conserving space and I'm

sure that it will not have escaped your notice that a

3®/t bid consumes more space than a 2™/´ bid.

This means that it 'costs' more to bid 3®/t than

2™/´, so you should have a longer suit in order to

bid it. A bid of 3®/t promises a good 6-card suit,

while you can bid 2™/´ with a good 5-card major.

The other positive response that people make

with some frequency is 2NT, which is commonly

played as balanced with 8+ points. I actually really

dislike this because I feel that bidding 2NT wrongsides the contract

a lot of the time (you usually

want the stronger hand to declare and NT is quite a

likely final strain). It is also - you guessed it - quite

space-consuming. I personally respond 2t on the

vast majority of hands, even if I have some points,

because my experience is that it usually isn't too

hard to convince partner that I am interested in

slam later, if this seems like a good idea.

Have a look at these hands and decide what you

would respond if your partner opened 2®:

Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3

´ K J 9 7 ´ K Q J 8 7 ´ J 10 9 7 6 3 2

™ A 7 4 3 2 ™ 9 6 2 ™ K 8 7

t 4 t K 9 2 t -

® 8 5 4 ® 8 6 ® 6 3 2

Hand 4 Hand 5

´ 7 5 ´ 9 8 6

™ 6 4 2 ™ Q

t A K Q 9 8 t J 5 4

® J 7 6 ® A K 10 9 8 3

Hand 1 - I would respond 2t on hand 1 because,

although I have the values to make a positive

response, my heart suit is not good enough to bid

at this stage. Having bid 2t I will bid my hearts

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