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6 English Bridge February 2018 www.ebu.co.uk

Strong Opening Bids

ACOLytes - Know the Basics by Sarah Bell

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ast time we looked at weak 2 openings:

opening bids of 2t, 2™ and 2´ showing less

than an opening bid and a six card suit. This

time we will start to look at the rather more exciting

strong opening bids, starting with the 2NT opening.

Opening 2NT shows 20-22 points and a balanced

or, potentially, semi-balanced hand. A 2NT opening

is not forcing: partner can pass it if they have utter

garbage, or opt to play in three of a major if you are

playing transfers and they have a very weak hand

with a five card heart or spade suit.

Opening 2NT is a little different to opening 1NT

in the sense that there is slightly more flexibility in

what sorts of hands you treat as balanced. You will

pick up plenty of semi-balanced hands with about

20 points and find that if you bid your shape out

you are never able to get your strength across and

are left guessing later in the auction. It is also often

important that you declare the hand rather than

your partner because you want the opening lead to

come round into the strong hand, not go through it.

I will open 2NT with a balanced hand with a five

card major or a semi-balanced hand without one.

Do bear in mind, however, that a long suit improves

a hand's playing strength, so you may need to

upgrade accordingly: you should not open 2NT

with a 22 count and a 6-card suit as this hand is too

strong.

Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3

´ K J 8 ´ A J ´ K Q J 7 5 4

™ Q J 10 7 3 ™ K Q 3 ™ A Q

t A K t A K J 8 7 3 t A J 10

® A Q 4 ® Q 10 ® K J

Hand 4 Hand 5

´ 9 6 3 ´ K Q J 7 6

™ A K Q J ™ K 5

t K Q t A Q J 5

® A Q J 5 ® A 3

Hands 1 and 4 are clear 2NT openers: they have 2022

points and are balanced. I would also open 2NT

on hand 2. There is no perfect way to bid hand 3 but

most expert Acol players would open 1´ and rebid

3t. This is a slight lie as you should be 5-4 but with

four diamonds partner will often still try to play in

3NT, which is fine, and they will often mention

2-card spade support over 3t if they do not have a

suitable hand to bid 3NT (with 5-9 points and three

spades they would have responded 2´ so bidding

3´ over 3t does not promise three). With hand 5 I

would open 1´, planning to rebid 3t to show 18+

points and at least 5-4 shape. If my spades and

diamonds were the other way round, however, I

would open 2NT because it's less likely to be right to

show my five card diamond suit than it is my five

card spade suit on the deal that I have given.

RESPONDING TO 2NT

People play a lot of different methods over a 2NT

opening but I am going to keep it simple. As ever,

you should start by deciding whether you are likely

to belong in part score, game or slam. There aren't

very many bids between 2NT and game so you can't

invite partner to game after a 2NT opening.

The content of ACOLytes may occasionally differ

from Bridge for All teaching materials produced by

EBED, and the author may make some changes

according to personal teaching style. Bridge for All

teaching and practice books can be purchased from

www.ebu.co.uk/shop/bridge-books

Bridge for All & ACOLytes

A SEMI-BALANCED HAND

You can open 2NT with a semi-balanced

hand, such as 5·4·2·2 or 6·3·2·2.

Have a look at the following hands and decide if

you think they are suitable for a 2NT opening:

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