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District 6
Shawn Stringer, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Aug/SepArticle by Steve RobinsonDec/Jan
Articles1 Pass 2 (Oct/Nov 2008)
I asked my experts the following: “You're playing with me and we're playing two over one and 15-17 notrump openers. We haven't discussed 1 - pass - 2. How much would you have to add to AJxx????Kxxxx? to respond 2 instead of 1 to my 1-opener? If you responded 2, what would you expect me to have if I rebid 2? Do you have some simple understandings after 1 - pass - 2?”

1 - 2 is one the most difficult sequences in standard bidding. 1 - 2 is one sequence that you have to discuss with your partner. Half the experts play that a 2 rebid shows five diamonds and half play that it denies five diamonds. I think that unless you have at least 15 HCP, you should respond 1. This will avoid most of the 1 - 2 problems. Suppose you have AJxxxxKxAJxxx and you respond 1. If partner bids 2, you can bid 4 and the opponents will be in the dark about your hand. If partner rebids 1NT, you can bid 3NT.

The following experts promise five diamonds when they reverse into 2. If 1 - 1 - 2 shows five or more diamonds, why shouldn’t 1 - 2 - 2 show the same distribution? I don’t mind treating xxxAKJxAQxxxx as diamonds and hearts.

Henry Bethe---I cannot answer your basic question without knowing the opening bid style: Are minor suit openings hands Roth would have opened? Or do we open light, rule of 20 with distributional hands? I use the rule of 21, and generally insist on 1 1/2 quick tricks as well. Given that I guess my minimum to bid 2 would be a good 12 HCP, my rebid structure is
a) balanced hands bid 2NT
b) 2, 2 show four and at least five diamonds and a sound opening bid
c) 3 almost always show four clubs
d) 3, 3 are splinters showing shortness with club support
e) 3 shows very good diamonds: a one or zero loser suit opposite two small; does not show extras.
f) 2 is catchall, and may have only four diamonds.

Drew Casen---If I judged my hand to be game force, I would ALWAYS start with 2 rather than 1. Any hand that contains 13 HCP or a good 12 HCP for me is a game force. After 1 - 2, I would rebid 2 with six or more diamonds, two-of-a-major with five diamonds and four of the major, 2NT with any other hand including a four-card major including 4-4-4-1 pattern. I would raise clubs with four trumps or with three trumps if I had a small doubleton or singleton somewhere else. I would rebid 3 only with solid diamonds or a one-loser suit and extra values. I would NEVER rebid 3NT over 2 unless it showed exactly some hand by agreement.

Jumping to 3NT makes it difficult for responder to describe his hand.

Kit Woolsey---I would expect four hearts and at least five diamonds. With a balanced hand, you should rebid 2NT. I guess you could be 4-4-4-1. Playing Precision with Fred Stewart, opener always rebids 2 with at least five diamonds regardless of his major holding. A two-of-a-major call by opener shows a four-card major holding, but doesn't say anything else except that he doesn't have five diamonds. Opener usually won't bypass a major to bid 2NT, but he can if it looks right.

Playing Precision where the diamond opener is random, opener has to show a real diamond suit.

Billy Eisenberg---I play that 2 doesn’t deny a four-card major. An attractive game force would do, AQxxKxxxAJ10xx etc. I would reverse with xxxKQJxAKJxxx. The responder must plan to introduce his major, or distort. Matchpoints would be slightly different.

Chip Martel---An ace or a KQ would be enough to bid 2. 2 would show 4-5 in the reds and some extras. I play 2 as a GF, 1 - 3 is invitational with at least six clubs, 1 - 2 could be an invitational notrump hand. Rebids other than 2 and 2 are natural and show extras since I play weak NT. 1 - 2 - 2 could be a minimum 4-4-4-1 with 2 asking for further description.

The exception to 2 showing five diamonds is when you are 4-4-4-1.

A neat convention is a 1 - 2 shows either a strong jump shift in hearts or an 11-12 balanced hand. Opener bids 2 to ask for clarification. This allows 1 - 2N to show 13-15 or 18+ balanced hand.


Barry Rigal---My personal style is unusual here but I'll give it you anyway. I like a rebid of 2 to be five or more diamonds and may have a four-card major with a dead minimum. A rebid of 2/2 shows reverse shape and not dead minimum I might have as little as xxAQxxAQxxxQx. With spades and clubs switched I might bid 2. So my problem hands are 2-4-4-3 hands with three clubs and a small doubleton in side suit. With 12-14. and xxQxxxAQxxAxx , I might bid 3 or 2. That said, as responder I'll bid 1 instead of 2 if a 4-3 fit might be right even with game-forcing values. KQ10xxxAxAJxxx looks like 1, but Q10xxKxAxAJxxx looks like 2. AJxxAxxxKxxxx is a 2 response. AJxxKxxxKxxxx is a 1 response.

I would bid 1 with all of the above examples.

Jon Wittes---Ross and I play 1 - 2 is 100% game forcing, so we would have to have a full opening bid to respond 2 to 1. The minimum for such a bid holding four spades might be something like AJxxxxxxAQ10xx. We also play 2 over 2 by opener is not a full reverse, but our understanding is that we would not make that bid on a dead minimum.

One expert agrees with me and avoids 2 over 1.

Eddie Wold---Although I used to always bid 2 with a five-card suit and only a four-card major, I now think it is better to respond in the major unless responder has 16+ HCP or a six-card suit. As opener, I rebid 2 with five or more diamonds, two-of-a-major is usually weak in the other major or a singleton club, and 2NT promises at least two clubs.

Eric Greco---With the hand given I would respond 2 with any 13 count or better. The key is the spade holding of AJxx rather than KQxx. That holding makes 6 much more likely to be a good contract. So with at least five reasonable clubs say Qxxxx or better. I would respond 2 with that spade holding. If you bid 2 I would expect an unbalanced hand with at least a good minimum say around 14 points or so. If you are balanced you either bid 2NT regardless of stoppers or raise clubs.

Some experts expect extra values for a 2 response.

Bobby Wolff---I would have to add either an Ace or a King + a Queen for me to respond 2 rather than 1. I would expect you to have a better than minimum (but not much more) to rebid 2 instead of 2, e.g. 2 with KxAQJxA109xxxQ or with xxAQJxA109xxKx, but not with xxAQJxAxxxxQx or certainly xxxAQxxAxxxKx, but with xxAQxxAJxxQ10x I'd rebid 3. My favorite system is not two over one, but rather old fashioned Acol with a few more forcing bids, but all very natural bidding. Perhaps a key difference is that a 2NT rebid after a two-over-one response is non-forcing.

Frank Stewart---I would need enough to commit to game, depending on partner's opening-bid style. I’d expect you to have extra values to rebid 2.

David Bird---Any hand with four points more is presumably worth forcing to game on. On all such hands I would bid the clubs before the spades. Only if I were intending to make a limit bid on the next round, or to sign off, would I bid the spades first. It is important to show the relative lengths of the suits. It’s nonsense to bid 1 - 1, 2 - 3 without five spades. I would expect 2 to show extras, on the basis that with a minimum 4-5 or 4-6 hand you could rebid 2 and wait for me to bid the hearts.

Some experts play that 2 denies five or more diamonds.

Marty Bergen---I would need at least 14 HCP to respond 2. I play 2 shows no extras, but denies five diamonds.

Ralph Katz---With clubs so bad it would need to be Ax - Kx. With weaker clubs, I would just bid 1 since I don't know what we play. It is a wide variety anywhere from a mini with four hearts and not five diamonds or four hearts and at least five diamonds and a good hand.

Larry Cohen---I would add enough to make responder have an opening bid. Always prefer to get into the two-over-one game-forcing auction with five clubs and four spades, rather than respond 1 and have to worry about using fourth suit forcing. I would expect you to have discussed this with me. Some people play it as extras, others as "just bidding out the hand." There is no "standard" -- which is why it requires discussion. With David Berkowitz, we play it is natural, no extras promised, and it denies five or more diamonds. This, of course, is just one way to play it. Our actual agreement is irrelevant as to how it SHOULD be played.

David Berkowitz---As I play a light opening bid style, I need a full opener to bid 2 perhaps AJ10xAxxxK109xx would be a minimum, lacking either black ten I would bid 1. If you bid 2, I would not expect extra values; perhaps xxxAKJxA10xxxx would be fine. Below 3NT my priority is always to look for the best game. My simple rule is that if you do not bid 2 you do not have five diamonds. Also 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 does not necessarily show four spades (maybe AKxxxxAJ10xxxx. And 1 - 2 - 2NT denies a four-card major, so responder’s three-of-a-major is shortness.

Berkowitz and Cohen play Precision where the diamond opener is undefined.

Adam Wildavsky---I'd assume it's completely game forcing, so I'd need another ace or so to respond 2. I use strong notrump with Michael Polowan. We play 2 as a 100% GF, 3 as invitational, and use an artificial 2 response for invitational balanced hands with no four-card major.

Larry Mori---I would have a working 13 count that would make it game-forcing. If 4-2-2-5 then KJ in one of the doubletons would be minimum a 13-count with suits with no texture. This is based on a relatively sound 1 opener. 2 does not show anything extra. I bid 2 with five or more diamonds unless 3-3-5-2 with stoppers in the majors. 2 shows stoppers in that suit. It could be 2-4-4-3. If I bid 2 and responder bids 2NT, then it is up to opener to find the 4-4 major-suit fit by bidding it at the three-level. With 2-4-5-2 I can bid 2 and I would bid the hearts the next time. With 2 promising at least five diamonds I do not miss 5-3 diamond fits when right. So I might be 3-4-5-1 and I would bid 2 unless the hand was bad with the diamonds being weak.

Grant Baze---I would need an ace more to respond 2 instead of 1. With a King more I would respond 1 and make an invitational bid. If you responded 2, I would expect four hearts and four diamonds, with or without extra values. A rebid of 2 shows five or more diamonds, strength undefined. A rebid of a major shows 4-4 in the two suits, strength undefined. 2NT denies a four-card major and denies five Diamonds, normally a minimum.

Zeke Jabbour---I would want the equivalent of an opening bid, say, AJxxxKJxKxxxx. I would not view 2 as a reverse. It may well reflect pattern. I would not expect partner to rebid a three or four-card diamond suit. I play that over that specific sequence, a rebid of 3 is not forcing and resembles an old-fashioned pre two-over-one followed by 3 invitational hand showing six clubs and ten or eleven HCP.

John Carruthers---With 4-2-2-5 and a decent suit I'd respond 2 with any combination of high cards totaling four points in the reds EXCEPT a queen and two jacks, i.e., a seven-loser but not an eight-loser hand. With Joey Silver, my regular partner, we do have simple understandings: we raise clubs with any four or with three to an honor and a reason (could be a small doubleton, or a singleton). We do not rebid 2 willy-nilly as many do; 2NT is the default-balanced minimum.

Marinesa Letizia---Like to have a 12 count if 4-2-2-5 for two-over-one. Play that if you bid two-of-a-major instead of 2, you deny five diamonds. Bidding 2 doesn't show anything extra, just denies five diamonds so usually has four hearts. Could be xxxAKxAJxxxxx.

Mike Passell---In standard American I would start with 2 on any game-forcing hand with clubs longer than spades 5-4, 6-5, 6-4 etc. knowing we are in a game-forcing auction which makes things flow easily. I like to rebid diamonds on any biddable five-card suit KJxxx or better. 2 would not show extra values but would deny a decent five-card diamond suit.

Kerri Sanborn---I would need enough to game force, given no discussion, so equivalent of another ace to the given hand. If you were to rebid 2, it would merely show four cards in that suit with no extra values. It would probably deny five cards in diamonds and/or four-card support for clubs. Simple understandings include two-of-a-major is not reverse strength, 2NT shows minimum or 18-19 HCP; three-of-a-new suit is splinter; raise is extras by way of high cards or shape.

Mel Colchamiro---With a four-card major I would need a game-forcing hand to respond 2. With less than a game-force, definitely bid major first. So to AJxxxxxxKxxxx I would need to add an ace and a queen. At matchpoints I still might respond 1 with four spades and five clubs and limited slam potential. At IMPs, 2 would be more appealing if 1 - 2 - 2 showed nothing extra. It does not deny five-cards in diamonds. I do not particularly like the idea of mandatory rebidding 2 with five.

Dan Morse---I would have a sixth club and a hand I would like to force to game.

My recommendations:

Avoid 1 - 2 as responder with a four-card major as often as possible. Use it only when you have a very, very good hand.

If opener has a hand that he can describe in one bid he should do so. I like 2NT to show a either a balanced 13-14 or a balanced 18-19 HCPs. Two-of-a-major shows a sound opening bid with at least five diamonds. The only exception would be a hand with all the strength in the two suits such as xxxAKJxAQxxxx. 3 shows club support. If holding three clubs it shows extras. With four clubs always bid 3. Three-of-a-major is a splinter bid showing club support and shortness in the bid-major. 3 shows a one-loser or better suit. If you don’t have one of the above hand types, rebid 2. I would rebid 2 with AKJxQxxxQxxxx (too weak to rebid 2NT), AKJxQxQxxxxxx (too weak to raise clubs). AxKxxxQJxxxQx could go either way depending on whether 2 shows extras. Now responder can bid 2 if he wants to know more about your hand or can continue describing his hand.
Don Berman, Web Master.