District 6
Jane Farthing, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Feb/MarArticle by Steve RobinsonJun/Jul
ArticlesRebid of Major Showing 6-Card Suit (Apr/May 2010)
I asked my expert panel. You're playing two-over-one, five-card majors with 2 as your strong bid. The opponents are not in any of these auctions. You open 1 and partner bids 2. What do you think of a rebid of 2 promising six spades? What about after 1 - 2?

There are some experts who think two-of-a-major rebid should show six. Suppose you play a rebid of 2 shows six spades. I strongly believe that raising spades should show three spades. In slam auctions there is a big difference between a 6-2 fit and a 6-3 fit. K65432 and Q65432 are bad holdings opposite a two-card raise but reasonable holding opposite a three-card raise. How do I get to my 6-2 spade fit if I can’t raise spades directly with a doubleton? Suppose I hold AxxxKQxxKJxxx. I know for sure that I want to play in 4 if partner rebids 2 showing six. I bid 2NT first and then support spades at my next turn. I can see the following auction 1 - 2 - 2 - 2NT – 3NT - 4. 4 shows two spades and a minimum two-over-one. If I held AxAxKQxxKJxxx, I would cuebid 4 over 3NT to show a slammish two-card spade raise. Since I bid 2NT, I can’t want to try to set clubs as trump.

The following experts think that two-of-a-major-rebid should show six even over 2. It makes sense in a forcing club system where opener is limited. After 1 - 2, they’ll rebid 2NT with AJxxxAK432432. They’ll rebid 3 with AKJxxxKxxxxxx. Most other experts need extras to bid 3 so they have to rebid 2NT on some strange hands if 2 promises six spades. Over 1 - 2, 3 and 3 is called a high reverse by most experts and shows at least 14 highs. Some play, however, that you can bid three-of-a-minor with five.

Kit Woolsey---I totally think that the 2 rebid should show six -- even after the 2- response. You are in a game force, so extra strength isn't that much of an issue. Why tell the story you have already told?

Bart Bramley---I've played many different ways. In my current strong-club partnerships we play that 2 shows six, which I like. This means that 2NT is the punt and can be bid on some ugly hands with funny shape or lack of stoppers. Over 2 specifically this shouldn't happen often, but other auctions are less forgiving, like 1 - 2. I think this style works better in a limited-opening system, but I wouldn't mind it in a standard system. Clarifying the sixth trump resolves a significant ambiguity in exchange for some lesser (in my opinion) ambiguities in the 2NT rebid. With my standard partners I usually play that 2 promises only five and can be a punt. With some partners I use inversions, like 2 (cheapest bid) as the punt, which solves some problems but creates more memory work.

Marinesa Letizia---I like 2 to show six or a really unbalanced hand. After 2 I like 2 to show six here, but play that 2NT over 1 - 2 - 2 shows a doubleton spade and a jump to 3NT denies a doubleton spade. So, if you're stuck and rebid 2 over 2 with five then over 2NT you can just bid 3NT, or bid 3 or 4 with six if you play fast arrival.

Larry Mori---I am all in favor of it. The principle is best game before slams and one should be length-definitions as opposed to bigger hands. One should bid where one lives, and if there is more to bid, then bid more. Thus, holding AKxxxxAQxxxxx or a hand with 5-2-4-2 distribution, then 3 is clear over 2 and 2 over 2. One ought to be aware that 2 might be a prepared bid similar to 2 by responder, which might be a prepared bid when holding various 4-4-3-2 hands when two-of-a-red suit promises five. When one can define the trumps knowing partner has six or more is a huge advantage as opposed to showing a minimum that could be Jxxxx or AKQxxx. It is very hard not to play 2 as six 95% of the time. The exception would be AKQJx with no better rebid.

Michael Kamil---I like to play that a rebid of 2 shows six and that the default rebid for opener is 2NT.  This way responder discovers the extent of the major suit fit immediately. Granted that it does make for some strange 2NT rebids, but my experience says that this rarely occurs. 

Over 2 by partner, one could play that a 2 rebid shows six. Otherwise, if you can’t raise clubs and don’t have a four-card red suit, then you have to rebid 2NT with only five spades. However, my opinion is that it is much easier for opponents to defend against a 3NT contract when played by the spade hand. The spade hand’s distribution is practically an open book. Other experts agree with me and would rather have a choice on which side plays notrump. They want 2NT to be pure.

Zia Mahmood---I’d prefer not to play 2 shows six spades so that I can be purer with my notrump rebid, and I also prefer a new suit at the three-level to show extras. Same after 2; I think playing 2 shows six means losing the way to show extras on second-suit hands and right-siding notrump. However, I know several good players who like this so would not dismiss it.

Some experts think that only after1 - 2, a 2 rebid should show six. Over responses other than 2, major-suit rebids can be made of five-card suits.

Karen Allison---One of my guiding bidding principles is to avoid rebidding five-card suits, so, yes, I believe after 2, 2 should show six. Either you have a second suit to bid, can raise clubs or can rebid 2NT if you have only five spades. After 2, this is an awkward auction where opener is finessed many times into rebidding a five-card spade suit. I play that 1 - 2 - 3 shows substantial extra values (a 'high reverse'), so failing that and without a hand suitable to rebid 2NT, opener has little choice but to rebid 2.

Jill Myers---I have mixed emotions about 2 promising six in either auction since I play one way with one of my regular partners and the other way with my other regular partner. The advantage of 2 showing six is that partner knows how many trumps you have so can easily raise on a doubleton with awkward hands; the disadvantage is not having a convenient rebid over the game force. I can adjust to either treatment, so for me whatever my partner likes is fine with me. If partner has a strong feeling, my choice is to entertain it.

I play whichever way my partner wants. If my partner wants me to rebid 2NT holding AKQJxKxxxxxxx, I will do it and I will blame him if it’s wrong.

Two experts suggest treatments to define the 2 rebid.

Chip Martel---I think using 2 to show six spades and bidding 2NT on most hands with five spades (over 2), or balanced over 2, is attractive, particularly if you are opening most 15-17 hands with 1NT even if five spades are held. I deal with this over 2 by playing 2 as two-way: 12-14 balanced, or six or more spades with 1-2-2 showing spades and diamonds.

George Jacobs---After 1 - 2, 2 should be a catchall and very suspect. A good treatment over that sequence is 2NT as a relay, followed by 3 or 3 showing 6-4, 3 showing a good six-card spade suit, 3 showing a broken six-card spade suit and 3NT denying six spades.  

After 1 - 2 or 1 - 2, you could play 2 as a waiting bid.

Richard Schwartz---I like 2 to show six spades; otherwise bid 2 on a tough hand. I bid 2 on AKQJx also, which looks like a six-card suit.

Marty Bergen---There is logic in 2 over 2 guaranteeing six. After 2, 2 is definitely acceptable with a quality suit (three or more honors). With four honors, a five-card suit should always be treated as the equivalent of six.

If you have a suit that can play well opposite two little, you could treat it as a six-card suit.

John Carruthers---One of the decisions a two-over-one pair faces is what is the default two-level rebid after a two-over-one? Say you have 5-2-2-4, 5-2-4-2, 5-1-3-4 or even 5-1-2-5 distribution, what is the response after 1-2? If you play that 2 is the default response, you must rebid 2 on a variety of hands with a singleton in partner's suit or with only five spades or both. Different considerations apply after 1-2. Here you have more room to describe four cards or more in a red suit. Another issue arises if you play that a raise to 3 over 2 promises four clubs or extra values. Then you could have 5-3-2-3 and a minimum with no diamond stopper. Then, is it 2 or 2NT? My own preference in all of this is to raise to 3, bid 2 or bid 2NT, all with minimums, depending on the high-card structure. So, my answer to 1-2-2, does it promise six? No, but most of the time I'll have six, more often than if I'd responded 2 for instance.

Henry Bethe---I play that over a 2 response, 2 promises six spades. With all shapes with only five you have another rebid available. If 5-3-3-2 you can bid 2NT or 3 or even manufacture 2. If 5-4, you can bid your second suit. Over a 2 or 2 response, responder may not be strong enough to bid 3, which in my opinion promises extras, and may be inappropriate for 2NT or a raise. To answer a question not asked, after 1-2 or 1-2, the 2 rebid does NOT promise six. The considerations of 1 - 2 or 1-2 apply in "spades" (pardon the pun). Opener may have to rebid even a bad five-card suit because of an inability to make another bid for strength reasons. Both the reverse to 2 after opening 1 and new suits at the three-level IMHO should show extra values, and this is more important than the sixth heart. I also play that the jump rebid of 3 or 3 just shows a very good suit, and does not promise extra values. The suit should be slam playable opposite a small singleton.

I think that 1 - 2 - 2 should not be a reverse, but shows four spades and longer hearts. This allows partner to respond 2 and set the game force over a 1 opening bid, even when holding four spades.

Dan Gerstman---As a rule I play that only in the auction 1-2 does 2 show six spades. However, there could be an exception of an extremely strong five-card suit such as AKQJxxxxxxxKx. With that same hand and as little as the spade queen less and a red queen more, I would normally rebid 2NT. I have sympathy for those who would bid 2 on the hand with three little hearts and queen third of diamonds from the previous sentence. However, with queen third of hearts and three little diamonds, I can see nothing other than 2NT. As for rebidding 2 over any other two-level response, I merely play that for the time being it is a waiting bid meaning I either could not rebid 2NT because I have no honors in the other suits or inappropriate shape, or I really had spades. Does this lead to confusion? You betcha, as they say in the 49th state: is partner temped to raise on only two in that 1 - two-red - 2 auction? Yep, which is why there should be a lot of dancing about at the 2NT through three-level starting with a 2NT bid by responder (if appropriate by honors/shape), allowing opener room to raise to 3NT if he really only has five spades and was looking for responder to grab the notrump and some three-level bid if he had six spades and was trying to cajole doubleton support.

I don’t like bidding three-card diamond suits unless partner knows it could be three.

Bobby Wolff---In order to ensure a rebid of 2 to promise six spades, we must consider the following examples:  
    1. AKTxxxxAJxxxx            2.AJ9xxAQxxxJxx
    3. KQJ9xxxxxxxAQ           4. AKQxAxxxxxxx
    5.KQJTxxxxxxxAK            6.QJ109xAKQxxxxx  
Without answering each specific example, the following compromises need to be considered:  
  1. You could easily be wrong-siding the notrump by rebidding 2NT
  2. You might have to bid a three large suit.
  3. You might have to raise partner with two large.
  4. Consider treating five good ones like #'s three, four and five as we would any six.
On the surface and because of the necessary skewing, it is apparent that the gains by doing such must overcome these significant shortcomings. Personally I think it would be more effective to go to much artificiality rather than to follow through on this experiment. In conclusion, I do not like either solution.

After 1- 2 it is even more necessary to sometimes rebid 2 with only five spades since it is unworkable to:  
  1. Go to the three-level with a minimum and no particular positive fit.
  2. Bid 2NT. You wrong side the notrump and also skew the bidding.
  3. Consider raising to 3 with only two of them, which is not to my taste, nor I think to partner's.

Jeff Rubens---One cannot answer such questions without interaction with what other rebids mean. It's a matter of the entire structure, not what one particular immediate action means. If one likes a particular rebid to mean something, one can build a structure around that decision.

Drew Casen---Jim Krekorian and I stretch NOT to rebid a five-card suit. We would rarely rebid a bad five-bagger or a three-bagger. We would rarely rebid 2NT with a small doubleton in an unbid suit. Our agreement is that we will only rebid a five-bagger when we have no other choice--for instance, a small doubleton in an unbid suit and no other suit to bid. After 1 - 2, we play that three-of-a-new-minor is either 5-5 or extras, so it is more likely that we might have to rebid a five-bagger. On any of these auctions, opener's 2NT rebid promises nothing extra. Sometimes this gets us to 3NT in a 6-2 fit when opener is balanced and has no choice but to raise responder's 2NT rebid to 3NT.

Larry Cohen---After 1 - 2, it would be rare to rebid 2 without six since there is so much space. But, after 1 - 2, I would often prefer to bid 2 on five, rather than 2NT without stoppers in both minors. I have no 100% rule on any of this--use judgment for each hand.

Ron Gerard---I would rebid 2 with AKJxxJxxxxxKx or KQJ10x,AQxxxxxx. You can't apply the touching suit rule (1-1-2) because opener's minimum notrump rebid is more distribution-focused at the one-level than the two-level and you have more need to create forcing bids after a one-level response that depend on knowing that opener has a six-card suit (e.g., 1-1-2-2NT as a potential forcing raise to 3 without having to invent three-of-a-minor and possibly compromise your own slam auction if opener makes an inconvenient rebid such as 3 or 3). After 1 - 2, 2 is needed as a catchall. If you play 1-2- three-of-a-minor shows extras, you have to bury your second suit much of the time. Even if you don't, you can't be bidding 3 or 2NT with KQ10xxxQxxx AQx.

Billy Pollack---I like to play 2 as "90%" showing six, with a preference for either 2 or 2NT with five spades; but AKJTxAxxxxxxx bids 2, and partner's 3 here could be Hx. Over 2,the 2 'punt' goes away, so 2 is about 70% to be six. Partner's 3 now is assumed to be three.  

Eddie Kantar---I don't think it should promise six spades even after a 2 response.  Don't tell me that 2 is the right rebid with AKQJxAxxxxxxx after a 2 response. Similarly after a 2 response with something like AKQJx xxxxxAxx, 2 must be right. 

Barry Rigal---I hate 2 showing six over 2, but am OK with 2 showing six over 2. But if I were dealt even: KQ10xxxxAxxKxx, I'd rebid 2 over any two-level response by partner.

Kerri Sanborn---I generally play that a rebid of 2 shows six or a very directional five-card suit, e.g. AKQxxxxxxxxAx. It is default to rebid 2NT or 2 with imperfect hands. When partner bids 2 over 1, the rules have to be loosened. There is no reason to be forced to bid 2NT when it is a bad bid, e.g. when holding AKxxxxxxxxxAQ. Here a 2 rebid as default seems most reasonable.

Bobby Lipsitz---When I played with Ed Manfield (25+ yrs ago), we used 2 artificial in the first auction to deny six spades, and it worked really well. It has to be crazy to have 1 - 2 - 2 showing six unless 2NT or three-of-a-minor suit promises absolutely nothing extra. Then how do you have a constructive auction?

Ralph Katz---I can go either way over 2, but would rather rebid a three-card diamond suit than Q10xxx of spades. Over 2, 2 should show five good spades or more. I would like to have five great spades or six, but I don't want to bid 2NT with xxx.

Fred Hamilton---I like a 2 rebid to show six or a strong five after a 2 response, but since a 2 response "squeezes you," 2 should not promise six. It is often the only sensible action.

Allan Siebert---Over 2, 2 should show six spades or at least KQJ10x. Over 2 I will “default” to 2 with no reasonable alternative.

Mark Lair---In my Ozdil partnership, 2 over 2 could be xxxxx. I think rebidding reasonable five-card majors is sound and have played "that" throughout my bridge career. 1 - 2 - three-of-either-minor shows a very good 14-count or better. 2 over 2 also could be only a five-card suit.

Doug Doub---I prefer using 2 as a "catchall" bid, rather than 2NT. If 2 were to promise a six-card suit, you would have to make some other distortion with something like AKQxxAxxxxxxx.  Do you really want to rebid 2NT or raise to 3 with that hand? Additionally, 2NT can be specific about strength. Depending upon your agreements, it can show extra values. Alternatively, it should be 12-14 or 18+ HCP.

Zeke Zabbour---I'm comfortable with it. There is a clear advantage sometimes in knowing that partner has six of a suit. It depends on your priorities in a game-forcing auction. You can emphasize pattern first to determine strain and then find the appropriate level, or you can emphasize the relative strength of your assets before clarifying distribution. I'm comfortable with that, too. As always, the partnership agreement is crucial. Over the two-over-one-field I would guess that a rebid showing six is most common. However, among the experts, I would guess that it's at best 50-50 or maybe less. Each treatment encounters awkward moments.

Roger Bates---I would bid 2 with a five-card suit as a punt vice 2NT. It saves a step and right sides the notrump contract. The sixth spade being shown now or on the next round is a negative, but not enough of a problem to require 2 to promise six.

Mel Colchamiro---Over a 2 response, I like to play 2 shows six. With 5-3-3-2, I don't mind 2 on three if 2NT isn't available because of a lack of a stopper, and with 5-2-3-3 or 5-3-2-3, 3 is OK with me even with a minimum. So, for me, 2 is the default bid, maybe on three and suspect as to length. This works particularly well if 2 over 1 could be suspect itself as to length with 3-4-4-2 or 3-3-4-3 to accommodate a 2 or 2 response showing five. If opener bids 2 with five, responder has to first support spades at the three-level and a whole round of bidding is lost. Over 2, 2 could be five, and is the default bid. In both cases, the cheapest suit bid is the default.

Rose Meltzer---In a "perfect world" a 2 rebid promising six spades would be fine; however, Kyle Larsen and I feel it's better to rebid your five-card major with all minimum hands, where you don't want to bid 2NT. Today's light style of bidding (most players are opening all 11-point hands), it is best to keep auctions as low as possible. On your auction of 1 - 2, you have plenty of time to show the sixth spade. I bid 2 over 2, especially with AQxxxxxAQxxxx and similar hands.

David Berkowitz---It depends on your default agreements, and my preference is to play 2 is default, and to have some clarifying responses after partner bids 2NT to untangle the spade issue. I will not raise 2 without four, or honor third, and sometimes this can cause a problem after 1 - 2 would be comfortable bidding 2 with KJxxxxxAKJxxx or the like. After 1-2 I still play 2 as the default action, while many prefer non-positional non-stopper 2NT (not me).

When I sit down with a new partner, one of the questions I ask is whether you can rebid a five-card major after a two-over-one. If that is what he wants, I comply. If he gives me a choice, then I say that the rebid is the default and doesn’t promise six. However, I will never raise a six-card major directly with only two. Make sure you know what your partner wants when you fill out a card.
Don Berman, Web Master.