District 6
Shawn Stringer, President
American Contract Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
District 7
Zero Tolerance, D6 policy
Feb/MarArticle by Steve RobinsonAug/Sep
ArticlesBidding 2 over 1 (Jun/Jul 2013)
I asked my expert panel: 1 - Pass - 2 (Game Forcing) is a difficult sequence in standard bidding.
1) If you have a four-card major and five or more clubs, at what strength would you bid 2 in response to a 1 opening bid instead of your four-card major?
2) Do you have conventional understandings about opener’s rebid of 2, two-of-either-major, 2NT or 3 after responder bids 2?

2-response to 1 is different from a 2 response to one-of-a-major. You have at least four clubs to respond 2. If you have only four clubs, you don’t have a hand that falls into the 2NT or 3NT notrump response area. I believe that opener should rebid 2NT over 2 with all balanced hands, even if opener doesn’t have all suits stopped. You’d open 1NT with 432432AKQAK43, which has two unstopped suits. Two-of-a-major should show a distributional hand with four of the major and at least five diamonds. I’d treat a hand with honors in both suits such as AKxxxxAKxxxxx as diamonds and spades and rebid 2. Clubs should be raised with support. When partner bids 2, he could easily be interested in slam. However, there is a big difference between QJxKxxAxxxQxx, a weak minimum that some players might not even open, and KxAxxAJxxQxxx, a sound minimum, for club-slam purposes. There’s also a big difference between QJxKxxxAxxxQx, a weak balanced minimum that some players might not open, and KxxAxxxAJxxQx, a sound weak balanced minimum, for 6NT purposes. There’s even a bigger problem if you open 11 point hands. With this in mind, I use 2 as a three-way bid. 2 shows either an 11 to bad 13 balanced hand, a bad raise to 3 or a natural 2 rebid. Responder asks with 2. Over 2, Opener bids 2NT showing an 11 to a bad 13 balanced hand. Over 2, 3 shows a bad club raise. 2 and 3 show that 2 was natural. A direct 2NT rebid shows either a good 13 to 14, the top of a weak notrump, or 18-19 balanced. It’s nice to know that partner is not ashamed of his opener. A direct jump to 3NT shows 18-19 with exactly 4=4=3=2 distribution. The problem hands are the 4=4=4=1 hands, and they can be treated as balanced. Jumps to three-of-either-major over 2 are splinters showing club support and shortness in the bid major.

Then there is the problem of what do you bid over 1 holding AQxKxxQxxxxxx? If you’re playing 2NT shows 11-12 balanced, you can bid 2NT with that hand. If you’re playing a jump to 2NT is game forcing, then you have to bid 2 and follow with 2NT to show 11-12 balanced. If 2 is not game-forcing, you need a way to allow Responder to be able to show his 11-12 balanced. You can use the 2-rebid gadget as a way to allow Responder to show his 11-12 balanced. A direct 2NT-rebid by opener would then show a hand where he’d want to be in 3NT opposite 11-12 balanced. Most experts bid 2 holding five clubs, a four-card major and a game-forcing hand. Since 1 - 2 leads to bad auctions, I like to avoid responding 2 unless I have a very good hand. With AQxxxxxxAKxxx, I’d respond 1. Make it AKQxxxxxAKxxx and I’d respond 2.

Some experts always rebid 2 when holding at least five diamonds. Failure to rebid 2 denies holding five diamonds.

Jill Meyers---I would almost always bid 2 with a game-forcing (GF) hand, even if I have a four-card major. I do have conventional understandings. 2 promises at least five rebiddable diamonds and says nothing about a four-card major. It is Responder's responsibility to bid the major. Two-of-either- major by Opener would deny five rebiddable diamonds and would generally show four-of-the- major. 2NT would deny a four-card major and would show stoppers in both majors so Opener may be forced to bid a three-card major. 3 generally shows extras unless strapped.

Suppose Responder holds AKxxxxxxAQJxx? After 1 - 2 -2, I think he’s supposed to rebid 2. What is opener supposed to do if he has four spades and a heart stopper? xxxxAQAxxxxKx for instance.

Ralph Katz---I’d bid 2 on any game-forcing hand. Over 2, 2 shows at least five diamonds and does not deny a four-card major. 2 is artificial, 2 is natural showing four spades and four diamonds, and 2NT is 3=3=4=3 distribution.

Larry Cohen---I love to respond 2 instead of responding in my major. Even with 4-4, I am happy to bid 2 if the club suit is good. I need game-forcing strength for the 2 response. 

I think the two-over-one auction is much easier than responding in the major and later having to use fourth-suit forcing. I like this rule: Opener always rebids 2 with at least five diamonds with or without a four-card major. If he doesn't bid 2, he doesn't have at least five diamonds. If he does bid a major, he is 4-4 in that major and diamonds. No extras promised. Even though it is a "reverse" I would show the major. Raising a 2-response to 3 shows at least four clubs and denies five diamonds and denies a four-card major. 3NT shouldn't be rebid--just avoid it. Bid 2NT with 12-14 or 18-19 balanced, and then bid again with 18-19. A 2NT rebid would be 3=3=4=3 shape by default, since with five diamonds or a four-card major, you'd have rebid there instead.

If you have 18-19 balanced, you rebid 2NT and then bid 4NT if partner bids 3NT. You could also bid your four-card minor over 3NT with 18-19 balanced.

Alan Sontag---Responder needs a good opening bid, at least 13 HCP, to bid 2 holding a four-card major. 2 rebid shows at least five diamonds and can have a side four-card major. Two of a major shows four diamonds and four of the major or six diamonds and five of a major. 2NT and 3 are standard not including above unless big club support.

Kit Woolsey---Since 2 is GF, I need game-forcing strength. Assuming I have that, I will bid 2 almost always with a four-card major and at least five clubs unless the major is super-strong and the clubs are weak.

Responder must rebid 2 with at least five diamonds, even with a four-card major Two-of-a-major is presumably balanced since not five diamonds but could be 4-4-4-1. 2NT is assumed minimum notrump strength. With a four-card major and a balanced hand, can bid either two-of-a-major or 2NT depending on suit quality and hand type. 3 shows at least four clubs. With three-card club suit, find another call. Strength is not a consideration for any of these calls.

Mike Lawrence--- I tend to bid 2 on most hands if I have five clubs and a four-card major and game points. Showing your shape this way leads to mostly accurate auctions. I do not have distinctions that would dictate I not go the 2 and then major-suit route.

A 2 rebid by opener shows most hands with five or more diamonds. Opener’s rebid of 2 does not deny a four-card major. A bid of two of either major by opener over 2 shows four cards in that suit, denies five diamonds and promises nothing extra. A 2NT bid by opener is usually 12-14 and could have five diamonds, but may have some tweak hands, nominally expected to be 18-19 balanced high card kind of hands. 3 shows three or four clubs. May have any range for this from a flavorful 13 and up. A jump to three of either major over 2 is a splinter bid in support of clubs.

Joe Kivel---I respond as follows over 2: 2 shows five or more diamonds and may have a four-card major; 2 or 2 show four diamonds (possibly three) and four of the major; 2NT shows a minimum; 3 shows at least honor third, or any four, and a ruffing value in a major. 

Marinesa Letizia---I need game forcing values to bid 2. I must rebid 2 with five or more diamonds even with a four-card major. Two-of-either-major is natural and denies five diamonds. 2NT is balanced showing 11-14 or 18-19. A 3-raise after responder bids 2 doesn't show extras but must have at least Qxx or xxxx.

Drew Casen---In accordance with modern two-over-one game-forcing treatments, my regular partner Jim Krekorian and I would almost always begin with 2 if we had a game force. The exception might be if the five-card club suit was very weak. However, we have agreed that it is the responsibility of responder to make sure we don't miss a 4-4 major fit after starting with 2.

After 1-2, we will almost always rebid a decent five-card diamond suit. We also will tend to rebid 2NT with any balanced hand with some exceptions. For example, we feel that three in a side suit constitutes an acceptable holding for a 2NT rebid, but NOT two small. On those hands, we will bid a four-card major over 2. Raising 2 to 3 is generally four-card support and balanced. However, bridge is bridge, so we would also raise with something like xxxxxAQxxxAKx.

The following two experts might bid one-of-a-major holding five clubs and a game forcing hand.

Billy Pollack---I usually bid one-of-a-major with 4-5, unless slam-going, but 2 with 4-6 game-forcing. I always rebid 2 with at least five diamonds; two-of-a-major with four or concentration; 3 promises shortness with 3 asking; jumps are splinters.

Dan Gerstman---With what will you raise your partner's response? Typically, you have four trumps to raise a major, but not always. On the other hand and here is my point, on three to an honor, you will feel you have a good raise of partner's 2. That's how you get in trouble: you respond 2, partner raises you to 3, and now you bid three-of-a-major, and all of a sudden you're off to the races. So when I have enough to force to game with that 5-4, I tend to bid the better suit first. You don't bid an un-biddable major with a good club suit. Opener grabs the notrump with values in both majors. He rebids diamonds with five or more good diamonds. Again, why show a poor five-card suit? Responder is going to bid 3 next with good support regardless of what you do now. And he bids two of a major with a biddable major.

Kerri Sanborn---I bid 2 with any game forcing hand. I rebid 2 with any five-card or longer suit, two of a major without five diamonds, 2NT denies either five diamonds or a four-card major. 2NT is default and 3 shows either extra values setting trumps or any normal 3-raise that could not splinter.

Some experts agree with me and bid two-of-a-major showing four of the major and at least five diamonds. Reverses show distribution but don’t necessarily show extra values.

Eric Greco---I am not the expert on this auction as I have played a strong club for many years now. When I did play two-over-one I tended to always bid 2 with 5-4 regardless of my strength, although I am not sure that is right.

Bidding over 2 is more complicated. There are so many possible treatments including using some type of artificial relay system for certain hands. The simplest method I like is to bid 2NT with all my weak notrump hands or 18-19 hands regardless of stoppers. I think 2 should show at least five diamonds and if the hand includes a major it is limited to 14 or so. I think two-of-a-major should be that major and at least five diamonds and 15+ or so unless you are 4=4=4=1 although 3NT could and should show 4-4-4-1 and 15-17. Raising to 3 would just be a balanced hand with four clubs and three-of-either-major would be a splinter.

Jon Wittes---If I have a game going hand I would always bid 2 first. If I have less than a game going hand I bid one of my four-card-major. I would bid 2 on all minimums with at least five diamonds and not both majors stopped. I would bid two-of-a-major on hands that I didn't have a dead minimum and didn't have the other major stopped. I would bid 2NT on any minimum opener with both majors stopped. I would raise to 3 anytime with four trumps, or with three to an honor on non-minimum hands.

Barry Rigal---The right 11 count as a GF bid is OK. QxxxxxQxAKxxx looks like 2 to me. AQxxKxxxQxxxx looks like a 1 bid to me. After 1-2 I'm convinced the simplest and maybe best way to go is:
 - 2 is at least five diamonds and may have a four-card-major but will be a minimum.
 - Two-of-a-major is reversing pattern and not minimum, but AQxxxAQxxxJxx is fine.
 - 2NT is balanced with stoppers in majors.
 - 3 is at least three-card support and may be balanced unsuitable for 2NT.
 - Hands like xxAQxxAQxxQxx bid 3 painlessly.

Carol Simon---I always bid my longest suit first when I have a game-forcing hand. Never distort length. I expect 2 rebid to show at least five diamonds, no four-card major and the inability to bid notrump or raise. I do not treat a major suit rebid as a reverse, but I do treat a raise to 3 as slight extra values or better. I open minimum balanced 4-4 minor hands with 1, so I wouldn't have the problem of having to raise 2 to 3 with a total minimum.

Sue Picus---I would bid 2 any time I have a game-forcing hand with a four-card major and longer clubs. Two-of-either-major shows reverse type shape, not necessarily the strength of a reverse, but definitely a non-minimum.

Henry Bethe---I bid 2 with essentially any game force with at least five clubs with clubs longer than a major; there are some hands with a weak five-card club suit and a strong major that I would violate, but it would be rare.

After 1 - 2:
 - Two of either major shows at least four, non-minimum values and at least five diamonds.
 - 2NT is balanced, either 12-14 or 18-19.
 - 3 is natural, unbalanced, does not show extras.
 - 3 shows a one-loser six-card diamond suit.
 - Three of either major is a splinter bid, could be 4=1=4=4 or 1=4=4=4.
 - 2 is a catchall for all other hands including 4=4=4=1 of any strength.

Adam Zmudzinski---Holding up to 11 HCP, I bid the four-card major over 1. After 1 - 2, 2NT shows either 12-14 HCP or 18 HCP with 4=4=4=1 distribution. 3NT shows 4=4=4=1 with 15-17 HCP and club shortness, of course.

Larry Mori---I would always bid 2 rather than 1, even with four spades and four clubs because it is important to set up the game force immediately. Otherwise, in this sequence or other similar ones, we would end up wasting a game-force bid that may not even be a suit. The only time to bid the four-card major first is when I do not have a game force. I rebid 2 with at least five diamonds except 3=3=5=2 with stoppers in the major suits. If I bid a major, I probably do not have a stopper in the other major. It is incumbent on the responder to find the 4-4 major suit fit which can be done by bidding or raising, but one must be flexible so that the other stopper could be bid. Opener should allow room here to maximize bidding shape too, using space utility to maximum advantage. A 3 raise might be a three-card suit when pure in diamonds and clubs. Latter parts of the auction may become complicated because even in a telling style partnership, the ability to show a real stopper may hinder showing a partial stopper. This is counter intuitive but in other auctions, we show the stoppers we have and are left with showing the partial stopper such as Qx or Jxx as the way to get to 3NT when three suits are covered.

Lynn Deas---I bid notrump at my first opportunity; therefore a two-of-a-major rebid would always be unbalanced rather than stopper showing as we did in the 80's. A 3-rebid would be a balanced four- or five-card raise, and I would splinter with shortness. A 2- rebid would be weak with either six diamonds or a five-card diamond suit that you may not want to rebid 2NT on.

Bobby Wolff---With at least five clubs and only four of a major, I would strain to bid clubs first with a minimum perhaps being: QxxxKxJxAQ10xx or AxxxxxxAQxxxx, but would bid 1 with AJxxKxJxK10xxx. I would never have fewer than four good diamonds to rebid 2; xxxxAxxxAKJxx, AxxAJxKxxxxxx,AJxKxxAJxxxxx or KxxKxxAQ9xxJx. With xxAxAJxxxxAxx or JxxxAQxxxxKJx I would raise clubs. With AQ10xxxAKxxxJx I would rebid 2 and with JxKJxxAK10xxQx I would rebid 2 trying to show suits and not a rock bottom opening bid.                          

Bart Bramley---With a game force I bid 2 on any decent five-bagger. We can find the major suit fit later. With less than a game force I bid the four-card major first. A spectacular result in the finals of my first Blue Ribbon in 1970 reinforced this principle for me permanently: My partner, Ken Lebensold, held Axxx-AKQxxKJxx; I held KJxxJxxJAQxxx. The auction went 1 - 2 - 3 - 3 - 5NT - 7. 7 was a laydown. The field played 6 or 7 going down when trumps were 4-1 offside. 3 showed heart shortness with club support and 5NT asked for the two top club honors.

After 1 - 2, two-of-a-major shows extras and guarantees at least five diamonds. With the same shape and a minimum I bid 2. With a balanced hand I bid two notrump with a semblance of stoppers. Balanced hands with three clubs and a low doubleton major are allowed to raise clubs, or even with 3=3=4=3 and nothing in the majors. Sometimes I must punt with 2 on a four-bagger. For a while I experimented with rebidding diamonds on all hands with at least five diamonds, and bidding a major to DENY five diamonds (balanced or 4=4=4=1). Two notrump showed a balanced hand without a major. That method sorts out distribution a little better at the expense of strength distinctions. It has merit, but I prefer the first method.

Eddie Kantar---Since I don't play two over one, I would bid 2 with 11+ points before showing the four-card major. I play that 2 or 2 shows 15+ points with 4-5, but I also bid 2 with minimum 4-4-4-1 hands. Responder then bids 2, artificial, and I clarify all distributions with the various point count ranges. I play 2 would be normal with at least five diamonds and 3 presumably shows a little extra, particularly with good three-card support. 

As you can see, 1 - 2 can be very complicated. If you have a regular partner, you should discuss what Opener’s rebids mean after 2. If you don’t have a regular partner or you haven’t discussed follow-ups, avoid responding 2 over 1 instead of bidding a four-card major, unless you have a very good hand.
Don Berman, Web Master.