Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Beginner and above

Invitational but limited

This bid will be limited in as much as there will be a stronger bid available which covers the game-forcing options.

2 as played in standard Benji or 2 in reverse Benji are the best known examples of this type of bid.

Such a bid will normally show either a strong single-suited hand (six-card in principle) in any of the four suits, or a strong balanced hand within some agreed points range.

This opening bid will be forcing for one round, and will promise a further bid, but that is all in the first instance.

Typically, you will open 2 and partner will make a relay response such as 2.

You will then rebid in your suit with the single-suited hand or rebid in no trumps with the balanced hand.

The single-suited hand will usually be worth 8½ to 9 playing tricks (some prefer 8 to 9) as well as satisfying the rule for strong openings.

A clear eight and half playing tricks on my count in a strong hand.

Open 2.

You will rebid a non-forcing 2, and then leave it to partner.

A K 8 7 4 2

K 3

A K 4


You have a clear eight and a half playing tricks according to most common-sense calculations, but this hand does not satisfy the ‘rule for strong openings’.

This hand is not strong enough to open 2.

Open 4(unless you have a 4Namyats’ bid in your armoury).


A K J 8 7 5 2


8 6 4

If you happen to hold a hand worth eight and a half playing tricks but which does not satisfy the requirements for a strong opening then consider opening at the four- or five-level.  Such a hand cannot contain much in the way of defence, and this approach will keep you above the law, discourage partner from looking for a slam with ‘a little something’, and will also provide a substantial preemptive challenge to your opponents.

Responder’s continuations

5-4 shape or better

You will have noticed that two-suited and semi-two-suited hands are not covered in the above.

By all means include them in the bid and include a second negative option for responder.

Alternatively, and probably better, if you happen to hold 5-4 shape with twenty two or more points then open with your game-forcing bid (or some number of no trumps).  Otherwise open such hands (5-4 shape) with one of a suit - it is all but unknown for such an opening bid to be passed out when there is a game available (if partner doesn’t respond the opponents will almost certainly join in).  You will then be able to show the nature and the strength of your hand with your second bid.

The balanced hand

The range for the balanced hand will be one which fits alongside the other routes available.  If for example an opening bid of 2NT promises twenty to twenty two points then this artificial strong bid followed by a rebid in no trumps will typically show a balanced hand of twenty three or twenty four points.

No trump ranges

There is considerable scope for individual partnership agreements on how the various point-ranges are divided between the available routes for showing a strong balanced hand.

For a discussion of some of the possible alternatives follow ‘opening a strong 2NT’.

This page last revised 8th Jul 2019

Context  -  Opening two of a suit in first or second seat - artificial strong twos.