Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Context  -  Opening two of a suit - single-suited weak twos

The expert approach

Most tournament partnerships will vary their methods quite considerably from those shown on the previous page.

There are two underlying (and interrelated) reasons for this:-

if played strictly by the book these bids are fairly easy to defend against

and, for lack of a better term, ‘local conditions’ - in practice this means vulnerability and position at the table.

Easy to defend against

If you adhere too closely to a prescriptive set of requirements when making any one of these openings then well-organised partnerships will be able to call on a structured and well-defined defence.  True, they will have lost a little of their bidding space, but they will have the armoury to limit the inconvenience to a minimum.

With this thought in mind many tournament partnerships now use these bids in a much looser manner, stretching their requirements for any one of point count, suit length, suit quality, hand-shape, or holding in the other major.

Partner will of course be in the dark, but at least he won’t rely totally on some non-existent holding in your hand, and the opposition will also be on something of a guess - particularly if your hand might hold unexpected defensive strength.

The extent to which you might stretch the requirements is something which you should agree as a partnership.  You might also wish to integrate your methods in this respect with the thoughts relating to ‘local conditions’ below.

Local conditions (i.e vulnerability and position)

The thoughts which follow draw considerably on Barry Rigal’s writing in ‘Precision in the Nineties’, but they represent a considerable simplification of his ideas - any shortcomings should not be laid at his door.

Note that, although I shall lay down a number of guidelines, the expert is more likely to make decisions based on experience, judgement, and ‘feel’, rather than on a strict adherence to a set of rules.  It is important, though, that the partnership should have an agreement on style because this will have a tremendous effect on responder’s subsequent actions.

The ‘pure’ (traditional) requirements for a natural weak-two opening are a six-card suit, points in a defined range - typically five to nine, a minimum suit quality (perhaps ‘KTxxxx or QJxxxx’), not four cards in the other major, not a good side-suit, and not a void.  The partnership agreement might differ, but only in detail.

These requirements can be stretched, either as a general partnership policy or in certain specific circumstances as agreed, and these circumstances are primarily to do with position at the table and vulnerability.

The aim, of course, is to cause the maximum disruption to your opponents whilst minimising the chances of disrupting your own side and avoiding the dangers of paying the price for indiscretion should your opponents find a well-judged penalty double.

Second seat

You are as likely to inconvenience your partner as your opponents.

With this in mind your preemptive overcalls will tend to approximate to a ‘pure’ definition such as that given above.  The non-existence of a good side-suit or a void are not given the importance that they once were, but length and ‘not four-cards in the other major’ will tend to be observed, and suit quality will usually be well up to standard if vulnerable and not too far away otherwise.  Partner will then have a clear picture of your hand, and should have little difficulty in plotting the way forward.

It would not be wrong to pass with a borderline weak two hand in this position, particularly if vulnerable.

In particular, a weak opening bid of 2 in second seat vulnerable, with its limited obstructive potential (see ‘which suits and how many?’), should promise a sound defensive lead, unless you have no joy in life other than to spread minor mayhem amongst everyone including your partner.

First seat

The odds are now in your favour with two opponents to annoy and only one partner who will probably get annoyed anyway.

You may stretch the requirements a little, but you should stick close to the ‘pure’ ideal when vulnerable.

When not vulnerable, though, and particularly when your opponents are vulnerable, there is much to be said for taking a much laxer approach to life.


An excellent idea, taken from Barry Rigal, is to treat each deviation from the ‘pure’ ideal as a flaw.

Possible flaws are therefore:- substandard suit quality, only a five-card suit, four cards in the other major, points outside the agreed range, and too much defence.

In this position you should treat one flaw as acceptable.  With two flaws you should tend towards not making the bid.

In general in this seat you should be prepared to relax the suit quality guideline, and requirements regarding the overall shape of the hand, but you will tend not to misrepresent the length of your suit (unless you have a partnership agreement to this effect), and you will try to avoid making such a bid when holding four cards in the other major.

Third seat

This time you have considerable leeway.

With just one flaw you should make the bid.

If not vulnerable, and particularly if your opponents are vulnerable, then you might well take further liberties.

The existence of two flaws would be far from exceptional in these circumstances.


In particular, this liberty will frequently extend to the length of the suit which you promise when not vulnerable in third seat.

Specifically in this position you should be prepared to open a good (say three honours) five-card suit.

The corollary is that in this same situation you will tend to open a decent six-card suit with a preemptive bid at the three-level.

This is an approach which you will not meet much in club play, but as long as partner is fully aware of this style, it will pay off in the long run.

You will also not flinch from making such a bid on a slightly wider point-range, a poor quality suit, or with four cards in the other major.

Post intermediate and above

K Q 8 7 4 2

7 3

9 5 4

Q 3

You have seven high-card points if you count the Q at full value and a perfectly respectable six-card suit.

Open 2in first or second seat at any vulnerability.

It won’t be everyone’s choice, but I would open 3 in third seat at favourable vulnerability, provided that my partner is on the same wavelength.

K 9 8 7 4 2

9 5 4 3


Q 3

You have five high-card points at best, a poor quality suit, and four cards in the other major.

Pass in second seat.

Consider opening in first seat when not vulnerable, but I would tend not to.

Open in third seat every time.

Q 3

K Q J 8 5


T 9 4 3

You have ten points on a raw count and a quality five-card suit.

I pass in first or second seats.

In third seat opposite my regular partner I definitely open 2 when not vulnerable, and I might even do the same when vulnerable.

Fourth seat

With no opponents to disrupt, the considerations in fourth seat are quite different.

This page last revised 17th Mar 2018

Responder’s continuations