Theory and Conventions

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M J Bridge

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

Modern style


The original version of these bids is outlined on the previous page.


In its time it was a great step forward, but the philosophy built into it was fundamentally flawed.

The early theorists were concerned that partner should have accurate information for those occasions on which he held a big hand and the contract belonged to your side - hence all the requirements regarding strength, length, holdings in the side-suits, etc..

However, given that you hold a hand which is weak in terms of high-card points, the contract is likely to belong to your opponents more often than it belongs to your side.

It follows that you should prioritise the obstructive rather than the constructive qualities of your hand.


To put it another way, you should be looking for opportunities to use these obstructive bids rather than reasons not to.


A starting method


You will modify your requirements even further in due course (see below) but as a starting point:-


play weak twos in three suits;

lower the range to 5 to 10 (or 5 to 9);

ditch the requirements for no void, not two singletons, and not another good four-card suit;

and retain a minimum suit quality of KT or QJ (not higher) in a six-card suit.


Post intermediate and above

This page last revised 28th Jun 2020

Responder’s continuations

Beginner and Improver

Expert extensions


Most tournament partnerships will vary their requirements quite considerably from those shown above.


The primary reason for this is that the underlying mindset has changed - as indicated above you should now be looking for reasons to use these obstructive bids, not reasons why you should not use them - and the starter method above takes account of this.


But also of great importance are what I shall call, for lack of a better term, ‘local conditions’.

In practice this means position at the table and vulnerability, although vulnerability tends nowadays to be less of a consideration than was once the case.


Local conditions (i.e position and vulnerability)


The extent to which you might stretch the requirements is something which you should agree as a partnership, but the underlying idea is that in some situations it will pay to take away even more of the opponents’ bidding space than would be the case with a strict application of the underlying agreement.


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.


There is one traditional requirement which I did not not include in the basic method at the top of the page, and that was ‘not four cards in the other major’.

This is no longer as hard and fast a rule as it once was but it still has its place in the basic list of requirements unless you play Robson responses.  In particular, if you are 6-4 in the majors then you maximise the possibility of a game contract your way and the chances of your opponents having a making game contract are significantly reduced.


At one time it was normal to advise extreme caution when vulnerable.  This is still a consideration, but not to the same extent.  You might on occasion be punished for your indiscretion, but your opponents will compete far more often than they double at the two-level. If the hand is totally suitable in other respects then don’t let the vulnerability stop you.


The principle consideration when considering ‘stretching the requirements’ is ‘position at the table’.

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


Second seat


Your preemptive opening is as likely to inconvenience your partner as your opponents.

With this in mind it will tend to approximate to the ‘pure’ agreement.  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.

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.


Third seat


This time you have considerable leeway with only your opponents to upset.


Flaws


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.


The idea 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 (unless you play Robson responses), points outside the agreed range, and too much defence.


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


In first seat with just one flaw you should make the bid and the existence of two flaws would be far from exceptional.

You might well take further liberties, particularly if your opponents are vulnerable.


And in third seat almost anything goes.

In particular, when not vulnerable you should be prepared to open a good (say three honours) five-card suit with a weak two, and a decent six-card suit with a weak three, provided that your partner is on the same wavelength.


You may choose to adopt the same approach when vulnerable in third seat.

My inclination is to maintain the length and the suit quality when opening a weak two (or weak three) vulnerable in third seat, but to be prepared to play fast and loose with the requirements relating to other aspects of the hand (shortage, other major …).

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.

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