10 July 2012

2NT in competition

There's a popular saying that goes "2NT is not a contract, it's a convention."

What about this hand:
K T 8 4
Q T 4
K 8 2
J 5 4

1 Pass 1 2
X Pass ?

If the double shows 3 card support, where would you like to play?

Passing the double is unwise but you can hardly bid 3 either; a 3 - 3 fit is a possibility.

Would you accept the Moysian and bid 2 hoping that partner won't raise to game or you won't get forced off or that the defense can't score a heart ruff on the lead?

2NT here needs to be natural.


  1. I agree 2N should be natural here (neither side having a known or certain 8 card fit), but are we really terribly happy about it? If RHO is sane then the most likely heart distribution is 2-2-6-3. Now if partner has a weak notrump with no heart card we will need to be able to run 8 tricks in the side suits for a plus score. On the other hand, if partner has that hand, perhaps we're just fixed.

    Precisely because the auction is so pressured, partner should not go leaping off to 4S with a better hand (I guess we're assuming 18-19 balanced for that action?) Over 2S he could respond 3H (which to my mind is just "I want to be in game but I don't know where").

  2. Good article.
    I would accept the Moysian fit here. Partner should have extra values to bid again and still may be able to make a call (like 2N) over your 2S that allows you to deny a 5-card spade suit (by raising to 3N). I have found that the 4-3 major fit at the 2-level often nets +110 or +140 for a very good score. Also, I think you should have a bit more than a soft 9 count for 2N.

  3. I'd just like to second Steve's point. To my mind mandatory x's with three card support here are a mistake -- if partner has some cheese that he chose to open, he ought to be able to pass 2H even with three card support for spades. The x should say "I have 3 spades and am unwilling to sell out to 2H", not just "I have 3 spades".

  4. It is a good point, lots of people play compulsory below two of responders suit though two of openers suit is a perhaps a better place to draw the line.

    How much extra? If it confirms a reasonable 13 count or better then 2NT still looks to be the best spot. In fact you want to show some extra value so that with a good 15 partner can bid game.

  5. The benefit of compulsory support doubles (up to 2H, as I like to play them) is that it is easy for responder to bid 2S with any garbage that contains 5S. This is almost always right rather than selling out to 2H.

    I don't see why 2NT wouldn't be natural in this sequence but it should show more values. 2S looks like a nice spot except when partner has 33(34). Partner should absolutely never raise to game in spades; they have an easy 3H force available for further investigation. You obviously would have to bid 2S with Kxxx/QTx/Jxx/Jxx so there's no way 2S guarantees 5.

    With bad hands, like the example, get out as low as possible. That is in 2S.

    Partner will never go overboard in spades without further investigation. If they do, get a new one - bridge is a partnership game, not a game where one player guesses which game to play.