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In bridge, if you overcall two clubs over an opening one spade, you haven't taken up much bidding space, because your overcall hasn't kept your opponents out of any suits, only one NT.

If you overcall two clubs over one diamond, you've done quite a bit more damage, because you have prevent your opponents from bidding a major (or no trump) at the one level.

Does it therefore follow that you can overcall two clubs with a slightly weaker hand over one diamond than a one spade bid because the "disruption" to the opponents is significantly greater?

That is, assuming all other things being equal, like vulnerability and part scores. Perhaps the type of game might make a difference in the answers.

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There's a world of difference between "Can one ...?" and "Should one ...?" I can rob a bank, but I shouldn't and won't. What is your question, as your use of can actually implies a question of legality in this case rather than appropriateness and wisdom. –  Pieter Geerkens Jul 27 at 13:35
    
@PieterGeerkens: OK, changed to "should." –  Tom Au Jul 28 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The short answer is that your supposition is correct. Just be sure to discuss it with your partner since you always want him to know what to expect.

For more see Mike Lawrence's The Complete Book of Overcalls in Contract Bridge.

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I like to think that 1-level overcalls have three purposes, at least two of which should be fulfilled to justify the overcall:

  1. Showing values
  2. Directing the defense (ie showing a good suit you want partner to lead)
  3. Preempting the opponents

So eg I'm happier to overcall 1S over 1C with a weaker hand than over 1H.

2-level overcalls are trickier. It is far easier for opponents to penalize you at the 2-level, and it's more difficult for your side to make the game-partscore decision when you have the bulk of the high cards because there's less bidding room.

One rule I've heard is that a minimum opener with 5332 shape is insufficient for a 2-over-1 overcall, but many ten-counts with a good 6-card suit are sufficient. And it does seem reasonable to stretch a little to bid 2C over 1D, but not too far. As a friend of mine likes to say, 2-level overcalls are serious business.

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I've kind of wondered about 2. If South opens 1 spade, and you're West (in the direct seat), you're going to open anyway. If you're East, you will need to overcall to direct the lead, but then you're in the balancing seat, where a different set of rules apply. –  Tom Au Jul 26 at 23:24
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Sometimes responder becomes declarer (especially when the opening bid was one of a minor). Sometimes you have a broken honor holding in your suit and can't afford to lead it yourself, so you hope to get partner in with your opening lead so they can switch to your suit. –  ruds Jul 27 at 0:41

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