Why Is Two Clubs the Preferred "Strong Two" In Bridge?

I'd prefer to use two spades myself. And save two clubs for a "weak two." Moreover, I was taught that "higher bids mean higher points" (all other things being equal). Two spades is the highest suit bid short of "pre-empts," and follows this rule. Two clubs doesn't.

With a five card (or better) major suit and 22+ points, I'm really asking for HCP from partner more than anything else. Because I'm going to assume (on averages) that partner has xxx or Qx in my suit. The expected responses (and points) are:

2NT 0-2 points. (No help. You're on your own). 3 Clubs 3-5 points. (One trick. Game possible with a reasonable fit.) 3 Diamonds 6-8 points. (Two tricks. Probable game, except with a terrible fit. Limited slam interest). 3 Hearts 9-11 points. (Three tricks. Possible slam.) 3 Spades 10-12 points. (Small slam or grand?)

The only "problem" is if my suit is hearts, and partner bids 3 hearts with 9-11 points (about half of mine). But that is a nice problem to have!

Under this system, spades would actually be my "real" suit almost half the time. (Hearts, the other half, plus the occasional NT, and with a minor, I'd use a different system.) You can't say that about a two club bid.

So why would you use two clubs over a system such as I've described? Or could you possibly prefer mine?

• So with AKQJT98, - , Q3, AKQJ, all you need to know is how many HCP partner has? Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 17:36
• Since we were talking about Precision the other day, I seem to recall that 2C in Precision describes an above averagely good opening hand that is much the strongest (6+ length) in clubs. But of course your strong bid is still clubs, just at the one level... Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 17:53
• @TOm: After your 3S, what would partner do with a singleton/void spade? Why is spades the agreed trump? Why should the next bid by partner be a control showing bid? I was mainly disputing the claim that one should be mainly interested in HCP compared to anything else... Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 18:24
• @Tom: What is a strong enough suit? AKQxxx? Anyway, you seem to be trying to go back in time. The strong 2 bids have been discarded by players over the years. You should be able to find plenty arguments against it on the web. Good luck with your system. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 18:42
• @aryabhatta: What I do in "real life," I'll do at the bridge table. In this case, "turn back the clock." Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 18:56

2 Clubs is the most useful because it leaves the 2 level open for you to describe your hand. Your side has the preponderance of strength, and thus your side would benefit the most from the extra bidding space. Conversely, keeping 2 Spades preemptive prevents your opponents from starting to investigate their hands on the 2 level. If your opponents have a heart fit, they can start to investigate it with a 2 heart bid over a preemptive 2 clubs, while they would have to start with 3 hearts over a preemptive 2 spades.

The system of responses you describe is one that exists in various formats, called Step Responses, where the weaker partner quantitatively reveals the strength of his hand to the 2 club bidder so that he may make a guess as to whether end up in game or slam.

I agree with what dpmattingly says - clubs is a useful level to bid at when you are looking for a response from your partner. Spades is a useful level to bid at when you're trying to deny bidding room to your opponents. You don't need to deny bidding room to your opponents when you have a strong hand - they may be scared to leap in and earn a costly double. You need to go as high as you can though if you are trying to lock then out of a contract that is theirs on points - only by seriously severing their lines of communication by depriving them of LOTS of bidding space do you stand a chance of achieving your desired result.

(I used to play with beginners who used to do things like overcall a strong 2C bid with a 2D bid. I hope you can say that that deprives the opponents of no bidding space whatsoever, just gives them a huge amount of valuable information about the lie of the cards!)

I'd add to what dp says, that clubs are a great suit to bid to conventionally describe a strong hand... because clubs are a rubbish suit for actual non-conventional, hand-describing bids. You almost never want to be in a clubs contract if you can help it - unless you're making a slam. 3NT is almost always better than 5C, and it's so much better than 4C you wouldn't believe it. I'd almost go so far as to say any system that actively discourages you and your partner from finding club fits is better than one that doesn't!

For all these reasons, 2C is a much better place for your strong 2 bid than 2S. It's become a standard for a reason - don't try to reinvent the wheel!

• One of the main reasons for the death of the strong 2H,2S etc bid is the effectiveness as a preemptive bid. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 18:47
• Not sure the advantage of him having 2S as the strong bid isn't being able to use 2C as a pre-empt or as a bid showing good clubs, forcing the opponents to start higher at the times they are more likely to outbid you. Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 8:28

A defining feature of the 2 club "strong two" is that it makes the responder the "captain" of the partnership.

After a sequence of 2 diamonds, opener rebids the "real" suit, in a "two club" (strong two) opening, the opener has largely described his or her hand within very narrow parameters. Because of the strength of the opening hand, every point or feature in the responder's hand becomes much more valuable at the margin due to their scarcity. With a "double Yarborough" (zero high card points and zero cards in the opener's suit), and the responder should pass; (opener will probably be held to eight tricks). Three points and three cards in the suit, game values. (You probably have one "top" and/or ruffing trick for the ninth, and a finesse into declarer's hand may yield the tenth.) Around 10 high card points and/or a double suit fit, possible slam. The responder has been made captain because s/he is in a better position to observe these values.

The "two spade" system sacrifices this major advantage. It is a "demand," bid, not only for responses, but for information. By hearing your "strong two" bid and seeing their own hand, the responder knows more about the combined partnership assets than you do. Yet the system retains the "captaincy" in the opening hand, which is inefficient, to say the least.

• Very nice description. One small subtlety to add: this fact, that the 2C opening makes Responder captain, should be regarded by Opener as a defining characteristic for a 2C Opening. More complex hands, no matter how strong, must be opened 1 of a suit instead. Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 23:16
• @ForgetIwaseverhere: Changed the second word of the post from "important" to "defining." In response to your other comment, I require a higher threshold for two clubs if my suit is a minor than a major for this reason. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 3:19
• You might want to correct the `Your`. It's pretty confusing, since you are also the asker of the question :)
– Joe
Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 18:30
• @Joe: This is "standard" SE terminology. In answering your own questions on SE, you are supposed to pretend that you are not also the questioner. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 18:54
• Perhaps, but I don't think the pronoun is necessary here - it would be easier to just say "The". Standard or not, it's confusing. :)
– Joe
Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 19:28