Not vulnerable versus vulnerable, I was sitting third position with the following hand: (s) KQx (h) --- (d) KJ9xxx (c) K8xx. (All x's are 7 or lower.)

I opened 2D, a "weak two" after two passes. One of the opponents protested that my holdings exceeded the 6-10 hcp point range for a weak two. Technically, I had 12 hcp, but I downgraded my hand for the following reasons:

  1. I subtracted 1+ points for the lack of aces and Ts.
  2. My KQx of spades was a "clunky" holding whose true value was closer to 4 points (a single ace) than 5.Between this and 1), I adjusted the value of my hand to 10 hcp.
  3. My lack of hearts meant that the opponents would have a heart fit unless partner had six. A bid of one diamond would be easily overcalled 1H, an opening bid of two diamonds would have some preemptive value.
  4. Partner either had less than six hearts, or if he did have six and passed, he was very weak, meaning that with my RHO also having passed, LHO (fourth seat) would be very strong.*

The opponent felt that my bid preempted partner. I said that I have "barely" an opening hand (with a minor suit), and partner's pass said he didn't, so I had little fear of missing game. Was I really too strong to open one diamond instead of two?

*If I had 12 hcps in say first seat, I would attribute an average of about 9 hcps to the remaining three players. With two passes to my right, I guessed that they would average 7 hcps each, 14 in total. Adding 12 for me would leave 14 for my LHO, and most finesses would be "onside" for him.

  • Third seat preempts could include hands which you would open normally. With a passed partner you can preempt a lot more freely. In this case I would say it is not a good idea: you have defensive values and against a passed hand you can potentially still make game (which you will never find if you preempt). There is no need to find excuses to downgrade. People will have better results if they stopped downgrading altogether. Even if you decide to preempt, 2D isn't really helping you (opps will likely find their fit). Perhaps try 3D. – Aryabhata Dec 6 '19 at 22:10
  • At these colors and in 3rd seat, a 2D-opening could easily be something like x, xxx, QJT9xx, Qxx. Just be a good boy, and bid 1D. You won't have any rebid problems either. If you want to pre-empt, bid 3D (might be a tactical choice of some merit if your majors were reversed). But, any pre-empt also invites partner to sacrifice over their 4 of a major. This hand is not a dead duck on defence, so that may backfire. – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 13 '19 at 7:24

You have underbid this hand by about 8 points.

This hand should not only be opened 1D, it can seriously consider a jump rebid of 3D showing 16+ total points. Courtenay would count it as a five-loser hand, two tricks better than an opening bid at seven losers.

You may not have any aces - just a 1/2 point deduction - but you have tremendous shape, working jacks to upgrade, and good spots.

If partner has as little as ATxx xxx Qxxx Ax, a bit less than opening values in first seat at an unappetizing eleven points, you are making 6 Diamonds.

If Partner has instead just Axxx xxx Axxx JT five diamonds is excellent and six has chances.

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  • @TomAu: Oops! Changed my mind on the example hand and forgot to rewrite the comment. Added a second example. The key is two non-Heart aces and a fit, and five diamonds has at least a chance. – Forget I was ever here Dec 7 '19 at 6:37
  • New club, new partner (new city). My new partner was glad I didn't open 1d; he wants 13 hpcs (I had 12) or 2.5 quick tricks (I had 2.0) from partner (or himself) for defensive purposes. He preferred my 2d offense heavy bid, and my 3d rebid, opposite his xx in diamonds. LHO had 17 hpcs and 6 hearts, in line with my fears. It seems to me that the thing to do is to make the policy "official;" tell the club that "weak 2" could be up to 12 hcps with less than 2.5 quick tricks when "Bob and Tom" are partners. – Tom Au Dec 7 '19 at 19:46
  • @TomAu: Check the ACBL Convention chart - I believe that is an illegal convention except in Extended Team Play: i.e. that a "weak two" must be weaker than an opening bid - total points not HCP. – Forget I was ever here Dec 7 '19 at 20:05
  • Weak 2 is fine at 12 if that’s not an opening bid in their conventions. 6-12 is a common range for weak 2s. – Joe Dec 7 '19 at 21:46
  • My new partner is the most conservative player in the club (I'm the new "second."). Bob said after the hand, "I'm glad you didn't bid 1d with that hand." (He wants 13 hcps (I had 12) or 2.5 quick tricks (I had 2.0) for an opening bid, because he wants defensive tricks for doubling opponents.) Partnered with Bob (and no one else), my hand was not worth an opening bid. Also, my reading (or misreading) of the convention chart is that an opening bid must be be stronger than the weak two range, not that the "two" bid had to be weaker than the opening bid. – Tom Au Dec 13 '19 at 11:06

I'd rather bid 1d there, not 2d. I think it's as likely you have game as they do; unlikely in either case, really. But you're discounting your partner having, first seat, something like ten points and a five card spade suit. That's 4S in the bag, if the points are useful ones (not wasted QH or whatnot). 6-7 spade tricks, a few in diamonds and clubs, and you're all set. You don't want to miss that!

Really, you have more like a 14 count here anyway - with the diamond length and the void, your hand is worth more than a normal 12 counter. Bid 1d and see what happens - you might end up in a makeable 3NT, 4S, or who knows what else.

If your 4th seat opponent has a 12-14 count, they're probably not in game anyway - as you said, they have 7 opposite them on average, right? - and so you're not preempting anything useful. On the other hand, if they have an 18 count or whatnot, where a game is a likelihood, your preempt was pretty useless in my opinion - they can double, get some information from their partner since they have to bid over the double, and be in just as good of a position as if you hadn't bid at all.

One other thing: if you're going to do this regularly, you'll need to annotate your convention card to indicate that your weak 2 range is 6-12 3rd seat.

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  • Regarding "conventions," my partner and I play that an opening 1 bid requires at least 13 hcps or 2.5 quick tricks. Here I have 12 hcps and 2.0 quick tricks, meaning that I'm not supposed to bid 1D But with my "opening" values, I would bid 2D. I'm new to the club, but the others know about my (new) partner's preferences. – Tom Au Dec 6 '19 at 17:05
  • You're certainly not required to open with that - though I'd consider such requirements in third seat fairly old-fashioned - but it's certainly a matter of personal preference. (You also aren't counting any length/shortness points here, either of which would take you to 13.) But on the other hand, if that hand is a weak 2, your card must indicate that in the section on 2 level openers (as opposed to saying 5-10, which does not include the above hand by any reasonable definition of points). – Joe Dec 6 '19 at 21:40
  • Actually, my partner was more concerned about defensive tricks than missing game. He said that he wanted 2.5 quick tricks for 1d, because with 9 hcps, he would not want to double an opposing two level bid, whereas he might if you changed KQx of spades to AKx of spades, and downgraded K of clubs to J of clubs to compensate. So it seems that the solution (after consulting partner) would be to declare to the rest of the club that "6-10" could be "6-12" if we have fewer than 2.5 quick tricks in the hand. – Tom Au Dec 6 '19 at 22:28
  • Sure, that's fine, or even just leave it at 6-10 and just pass this hand. There's no rule saying your weak 2 range and your opening range must be adjacent. – Joe Dec 7 '19 at 2:48

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