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.

  • 1
    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, 2019 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. Dec 13, 2019 at 7:24

4 Answers 4


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.

  • 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 2:48

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.

  • 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, 2019 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. Dec 7, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 11:06
  • @TomAu: Bad bridge remains bad bridge - regardless of your partner. I have serious doubts that even [Alvin Roth](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Roth_(bridge) and Tobias Stone would regard this hand as unsuitable for an Opening Bid of 1D. Dec 13, 2019 at 12:56

I would open the example hand of (s) KQx (h) --- (d) KJ9xxx (c) K8xx. with 1D every time.

There is room for judgement and partnership style, and if your partner really does insist on a solid 13 HCP for an opening, then a weak 2 is better than a pass, but I wouldn't ant to play again with a partner who opened this with 2D.

As for the concern about 1D being overcalled with 1H, if they have a heart fit, they also have a bad split and may well get in too deep, expecting a better trump split.

There are many hands partner might hold where game can be made, but is unlikely to be reached after a 2D opening. For example, if partner holds:

AJxxx; xxx; Qx; Axx

After an opening of 2D you probably get a bid of 3D passed out, or possibly raised to 5D. If Ogust is used 5D is likely, and 3NT possible, but 4S will never be reached. Over 1D the auction might be

P - P - 1D - P

1S - P - 3S - 4S

Played in spades I would expect 5 spade tricks, 1 or 2 heart ruffs, 4 or 5 diamond tricks after the suit is set up; and 2 club tricks. There are no spade losers, no heart losers, 1 diamond loser, and no club losers. A small slam is a likely result.

Even with a weaker hand for partner, such as

ATxxx; xxx; Qx; Qxx (9 HCP) 4S might very well make, but will not be bid after 2D.

  • 1
    I took the liberty of changing Jd to Qd in your example. I had KJd, so you can't.
    – Tom Au
    Jan 25, 2021 at 4:09
  • 1
    How many tricks are you making in a Spade contract on Heart lead, and a duck of the first round of Diamonds? How many if Spades break 4-1? Game probably makes on careful play, but the fastest and surest way to go down is to start counting 11 or 12 tricks before the hand is properly set up. Even ducking a Heart opening lead might be worth considering. Communication will be delicate. In IMPs I definitely prefer 5D to 4S as a final contract. Jan 25, 2021 at 7:20
  • @Forget with a 4-1 spade break and a H lead, there would be a problem yes. When opps get in with the Ace of D, another H is led. I don't aee that ducking a D helps opps.. If two H are ruffed, declrare may not be able to avoid a trump looser and a a 3rd H lead. I never said it was cold. At IMPs 5D might be safer, yes. Jan 25, 2021 at 15:50

Almost all 12 hcp point hands should be opened at the one level (a stronger bid than a "weak two.") The main exception is a hand with a "flat" 4-3-3-3 distribution, something like (s) KQx (h) xxx (d) KJxx (c) Kxx. (All x's are 7 or lower.) This should be passed because you need to subtract one point for the bad distribution, making the adjusted total 11.

Your hand with six diamonds and no hearts is clearly better than the passing hand above, so you should open it with one diamond.

Take away the jack of diamonds so you have (s) KQx (h) --- (d) K9xxxx (c) K8xx. (All x's are 7 or lower), and you should still open one diamond with 11 hcps and six diamonds. Change the distribution to (s) KQx (h) x (d) K9xxx (c) K8xx. (All x's are 7 or lower), that is five diamonds and one heart, and you might consider passing. And I would pass with (s) KQx (h) xx (d) K9xxx (c) K8x. (All x's are 7 or lower), that is a 5-3-3-2 distribution and only 11 hcps.

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