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In a "strong two" sequence of 2 clubs, pass, 2 diamonds, pass, I rebid 2NT, I'm saying that I can make 3NT with just a little help from partner. I would do this with a balanced distribution and 22 or more high card points. Responder is expected to raise to 3NT with 4 hcps or more.

In a "strong two" sequence of 2 clubs, pass, 2 diamonds, pass, I rebid 3NT, I'm saying that I can make 3NT with no or minimal help from partner (maybe a stray "ten" or sufficient length in my key suit to help me drop opposing honors).

(I reserve a direct 3NT for the "gambling" bid (with a long, strong, minor suit), so with a point count in the high 20s, I first bid two clubs, followed by 3NT.)

I have a vague recollection that a NT bid cannot have a range greater than five points. If that were the case, I could follow 2 clubs with 2NT for 22-26 points, but would need to bid 3NT with 27 in this style.

Is this rule generally true? And if so, does it apply in the case of a "strong two" sequence, rather than a "standalone" bid? The reason I'm concerned is that if dummy has "nothing," my 25-26, and even 27 high card points probably won't make 3NT, because I lack "transportation" to dummy.

This might be true even though the same point count could make 3NT if dummy had as many as 8-9 points of the combined points of the two hands. Left to my own devices, I would require 28, not 27 points for a "solo" 3NT bid. Or is this concern less valid than not if you have 27 hcps and a balanced hand?

3 Answers 3

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At least on the ACBL Open+ chart, the 5 point range only applies to 1NT openings. Your convention is permitted any range.

This is not to say the ranges you describe make sense, just that you’re welcome to use any of them.

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  • I'd only add: "What stakes do you play for; and at what club? My bank account could use a little top up." Feb 3, 2022 at 16:02
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Tables of data:

http://www.rpbridge.net/8j25.htm

With 25 opposite 1 and both hands balanced, you make 3N about 45% of the time. With 26 opposite 1, you make 3N about 65% of the time. This is double dummy. Opponents are actually quite likely to give you a trick on the opening lead, so your actual odds are better. In addition, when you have 25, partner is actually very likely to have at least 2. (On average they have 5!) I don't think it's really worth worrying about.

Here's the problem when rebidding 2N with 25. Partner presumably has to pass with 2 points, since you might have only 22. But, in fact, when you have 25, partner is more likely to have exactly 2 than to have 0 or 1. So, when you have 25, rebidding 2N actually loses more often than it wins. It's even worse vulnerable at rubber/IMPs, when it pays to bid games that have about a 40% chance of making (and that's assuming opponents double when you go down, which they probably don't here), and so 25 opposite 1 is a good game to bid.

A fair number of advanced-to-expert players play Kokish after 2C, for which the sequence 2C-2D-2H shows either a 24+ balanced hand or hearts. Responder is essentially forced to bid 2S (with 0-1 points and one or both minors, responder bids 2N with both minors or 3C/3D with that minor), after which opener clarifies.

Also, many players play that a 2D response to 2C shows some values (exact details vary) and one responds 2H with nothing. (This could be in addition to Kokish.) That can also help, but it does have downsides. (In contrast, if you also play Grue switches for the unbalanced hand, Kokish is essentially free except for the memory load.)

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  • Looking at your table, it seems that my concerns for a 26-1 distribution was that the average number of tricks won is 8.96, that is less than 9.00. Yet 3NT makes a majority of the time. Is that because when you do go down, you go down by more than the usual "overage" when you do make the contract?
    – Tom Au
    Feb 3, 2022 at 9:20
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    No - it's because you're thinking of the number wrong. If you make exactly half the time and go down 1 half the time, then your average number of tricks won would be 8.5, not 9. Feb 3, 2022 at 16:22
  • OK, it seems I don't need to entirely "cover" my expectation (e.g. 9.00 tricks), only "half the difference" (between 8.00 and 9.00 or 8.50). Likewise, I can bid 2 clubs,, then 3NT over two diamonds with 25+ because I only need to "cover" 2-3 points, the top end responder's range, right? That makes up for the fact that I'm underdog with 25 if partner has 0-1.Thanks for your help.
    – Tom Au
    Feb 3, 2022 at 18:11
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    Obviously, it's better to design your bidding system so that you can find out. But if you can't find out (no bidding system can be perfect), you guess on the whole distribution, not the worst case. And guessing on the whole distribution includes remembering that 0 point hands are very rare, even when one player has 25. Feb 3, 2022 at 19:16
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An opening 2NT bid usually shows 20-22 points. So normal practice after a Two Club opening is to rebid 2NT with 23-24 points, and 3NT with 25+ points.

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  • This is more appropriate as a comment than an answer.
    – Tom Au
    Feb 14, 2022 at 17:35

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