At matchpoints, with only them vulnerable, I was defending against a strong two club sequence bid by a husband and wife team.

Wife opened 2 clubs (strong) on my right with ♠ AK64 ♡AQ ♢AQ ♣ KJ742. Husband bid 2 diamonds (waiting) after my pass.

If opener rebids 2 of a major after these two bids, a responder who has a bust can plead "double negative" with 2NT, which allows opener to rebid only three of the major (that is less than game). If opener rebids 2NT, responder can pass at that point to invoke the double negative. At least that's the way we play in our club.

But wife bid 3 clubs. Husband was supposed to bid on, even with only ♠ 97 ♡97642 ♢J962 ♣ Q9. But he passed, and the couple got a top because they made 3 clubs and all the other players with their cards went down at 3NT.

Should wife have limited her re-bid to 2NT and given her husband the option of passing (and earning the top)? I don't see the point of her bidding three clubs with her hand. (If I plan to rebid three clubs after a strong two, I would want extra strength, i.e. six clubs to go with my 22 high card points, or 25 high card points if I only had five, because it takes 11 tricks to make a club game. And the three club bid forecloses responder's 2NT "double negative" option.)

  • Everyone I know plays 3C rather than 2N as the double negative.. In this case, are you sure they play 2D as waiting rather than as strictly negative? (But, yes, I rebid 2N with that hand, and with AKxx A AQx KQJxx I open 1C, not 2C) Commented Feb 5 at 11:36
  • @AlexanderWoo: In our club, 2d is "waiting," not necessarily negative, and 2NT is the second negative. A 3 club bid precludes this double negative and is forcing. 2NT (by opener) is not.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 5 at 15:59
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    The standard second bid double negative in North America is 3C over 2H/S, 3D over 3C, and 3H over 3D. Many players now prefer an immediate double negative, where a 2D response promises an ace, a king, QJ suited, or 2 queens, and one responds to 2C with 2H with less than that (and responds 2N to 2C with a heart positive) There are different arguments as to which of those two is better, but they are definitely both better than 2N double negative, because 2N double negative will wrongside many contracts. Commented Feb 5 at 20:36
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    I'm going to say the quiet bit out loud: (1) This partnership has serious ethical issues. (2) It's hardly relevant, because they get 3+ bottoms for every 2 tops and rarely finish above a 45% game, never mind a 50% game. (3) In consequence, analyzing their bidding is a fools' errand . Commented Feb 6 at 2:18
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    @ForgetIwaseverhere: You are right. The majority of the couple's scores are 45% or lower. The wife does better when not partnered with husband.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 6 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


I agree that opener should have rebid 2NT after 2C-2D. If she wanted to show a strong club-spade two-suiter, she should have opened one club and shown the spades with a game-forcing rebid (eg 1C-1H-2S). That would have been a reasonable approach with e.g AKJx AQX x AKJxx. With her actual hand, with mediocre clubs, semi-balanced shape, and values in her short suits, 2C then 2NT is the best description.

Second, I agree that opener's actual sequence was forcing and should show better strength and/or shape than she actually had.

Finally, I disagree that 2NT would be negative after 2C-2D-2 of a major. Typically 3C is used as the double negative rebid. 2NT is forcing for one round and denies a 3-card fit for opener's major. Many pairs will have discussions that differentiate hands that rebid 2NT vs 3NT. It is losing bridge for 2NT to show a negative hand, because 3NT is one of the most likely landing spots after 2C-2D-2M.

It is also perfectly reasonable to play without a double negative bid after a 2C opener. In these auctions, defenders have few clues from the auction when making their opening lead; your best chance at a good score may be to land in a thin game that makes through misdefense. Moreover, if you only open 2C when balanced, single-suited, or have game in hand (preferring to open at the one level with two-suiters without game in hand), the double negative from partner is rarely relevant and takes away space that may be used more profitably to find the right game or slam.


I agree with pretty much everything ruds said. Just adding a few pieces too long to fit into a comment.

  • I think that in very distant past 2NT would have been the second negative after 2C-2D-2Major. This is on its way out for the reasons described in ruds's answer.
  • Search for a convention name cheaper minor. This is used as a double negative in sequences starting with 2C. The idea is exactly to avoid wrong-siding NT contracts. This usually won't consume too much bidding space, but there is the problem of how to show the double negative after 2C-2D-3D. That gives a headache even for very good players. See a poll at Bridgewinners.

Alexander Woo mentioned the possibility of using 2C-2H as an immediate double negative (when 2C-2D is waiting, semipositive, and always forcing to game). I play this with my regular partner, but we have extensive system notes. That is necessary because:

  • The responder (to a 2C opening) needs a way of showing a positive hand with 5+hearts. Many players use 2C-2NT for that.
  • But you also need to find ways for the opener to describe their hand now that the 2H rebid has been taken from them! Or rather, the opener need not describe much, they simply need to ask whether the bust partner has any support (lengthwise) to the 2C-openers major (or the minor on very rare occasions)!! Realizing this my partner came up with the idea of using 2C-2H(bust)-2S as a bid asking primarily about major suit lengths. Still, we ended up agreeing on requiring a 2C opening to be a bit stronger than what the average local club players do. For example, we use 2NT for opening balanced hands in the 22-23 range (we already had some strong balanced hands in our 1C opening). Anyway, my point here is that doing this requires extensive discussions for relatively rare gains.

The last thing I wanted to say is not to worry about your opps getting a good score on this board. They were very lucky. Change the club 7 into a tenner, and 3NT is more attractive (not a gimme by any means, but better, because declarer can then force an entry to the dummy in clubs). Also, move one of the opener's low spades into hearts, and 4H is beginning to look attractive. A fluke, I think. If someone with insider information knows the pair to have a history of ethically dubious actions, do check with the TD. In my opinion this board alone is insufficient evidence of anything like that.

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    The husband is just a bad bidder. The wife was the TD. She told her husband, "You weren't supposed to pass my 3 clubs bid.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Feb 19 at 4:31
  • LOL! Thanks for the explanation, @Tom. Commented Feb 19 at 4:34
  • Actually, the possible simple systems after a 2C opening were discussed in this old thread. Commented Feb 19 at 4:42

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