2 Opening


When to open 2?

(i)   Any balanced hand with 23+ HCP.
(ii)   Any unbalanced hand with a strict LTC  maximum count of 3 1/2 LTC.
(iii)  Exclusions: Any 5+-5+

The basis of the initial response is to indicate presence of Aces & Kings.

An Ace is counted as '2' and a King as '1' Italian control.
Controls present in partner's hand gives the 2 opener important information:

There are 2 types of Negative responses (0 controls)

2                Step 1: Neither  A|K  Nor  any 7+ card suit.
3any              Steps 5-8 No A|K, any 7 card suit OR a 6 card suit headed by Q. This is called a 'Break-out'. E.g:   2 - 3 : shows a break-out in Diamonds

Positive responses-steps 2, 3 & 4

2                Either 1 Ace OR 1or2 Kings (That's: 1 or 2 controls)
                Either 2 Aces OR 1 Ace & 1 or 2 Kings OR No Aces but 3 or 4 Kings (That's: 3 or 4 controls)
2NT              5+  controls. (That's 5 or 6 controls)
If  7+, can it really happen?  one may need to correct the level of the final contract bid by your partner who is not aware of at least a missing king or even an Ace!

If intervention precedes responder's response then your 4 steps are modified as follows:

  1. PASS  : shows a negative 2 response - no worry partner gets another bid!
  2. *|**     : shows a normal 2 response 1-2 controls
  3. Next suit : shows a normal 2 response 3-4 controls
  4. Next+1 suit : shows a normal 2N response 5+ controls
  5. Then Next+2 and beyond  Shows breakouts. To avoid confusion, the usual 3x bids should be used if available, however if 3 is displaced then use 3N instead etc. In practice it will be rare indeed that more would be displaced and opponents risk penalties!
Breakouts are only shown beyond the 4th step i.e. 3C and beyond
As is the custom throughout responder always includes NT bids in his step responses.
E.g. 2-2(intervention)-2NT..  steps would be (P * 2 2N) thus the 4th step 5+ Controls would be 2N as usual & 3...3 shows breakouts ..
Only an interventions of 2 or above, shifts the negative responses of breakouts tot: 3D 3H 3S 3N(clubs)

2 bidder's rebid following a negative response 2 or break-out or PASS following any intervention:
2 bidder's rebid following a positive response (steps 2,3 or 4) -  following options are available:-
Note: If responder has declared 5+ controls by bidding the 4th step, then it is slam forcing: Usual choice is whether  to play 6N or 7N!

  The 2 opener still remains totally in charge even if partner makes a break-out. The  theory is that with a strong hand facing a weak hand that a Question-Answer approach makes most sense - making responder totally subservient! However if opener attempts to close at the 5 or 6 level, the responder, with a GOOD reason opener is not aware of, may proceed to 6 or 7 level ~ BUT NEVER CHANGE THE DENOMINATION CHOSEN

Options for continuation after a break-out are:

Two possible uses can be made of these length requests.
A) If declarer considers to play in his suit he may check the length partner holds
B) If declarer is considering playing in the breakout suit it can be used to determine if his losers are covered by shortages in his partner's hand 

Note: Assuming a 7 card suit - likely distributions are 7222, 7321, 7330, 7420, 7411.
Note: if the required step response reaches or exceeds 4NT THEN response must be the normal response to a 4N request (either forK's or Q's)

Following a 'length' requests:
Note: Opener will specify the final contract: a suit at 5+ Level or 6|7 level in NT.

How 2 bidder handles RHO intervention

(A) If partner had made a normal step response (i.e when he did not receive prior intervention)
Opener rebids as follows:

Ex1: 2-2-(2 opponent) then:
PASS = Heart trump request (suit - 1). 2NT can also show Hearts
* = Diamonds TR REQ (suit -2)
3 =  Clubs TR REQ (Next bid: Natural)
3NT = To play.

Ex2: 2-2-(* opponent) then:
PASS = Heart trump request (suit -1)
2NT = Spade trump request - Space saving (unusual in this sequence! but possible)
** = Diamond trump request (suit-2)
3 = Club trump request (Next suit -Natural)
3NT = To play.

Ex3: 2-2-(3 opponent) then:
PASS = Spade TR REQ (suit-1)
* = Heart TR REQ (suit-2)
3 = Natural Diamond  TR REQ (suit+1)
3NT = To Play

(B) If partner made a positive response after intervention & RHO Passes
Note1: NT bids are always included in responder's steps.
Note2: If RHO bids too see above
Partner has bid PASS, */**, +1, +2 (PASS is negative 1st Step)

Ex 1: 2-2H(opp)-2-PASS(opp)   Then partner has shown 3-4 controls (3rd step):
2NT = partner's response suit : TR REQ in Spades
3NT = To Play
PASS = ILLEGAL? only if wanting to play in 2 - UNLIKELY
3 = Clubs TR REQ (+1 Natural)
3 = Diamonds TR REQ (+2 Natural)

Ex 2: 2
-*(opp)-**-PASS(opp)  Then partner has shown 1-2 controls (2nd step) Then:
|| are trump requests
2N is a trump request in Clubs (Not usual if opponents double showed Clubs)!
3NT is to play
Ex3. 2
-2H(opp)-PASS-PASS(opp) Then partner has shown 0 controls (1st step) Then:
Both 2NT & 3NT are to play (as usual over a negative response)
* is a trump request in Hearts (rare - space saving bid for Hearts if overcall is not showing Hearts!)
, 3 & 3 Are trump requests as usual

4NT may also be used for Kings (positive responses) or Queens (step 1, negative) as the case may be
Jump control requests may be made too

Following a Trump request and an initial negative response (1st step) 2 bidder now has 3 options:
(i) Bid 3NT's to play, if available.
(ii) Deleted  -no longer played as a 2nd trump request. A Rebid  in a new suit is now a control request - see below.
(iii) Rebid in his  TR request suit  is always a 'length' request. This can be used to show a long suit in a single suited hand.
(iv) Make a control request  in any NEW suit. This was previously played with jump
(v) Bid 4NT for Queens [responder has previously declared no Aces or Kings]

Following a trump request and a positive response (2-4steps) 2 bidder has these options:
(i) Make a control request usually in the suit with highest LTC. (Note: 3NT  is no longer natural and can now used to save bidding space for a cntrl request in partner's previous step response!)
(ii) Bid 4NT for kings
(iii) Rebid his trump suit at any level
Note: The trump suit is usually set by a positive trump response - but other contracts can be selected  by the 2 bidder at the slam level - partner must not 'correct' to the previously apparently agreed suit - remember the 2 bidder is responsible for the final denomination. There is a small leeway for a responder to bid 7 over 6  or 6 over 5 with good reason.

Following a negative response to a 2nd Trump Request
3NT: To Play
4NT: For Kings (Queens if a negative initial response)
New suit (any level): To Play

Following a control request and a negative response (1st step) 2 bidder has the following options:
(i) Make a further control request Note: one can be made if their is bidding room for at least 1 step short of 4NT. For example 4 is highest possible control request with a 4 negative response and 5, 5 etc showing 0, 1 etc Kings AS IF 4NT had been requested AND also implying the 2nd step or possible better to the 4 request or 3rd step or possibly better to a 4 request.
(ii) Bid 4NT for kings (Queens if a negative initial response or initial breakout)
(iii) Rebid his trump suit at game or higher level
to play
(iv) Rebid his suit below game is a 'length' request. 2-steps only
Top honour A|K|Q   e.g Kx
Otherwise xxx

Further Examples!

Ex1 A straightforward slam?
AJ8                      6
AKQ74               T653
AQ                      KJ32
KQ6                    9543

2                       2 (POS: 1 control K)
2N( tr req)       3 (POS: 3rd step): Qxx...Jxxx inclusive
3( cr req)         4 (2nd step: 2nd round  Spadecontrol: KS or singleton)
4( cr req)       4  (2nd step: 2nd round Diamond control: KS or singleton)
6H   Worth a shot!

Ex2: more complicated! (note deductions)

A2                        K
96                         AKT872
KJT93                   8
9732                     AKQJ6

P                             2
2(3|4 cntrls)    3(tr req)  P showed an A+ K or 2 Aces or A+2K's - now makes a trump request in Hearts.
3(neg)                 4 (cntrl req)  P showed  <Jx in Hearts - so AK lie outside of Hearts also P has not a 6 card suit (he would break out if he had)
4(neg)                 4N              P deduces at least xxx in clubs  & asks for number of Kings held
5                           6             Partner shows one King (therefore also one ce): Its only a 50% slam but should be bid
No real need to ask 4N! as it commits you to 6 - cannot risk 6 as P may have only a singleton
Partner has either A| & K or both Aces

Ex3:  more complex deductions

2!       3(opp)          3 (3rd step: 3or 4 controls)    
3N (tr req in Hearts)   4 (2nd step Ax or xxx)
4  (length req in Hearts)  4   (neg 3 small cards A&K ignored therefore precisely 3 small cards)   With Ax he would reply 5 showing 1 small card and 1 King (4NT was the required response - therefore 5 showed his minor King. 5 would have shown 2 minor Kings in this sequence & 5 (0 kings and 1 small card: would have shown Ace Hearts and a minor suit Ace)
6  very good chances  either way . 

Note1: one can ask a length request in a potential trump suit announced with a trump request
Note2: it would be a mistake to make a trump request in Spades (stand alone suit)      

But we prefer a 3 opening with such 2-major suit hands:
3!  *(opp) 3N! (2 or more key cards)
4!                  4N! (4: shows 6-5 or better and void in clubs) :4N inquires for LTC
6                  Partner does not reply! and instead closes in 6. Usual Heart distributions are 7222 or 7321 or 7330 or bad luck 7411 or 7420...

A better contract than 6!

Illustrates the difficulty to show 2 big suits by 2 or even traditional methods BUT the advantage of 2-suited bids!

Ex4. With intervention & Breakout

North                                  South

-                                           KJ98754
KJT65                                  A
AK7542                               3
A7                                        J932

2(3 1/2 LTC)    *(E)          2! (3rd step  3-4 controls) P(W)
2H(Heart TR REQ)            3S(neg would be 2 & 3 is a breakout showing 6+ cards in Spades)
PASS or 4 or 5Diamonds? Its a misfit : PASS

Many might disagree with a 2 opening - its rock bottom! But could be very promising however it does just fit our definition.
The intervention by East (*) is a warning (that distribution is wild - don't we already know it?)
Partner shows the 3rd step - 3-4 controls - (PASS & Redouble are the first 2 steps)
Note1 A breakout cannot be shown here as a POSITIVE response takes precedence.
Note2 As Diamonds is almost a solid suit we give prefence to asking first in Hearts. Its also a Major suit & conserves bidding space.
Note3 <Jx shown in Hearts (Ace, is not a positive response). Now instead of a negative 2S bid a Breakout of 3S with a 7 card suit is a must!
Note 4 A hard problem for North now. Anything can be good or bad now! 4S is not a good option (partner may possibly only have 6 cards headed with AK or AQor worse... Also a game in 5  cannot yet be ruled out. Unfortunately checking the length of partners diamonds suit with a 4 bid (responses show length in 3 steps & the actual response would be 4 - showing singleton - which could be passed! The 3rd step would be 5 disasterous as 4NT is not allowed! showing a void and holding 1 King & 1 Ace) would lead us to 5 whatever the response. Leaving us with 2 options: PASS or 5 or 3NT!
Note5 The only game with a good chance of making on the actual hand is 3NT  whatever the lead!!!! and nobody would think of that....Most of the field played in 4S doubled or not doubled. Results -3 or -4.

Give partner a different hand and a slam appears! At least we had the option to stop in 3 Spades!