Responding to Two Notrump

Neither side vulnerable
The bidding has gone:

2 NTPass

In Bridge World Standard, the pattern of responses to two notrump is similar to that after one notrump. Three clubs is Stayman, three of a red suit transfers to the major suit above (after which a raise is a slam try), three spades shows minors, three notrump is a signoff, four clubs is Gerber, four of a red suit transfers to the major suit above. After a three-level transfer, any notrump bid is natural; after a four-level transfer, four notrump is key-card Blackwood.

As South, what call do you make with each of the following:

(a) Q 5 3    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    10 6

(b) Q 10 5 3    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    6

(c) 6    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    Q 10 5 3

(d) 6    Q 8 2    Q 10 5 3    K 10 8 6 2

(e) 6    Q 8 7 6 4 3    J 10 2    10 8 2

(f) A 10 2    Q 8 7 6 4 3    K 8 2    6


Q 5 3    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    10 6

(a) Three diamonds. If partner accepts the transfer with three hearts, you will rebid three notrump. This offers partner a choice of games. The sequence suggests a spread-out hand, so North, if he is stuffed with secondary values or has strong notrump orientation, can opt to play three notrump even with a three-card heart fit.

Q 10 5 3    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    6

(b) Three clubs. This hand is too complicated for a transfer sequence. You must first try for a four-card major in opener's hand. If opener bids three diamonds, denying a major, you will rebid three hearts to show the five-card suit. This sequence suggests unbalanced distribution, so partner should raise to four hearts with a three-card fit.

6    K 10 8 6 2    Q 8 2    Q 10 5 3

(c) Three clubs. If you transfer to three hearts and rebid three notrump, partner will too often pass when he holds three hearts; he will think you have a hand like (a). If you start with three clubs, then rebid three hearts over three diamonds, partner will get your side to the best contract most of the time. The danger of this approach is that partner may bid three spades over three clubs, in which case you will be forced to rebid three notrump without investigating hearts. However, three notrump will often be the right contract then, even when partner has three hearts.

6    Q 8 2    Q 10 5 3    K 10 8 6 2

(d) Three notrump. A minor-suit contract could be right, but if you bid three spades to show minors you will get past three notrump too often. (A minor-showing sequence would be more attractive if you could suggest your major-suit shape as well, but when the opening is two notrump you can't do that.) The three-spade response should be reserved for hands with which you have strong interest in the minors--slam ambitions, or concentrated strength, or ten or more cards in the minors.

6    Q 8 7 6 4 3    J 10 2    10 8 2

(e) Four diamonds. With its weak heart spots, this is a borderline hand. You have two options: (1) always drive to game, in which case you should bid four diamonds to transfer; (2) bid three diamonds, intending to stop at three hearts if partner simply accepts the transfer (reaching game only if he shows a good hand for hearts--perhaps from the wrong side). Either of those plans is OK. What you must not do is, (3), bid three diamonds and then decide to go on to game after partner bids only three hearts--that would be a slam try.

A 10 2    Q 8 7 6 4 3    K 8 2    6

(f) Three diamonds.With the good controls on the side, this is just enough for a slam try. However, if partner bids three hearts you can do no more than show general slam interest with a raise to four hearts. Four clubs does not show shortness (this sequence is needed to show hearts and clubs), and a jump to five clubs gets you above the level of security.

(Adapted from "Rate Your Own Game" in The Bridge World.)


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