Eddie Kantar
   
 

The Weak Two Bid

Edited and updated 6-14-11

WHAT IS A WEAK TWO BID?

  • An opening bid of 2D, 2H, or 2S (not 2C)
  • Describing a hand with a strongish 6-card suit
  • Along with 7-9 HCP (6 or 10 HCP are exceptions, particularly 10).

It can be compared to an opening three bid, the difference is that a three bid normally shows a seven-card suit.

The distribution of the bidder’s Weak Two hand rates to be
     6-3-2-2, or
     6-3-3-1, or
     6-4-2-1. 
Notice: no five card side suits, no voids.  

Suit Strength

Suit strength can vary with the vulnerability and seat. Ideally three or four of the top five honors will head the suit. Practically, two of the top five honors along with the 98 or 97 attached will do just fine, thank you. Suits that look like: AK10765, AK9732, KQ9732, AJ9843, QJ10432, KJ9765 are fine. In addition, at favorable vulnerability liberties are allowed, particularly in 3rd seat.

Third seat weak twos (after partner has passed) are often made with a strong 5-card suit as a lead director. Partner is supposed to have four card support plus a side suit singleton or two side suit doubletons to raise a third seat weak two. Discipline!  

Opening the following hand-type with 2S in THIRD seat eliminates the necessity for many light third hand openings:       

S. KQJ105  
H. K8
D. J76
C. 765

Advantages

The advantages of opening a weak two are: 

(1) limiting the hand immediately;

(2) directing the opening lead;

(3) taking away bidding space from the opponents.

Assume you deal and hold:  

S. 98
H. AKJ986         
D. 98         
C. 1076

Not playing weak twos, you pass and hope to bid hearts later.    However "later" may not happen!

East (you)            South             West            North 
Pass                        1NT              Pass            3NT
Pass                        Pass             Pass

You can hardly expect your partner to lead a heart unless you beat on your chest. How much easier (and safer) to open 2H, limit the hand, and get the lead you want.

RESPONDING TO A WEAK TWO BID

Before considering your response, keep in mind that your partner has about 7/8 HCP along with a reasonable six card suit.

Your response depends to a large extent on how well you fit your partner's suit (unless you are blessed with an independent suit that can play opposite a singleton without trauma).

  • With a singleton in partner's suit and no strong suit of your own, do not even think of bidding on unless you have 16+ HCP.
  • With a small doubleton in partner's suit, you need about 15 HCP to bid on. However, with a doubleton honor (Ax, Kx, Qx), and an interesting looking hand (no wasted jacks or queens), 14 HCP will suffice.
  • Hands with three or four card support normally do something. Frequently you "further the preempt" by raising partner to the three or four level.   All you need is a little distribution plus a bunch of courage! Keep in mind the opponents figure to have a game, possibly a slam, so if they nail you with a penalty double and beat you a few tricks it may still be a good result.
    Rule: WHEN YOU AND YOUR PARTNER HAVE A 9-CARD FIT OR LONGER, THE OPPONENTS MUST HAVE AT LEAST AN 8-CARD FIT OR LONGER IN ANOTHER SUIT.
    Your advantage is that you know where your fit lies; the opponents have yet to find theirs. By raising your partner’s suit, you make it that much harder for your opponents to uncover  their fit.

EXAMPLES

Assume for the moment that your partner opens 2H and your right hand opponent passes.
     North (partner)    East      South (you)    West 
     2H                        Pass      ?
What are your options?

(1) Pass:
Don't even think of bidding on with the example beneath.  

AJxx    H. 2     D. KJ54    C. K943     

(2) Bidding a new suit:
A new suit in response to a weak two bid is forcing for one round.   Responder must have at least a strong five card suit,  more likely longer, with opening bid values.  With the example hand beneath, bid 2S, forcing for one round.  

Holding:   S. AKJ943     H. 2     D. AQ10    C. 109x       

(3) Raising to 3H: 
This is strictly preemptive and opener is not allowed to bid on.  Ever!  Responder could have less than the example hand that follows.

S. 87   H. K43    D. A9432    C. 976    Raise to 3H. 

(4) Raising to 4H (a two-edged sword).   
You may have a good hand with hopes of making 4H, or you may be furthering the preempt, taking an advance sacrifice, so to speak.  The opponents now have to find their fit at the four or five level never having had a chance to exchange any information and not know for sure what your intentions were. Raise to 4H with either hand.

S. AKJ3   H. Q5      D. 4       C. A76432  

S.  4     H. KJ43    D. KJ743   C. 1087  

(5) Responding 2 NT: 
A one round force asking partner to further describe the hand.  At this point the opener has several options.   Opener can:

  • Return to the original suit: The weakest of all rebids.
  • Raise to 3NT: Should only be done with a suit headed by the AQJ, AKJ, or exceptionally  the AKQ.
  • Show a feature — perhaps an ace or a king.
    For example, having opened 2H  with:

         S. 54      H. AJ10xxx      D. 54      C. K105

    In response to 2NT, bid 3C to show where your side suit strength lies. (A 2NT response followed by a new suit is forcing.) If partner then returns to the three level of the agreed suit, you are allowed to pass, but the sequence is invitational.

(6) Responding 3NT:
This response ENDS the bidding. Responder is not interested in hearing any more about opener's hand.   Responder usually has a solid minor perhaps with a singleton or void in opener's suit. An example hand for a 3NT response to a 2H opening:

     S. K4     H. 2     D. AKQJ876     C. K76  

(7) Responding 4NT:  
Simple Blackwood, perhaps Key Card Blackwood ( to be determined by the partnership).

(8) Responding 4C:
Some partnerships now play that a jump to 4C after any Weak Two opening bid is keycard for opener's suit. This assumes that a 3C response would be forcing. This treatment is recommended. It allows you to sign off at four of the major if two keycards are missing. 

There is a new set of responses, however, as the opener is not going to have 3 or 4 keycards!

  • When spades is the agreed suit, these are the step responses to the jump to 4C:
    First step=0  or 2,  2nd step=1,  3rd step=1 with the queen.
    If partner signs off after a 0 or 2 response, do not pass with 2. Jump to slam with the trump queen, bid 4NT without the trump suit queen. Your 4NT bid allows partner to ask about your exact holding in another suit.
  • When hearts is the agreed suit, these are the step responses to the jump to 4C:
    First step=0 or 2, 2nd step=1.  If partner wishes to ask about the HQ he bids 4S. Without the HQ, signoff at 5H. With the HQ, show any side suit king you may have and bid 5NT without a side suit king.

DEFENSE TO THE WEAK TWO BID

When your opponents open with a weak two, you should have some simple defense to counteract the preemptive effect of the bid.

Assume East's opening bid is 2H, and you are South. Here are suggested defenses:

 
2S/3C/3D — Strongish 5 card suit, usually a 6 bagger at the two level, 6 card suit presumed at the three level with opening bid values.

Double — Takeout: same strength as needed to double a 1H opening bid.  

2NT — 15-18 balanced.  Same as a 1NT overcall of a 1H opening bid.  With 15 HCP, a double stopper or a five or six card trick taking side suit is suggested.  

3H — The cue bid shows some solid suit (usually a minor) and asks partner to bid 3NT with a stopper in the opener's suit.

4C or 4D — Leaping Michaels.   A poweful two-suiter with the minor you are bidding plus the unbid major.   The distribution should be 5-5 or 5-6. (The six card suit the minor). The jump is not forcing, but partner needs next to nothing to bid game.

Assume your right hand opponent opens 2H.    What would you bid with each of the following hands?

(1) S. AJ54      H. 65        D. KJ87         C. AJ3

(2) S. K87       H. 32        D. KQ987      C. KJ8

(3) S. 54         H. AJ108   D. AK87        C. 654

(4) S. KQ987  H. 2          D. AKJ983     C. 3

(5) S. 2          H. 43         D. KQ987     C. AQJ98

(6) S. A7        H. 87         D. A7           C. AKQJ976

(7) S. 987      H. AJ9        D. AKJ8       C. K98

(8) S. 8          H. AJ87      D. KQ87      C. KJ65

Solutions

(1) Double — You would have doubled a 1H opening wouldn't you?, so double a 2H opening.

(2) Pass — You should have a 6-card suit to overcall at the three level, particularly a three level minor suit overcall.

(3) Pass — And hope partner reopens with a double.

(4) 4D — Leaping Michaels.  A powerful diamond/spade two suiter.

(5) 3D — The cue bid asks for a  stopper. Partner will expect 6 diamonds, but if you bid clubs later, partner will play you for 5-5.

(6) 3H — Shows a solid suit and asks partner to bid 3NT with a stopper in their suit.

(7) 2NT — Shows 15-18 balanced with at least one stopper in their suit.

(8) Pass — There is no sane bid at this point to describe this hand.

THE 2C OPENING BID

When you play Weak Twos, your only forcing opening bid is an artificial 2C bid. You show your "real" suit or your strong notrump hand (22-24 HCP) (27-28) at your next opportunity.

A positive suit response to a 2C opening shows at least five cards in the suit, typically, but not necessarily, headed by three of the top five honors or two of the top four honors with 7+ HCP.   A positive response should show at least one ace or two kings. Some play that a suit response promises two of the top three honors. I am not in this camp.     

These hands qualify for a positive response of 2H if partner opens 2C (unless you play that the response absolutely promises 2 of the top 3 honors).

(1)  S. A3   H. QJ1054    D. J98     C. 987

(2)  S. 2    H. KJ873     D. KJ932   C. 97

(3)  S. K4   H. A97643    D. 32      C. 874 

One popular method for responding to 2C is to use 2D as a waiting response, which means next to nothing.  A 2D response denies a long, strong suit, but does not deny a strong hand. Many others use a 2H response to show a bust hand. No, ace, no king, and not as much as two queens. Those that use this response respond 2NT to show a positive response in hearts. 
Say you hold —   S. AJ43   H. K764   D. J10   C. J76   —Respond 2D. You will catch up later.

Here are a few common sequences that begin with 2C-2D.    Assume you are the responder. 

Opener          Responder (you)
S. AKJ986       S. 3    
H. A104          H. QJ763  
D. AKJ             D. 986  
C. 2                C. K976

Opener           Responder  
2 Clubs           2 Diamonds
2 Spades        3 Hearts
4 Hearts         Pass

Opener knows that you do not have a strong heart suit or a particularly good hand.  Had you a stronger hand, you would have responded 2H directly.  In this sequence you show five or six hearts with 4-6 HCP.  

Opener           Responder
S. AKJ10987      S. 2  
H. AK3               H. J9875 
D. A4                 D. 10876
C. 2                   C. 1076

Opener           Responder
2 Clubs          2 Diamonds
2 Spades         ?

At this point you have to bid something. The 2 diamond response has not shown a weak hand and if you bid 3H, partner will play you for more than this!

When you have been dealt a miserable hand (0-3 HCP), your first obligation after your obligatory 2D response is to let partner in on this terrible secret. You do this by by bidding “cheaper minor” called a 'double negative'. After partner rebids 2H or 2S, bid 3C.  This 3C bid does not show clubs, in fact it shows nothing. It means you have a nothing hand.   Had partner rebid 3C over your 2D response, 3D is your double negative. If partner rebids 3D over 2D, there is no double negative.   Good luck. In the preceding example, you rebid 3C after the 2S bid and partner, knowing you have garbage signs off at 4S. Rebidding 3S after the 3C response would not be forcing. Those that respond 2H originally do not have the follow up problem of how to show a bust. They have already shown one! Incidentally, playing that 2H shows a double negative, 2NT substitues for a positive respond in hearts.

A 2C opening is a game force unless the bidding proceeds:

(a) Opener    Responder
      2C           2D
      2NT         Pass    

Even though opener shows 22-24 HCP, responder is allowed to pass.   You can imagine what kind of hand responder must have to pass 2NT. 

S. 983  H. 87  D. 10874  C. J432   This hand looks like a good candidate to pass 2NT.

Opener     Responder
2C            2D
2H            3C   (double negative) 
3H            Pass

As mentioned, 3H is not forcing, but partner needs very little to carry on to 4H. An eensy-weensy breath of a trick is enough. If opener bids a new suit, responder cannot pass.    

S. 874     H. 32    D. 743    C. 6432    This looks like the right hand to pass 3H in the preceding sequence.

Notrump Rebids By The 2C Opener

When playing weak twos, a 2C opening followed by a 2NT rebid  shows 22-24 HCP.  An opening bid of 2NT shows 20-21 HCP. 

Opener     Responder (you)  
2 clubs     2 diamonds
2 NT         ?

At this point, 3C by you is Stayman, and if you play transfers, they are “on’ as well.  Basically, you respond the  same way as you would to an opening bid of 2NT. The only difference is that your partner has 22-24 high card points as opposed to 20-21. 

When using Weak Twos, the 3 NT opening shows 25-26 HCP.  A 2C opening following by 3NT shows 27-28 HCP. Don’t hold your breath.

Most common responses to a 2C opening:

Opener Responder Meaning
2C 2D Waiting (artificial)
  2H/2S/3C/3D Positive - at least 6-7 HCP  with a respectable five or six card suit.
  2NT A response to be avoided because it wrong sides the play if partner has a balanced hand. Partnerships can work out what this should mean.
  3H/3S 6 or 7 card ONE loser suit 
(KQJxxx,  AQJxxx,  AKJxxx)


EXAMPLE HAND:

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
                 North
                 S. K1032
                 H. J42
                 D. J983
                 C. 64

West                        East
S. Q98                      S. 76
H. K853                     H. A109
D. 105                      D. 764
C. QJ102                    C. 98753

               South
                S. AJ54
                H. Q76
                D. AKQ2
                C. AK

South  West    North    East
2C     Pass    2D       Pass
2NT    Pass    3C*      Pass
3S     Pass    4S
* Stayman

Opening Lead:  CQ

Declarer wins the opening lead, plays the ace-king of spades leaving the queen at large, cashes a second club, and begins to run diamonds. If West trumps in, West must break hearts or give South a ruff and a sluff. Either way South loses two more tricks. If West stubbornly refuses to trump a diamond, South exits with a trump and West must either lead a heart or give South a ruff and sluff. Notice that South shuns the trump finesse, using the queen of spades as a throw-in card to force a heart play.

LESSON HANDS

(1)  Both sides vulnerable

    Dealer South

              North
               S. A32
               H. KQ2
               D. J9
               C. AK432

West                     East
S. QJ107                S. K94
H. 863                   H. 5
D. AQ42                 D. 108765
C. J9                      C. Q1087

             South
              S. 865
              H. AJ10974
              D. K3
              C. 65


South    West   North   East
2H       Pass   4H      AllPass

Opening Lead:  Spade Queen

Bidding Analysis: North bids 4 hearts to play. When your partner only has 7-8 HCP, you need a pretty good hand to raise to game.

Play Analysis: South must play to establish the clubs for the tenth trick, keeping the diamond finesse (leading up to the king) in reserve.Win the spade ace, cash the HJ and assuming both follow, play the ace-king and ruff a club high, enter dummy with a trump, ruff another club high, draw trumps ending in dummy and discard a losing spade on the fifth club.

Now you can lead up to the DK for an overtrick.  Sorry, not this time.

(2) East-West vulnerable

Dealer South

              North
               S. 8532
               H. 764
               D. K6
               C. A743

West                    East
S. KQJ974             S. A10
H. Q85                  H. K932
D. 5                       D. J73
C. J62                     C. Q1085

             South
              S. 6
              H. AJ10
              D. AQ109842
              C. K9

South   West     North   East
1D         2S       Pass    Pass
Double  Pass     3 C     Pass
3D         Pass     4 D     Pass
5D         All Pass

Opening Lead: Spade King

Bidding Analysis: This hand was included to illustrate that a weak jump overcall (West's 2S bid) is very similar to a Weak Two opening bid. Had West dealt, West would have opened 2S. South shows a powerful hand by doubling and then rebidding his suit.  With a weaker hand, South would bid 3 diamonds without doubling.

Play Analysis: South must use both dummy entries to take two heart finesses. South winds up losing one heart and one spade.

(3) Neither side vulnerable

Dealer West

            North
             S. Q42
             H. 75
             D. AQ75
             C. AQ95

West                  East
S. K75                S. 10963
H. AJ9843           H. 106
D. 108                D. 9632
C. 84                  C. K76

           South
            S. AJ8
            H. KQ4
            D. KJ4
            C. J1032

West      North    East   South
2H        Double   Pass   3NT
All Pass


Opening Lead:  Heart 8

Bidding Analysis: North's double shows an opening bid or better, typically with heart shortness. South’s jump to 3NT is obvious.

Play Analysis: South knows that West has a 6-card heart suit and should duck the H10 knowing that East has a doubleton heart.  After East returns a heart, it is safe for South to take the club finesse. Even though it loses, South has 9 tricks without needing the spade finesse:  4 diamonds, 3 clubs and a trick in each of the majors. If South wins the first heart, East has a heart return upon getting in with the CK.  Curtains!

(4) Neither side vulnerable

Dealer South

           North
            S. 107654
            H. J32
            D. 32
            C. 654

West                   East
S. J32                 S. Q98
H. 7                   H. 1098654
D. J54                 D. 107
C. AKQ983          C. 107

          South
           S. AK
           H. AKQ
           D. AKQ987
           C. J2

South    West       North    East
2C          3C         Pass     Pass
3D          Pass       3S       Pass
5D          All Pass

Opening Lead: CK (Some lead the Q from the AKQ)

Bidding Analysis: North passes to show a weak hand and later shows a 5 or 6-card spade suit over South's forcing 3D rebid.   South closes the bidding with 5D, looking at what appears to be 11 sure tricks.

Looks can be deceiving.

Defensive Analysis: West plays three rounds of clubs and East cleverly trumps the third club with the D10.   After South overtrumps, West’s DJ becomes the setting trick. East’s neat play is known as an "uppercut".

Note:  Some play that after interference to a 2C opening bid, 'double' shows a double negative hand (no ace or king, no two queens) and passing shows at least one king, likely more.

 


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