Monday, March 9, 2009

Tools and toys over 2C openings, part one

The standard two clubs opening can be somewhat ungainly if you're not prepared. Here's a few tools that can help your strong auctions go more smoothly.

Two Diamonds Positive, Two Hearts Negative:

I like to play that an artificial, negative 2H response is the only way to stop short of game, thus leaving the 2D response positive and game-forcing. Auctions are much easier when both partners know that they won't be passed below game. I have the agreement with some partners that the "positive" bid should show an ace, a king, or at least six points in quacks, but with others, we allow "shape positives" - hands without the high cards, but with enough distribution to suggest lots of tricks, maybe




I'm actually undecided as to which way works out best. Shape positives work really well when a fit is found, but can be disastrous with a big misfit. I welcome any thoughts or suggestions in the Comments section.


The Kokish 2H is a very necessary tool for 2C opener. When your partner bids 2D, you can bid an artificial 2H with two handtypes: hearts or balanced. Responder is forced to bid 2S, and opener will clarify his hand. In short, the auction will go like this:

2C -2D - 2H - 2S - ?

With a balanced hand, opener rebids 2NT, and all systems are on as if he'd opened 2NT. With the "hearts" hand, he makes the most natural rebid possible. So,

2C - 2D - 2H (Kokish) - 2S (forced) - 3D shows 5+ hearts and 4+ diamonds. Simple enough, right?

The real gain in Kokish comes from being able to better define the ranges of your balanced hands. Since 2C shows 22+, here's how Kokish tightens up the ranges:

2C - 2D - 2NT = 22-23

2C - 2D - 2H (Kokish) - 2S (forced) - 2NT = 24-25

2C - 2D - 3NT = 26-27

2C - 2D - 2H - 2S - 3NT = 28+