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

JT87532
842
9
74

or

Q8652
97
J9874
3

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.

Kokish

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+

4 comments:

Kevin said...

I use the 2D+/2H- with my most frequent partners, but use Max Hardy's + definition -- at least one A or K, or at least 2 Q's. Thus 6 points in quacks if Q + 4J's is negative. I've never tried the + response on distribution without HCP; I tend to agree that it looks disastrous if no fit is found.

Noble Shore said...

While I like 2d negative better, here's the scheme I prefer if playing 2d waiting with 2h "artificial double negative":

2d: ART GF
2h: ART, 0 tricks for a heart contract
2s: ART, 0 tricks for a spade contract but GF opposite hearts
3c: ART, 0 tricks opposite clubs but GF in support of either major
3d: ART, 0 tricks opposite diamonds but GF opposite any other suit

Opener's rebid thru 3d is NF opposite any of the above "negative" responses.

This scheme allows the partnership to stop short of game when responder is really broke, no matter what suit opener has.

psmartin186 said...

I ran some simulations once and decided that 2D position was definitely the right way to play over 2C. In an attempt to take some pressure off the 2H response, I played both 2H and 2S as artificial negatives, with 2S showing an unspecified 5-card major. One advantage is that after 2C-2H/3-of-a minor, responder's 3-of-a-major shows exactly 4. I haven't had a lot of experience with this in the heat of competition, since these are infrequent auctions, but the simulation suggested this was a reasonable approach. -Phillip Martin

Paul said...

I too prefer to play 2♦ as a positive and 2♥ as the 0-4 double negative.

The other key response in my regular response structure is 2♠ showing 5-8 HCP in a balanced, or quasi-balanced (4441) hand.