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Strong 2 Club Opening - Responses

#1 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 10:32

In recent threads, mikeh described an interesting scheme of responses to 2 that he currently plays with one partner, based upon a 2 negative (to show no A or K) and transfer responses (to show simple positive hands).
Let's first see if I understood correctly (mikeh please comment) as the description came in various posts:

2=game force or 22+ balanced
..2='waiting' negative, none of the other responses below are appropriate
....the usual developments over 2
..2=negative 'red flag' denying an A or K
....natural non-forcing developments
..2=positive clubs, 6+card, 1 loser opposite stiff
..2NT=positive undisclosed major, 5+card, 2 of top 3, no decent side suit
....3=asks opener to bid the major in transfer
......3=hearts
......3=spades
..3=positive diamonds, 6+card, 1 loser opposite stiff
..3=positive hearts, 6+card, imposes trumps
..3=positive spades, 6+card, imposes trumps
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#2 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 11:19

Yeah it seemed interesting. I guess refusing the transfer shows no fit and explains where you live?

I also read a method from Levy in France with no negative, and where you show only 55 shapes or 6+ suiters, 1 pc in each suit for a 2-suiter (or 3 overall if the opening is the non GF 2D used for strong 2’s, one trick less than GF hands), or 2 pcs for a one-suiter (and a side goodie over 2D).

The reason for that is he discovered slams are easily missed when opener has a fit for responder’s 2nd suit that often remains hidden during the auction, or a semi-fit in responder’s 6+ suit that this latter sometimes does not dare repeat. Otherwise you usually find your way so no need to preempt partner and save space responding the waiting cheaper call, 2D or 2H.

E.g, 2C-2M is M + a cheaper suit or single M, 2NT asks, and 2NT is both m. 3M is used for 7-cardrers with 2 top, 3m same but Levy who is very precise also allows 6-minors with the J so that opener with a sg honor knows the suit is solid (😅!!).

Seems interesting too and worth sharing.
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#3 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 11:34

I am of the opinion that the first task to undertake when constructing a 2C response system is to thoroughly define what a 2C opener will, and equally important, won’t be.
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Posted 2021-May-21, 12:30

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-May-21, 11:34, said:

I am of the opinion that the first task to undertake when constructing a 2C response system is to thoroughly define what a 2C opener will, and equally important, won’t be.

Fair enough, although I imagine most pairs have it fairly clear and the national/regional regulations play a big part in that.
For us it means 22+ HCP that we intend to rebid as 2NT (which already includes some pretty weird stuff which I won't list in order to stay in topic) or a single-suit (probably major) that only needs to examine controls, or any "game forcing" hand that cannot take it's chances at 1 level for some reason.
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Posted 2021-May-21, 12:42

View Postapollo1201, on 2021-May-21, 11:19, said:

I guess refusing the transfer shows no fit and explains where you live?

That's how I imagine it too, let's see what mikeh says.
(In the variant I was thinking of there are some situations where opener is implicitly willing to accept responder's suit a priori and it might be better that non-completion of transfer is a control-bid, but we'll come to that later).
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Posted 2021-May-21, 12:49

View Postapollo1201, on 2021-May-21, 11:19, said:

I also read a method from Levy in France with no negative, and where you show only 55 shapes or 6+ suiters, 1 pc in each suit for a 2-suiter (or 3 overall if the opening is the non GF 2D used for strong 2’s, one trick less than GF hands), or 2 pcs for a one-suiter (and a side goodie over 2D).

The reason for that is he discovered slams are easily missed when opener has a fit for responder’s 2nd suit that often remains hidden during the auction, or a semi-fit in responder’s 6+ suit that this latter sometimes does not dare repeat. Otherwise you usually find your way so no need to preempt partner and save space responding the waiting cheaper call, 2D or 2H.


Interesting, thanks. Very pertinent in the second part of this thread as you will see.
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#7 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 14:44

View Postpescetom, on 2021-May-21, 10:32, said:

In recent threads, mikeh described an interesting scheme of responses to 2 that he currently plays with one partner, based upon a 2 negative (to show no A or K) and transfer responses (to show simple positive hands).
Let's first see if I understood correctly (mikeh please comment) as the description came in various posts:

2=game force or 22+ balanced
..2='waiting' negative, none of the other responses below are appropriate
....the usual developments over 2
..2=negative 'red flag' denying an A or K
....natural non-forcing developments
..2=positive clubs, 6+card, 1 loser opposite stiff
..2NT=positive undisclosed major, 5+card, 2 of top 3, no decent side suit
....3=asks opener to bid the major in transfer
......3=hearts
......3=spades
..3=positive diamonds, 6+card, 1 loser opposite stiff
..3=positive hearts, 6+card, imposes trumps
..3=positive spades, 6+card, imposes trumps


Is there a response to show a good minor suit that isn't a 1 loser opposite a singleton?
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Posted 2021-May-21, 15:24

View Postjohnu, on 2021-May-21, 14:44, said:

Is there a response to show a good minor suit that isn't a 1 loser opposite a singleton?


I hope mikeh will comment on that: I summarised requirements as I remember, but don't want to put words into his mouth.
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#9 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 17:58

We’re still in the process of tweaking the method. The transfer responses will be extremely rare, and I would expect opener to accept the transfer close to 100% of the time, since the point is to have him declare in the very likely trump suit. Since responder will have no Ace or King on the side, it would be unusual for some other suit to offer a better play for any slam. Not impossible, but unlikely.

The other point to remember is that we truly dislike preempting opener with suit positives unless narrowly defined...as in the one loser 6+ suit for the transfers and the ‘simple’ major suit transfer structure starting with 2N.

We lump the vast majority of positive hands into 2D. We have a fairly good response structure over a 2N rebid by opener (either directly or via kokish) which make up the most common 2C opening hands. Meanwhile, we save lots of space when opener rebids a major, compared to those who preempt by responding 3m.

Look at 2C 3D 3S.....wtf does responder do now? Is 4C a cue agreeing spades or does it show clubs? Is 4N keycard or a balanced hand, shortish spades, too strong to bid 3N? Etc.

Also in kokish, we have opener transfer if he has a heart hand

2C 2D 2H 2S 3C is reds, 3D is a one suited heart hand, 3H is hearts with secondary spades, 3S is hearts and clubs

The beauty is that responder can always set trump below game.
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#10 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 17:59

View Postpescetom, on 2021-May-21, 12:30, said:

Fair enough, although I imagine most pairs have it fairly clear and the national/regional regulations play a big part in that.
For us it means 22+ HCP that we intend to rebid as 2NT (which already includes some pretty weird stuff which I won't list in order to stay in topic) or a single-suit (probably major) that only needs to examine controls, or any "game forcing" hand that cannot take it's chances at 1 level for some reason.

The next decision is who tells and who listens - is there one captain or can that duty be shared. What shapes can or should be opened 2c and how does that fit with your response structure. IMO what you will eventually find is that some hands should not be opened 2c depending on your response structure, and I would go further that a waiting bid of 2d should deny a singleton or void so that at worst a 5/2 fit can be found.
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#11 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 18:09

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-May-21, 17:59, said:

The next decision is who tells and who listens - is there one captain or can that duty be shared. What shapes can or should be opened 2c and how does that fit with your response structure. IMO what you will eventually find is that some hands should not be opened 2c depending on your response structure,

Captaincy is an over-rated concept: a well-developed, coherent system allows for most sequences to be collaborative rather than based on notions of captaincy. Relay (which I’ve played extensively) is an exception, but even in the methods I played, the relayer could sometimes surrender captaincy rather than placing the contract.

Obviously there are exceptions, and captaincy does have a role

In terms of a 2C opening, I expect that our ‘transfer’ responses will usually have opener assume ‘captaincy’ but I don’t like the term since it seems to imply that one partner is in charge. We tend to exchange information in constructive auctions with each partner having rights, depending on how his hand meshes with the auction as it progresses.
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#12 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-May-21, 18:18

View Postmikeh, on 2021-May-21, 18:09, said:

Captaincy is an over-rated concept: a well-developed, coherent system allows for most sequences to be collaborative rather than based on notions of captaincy. Relay (which I've played extensively) is an exception, but even in the methods I played, the relayer could sometimes surrender captaincy rather than placing the contract.

Obviously there are exceptions, and captaincy does have a role

In terms of a 2C opening, I expect that our 'transfer' responses will usually have opener assume 'captaincy' but I don't like the term since it seems to imply that one partner is in charge. We tend to exchange information in constructive auctions with each partner having rights, depending on how his hand meshes with the auction as it progresses.


I'm with you, Mike. I've always hated the idea of captaincy, being a believer that the best bidding is collaborative. 2C is somewhat of a different beast, though, because so much space is used simply explaining values held. There are times in 2C where it is necessary to be captain.
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Posted 2021-May-22, 10:49

View Postmikeh, on 2021-May-21, 17:58, said:

We’re still in the process of tweaking the method. The transfer responses will be extremely rare, and I would expect opener to accept the transfer close to 100% of the time, since the point is to have him declare in the very likely trump suit. Since responder will have no Ace or King on the side, it would be unusual for some other suit to offer a better play for any slam. Not impossible, but unlikely.

The other point to remember is that we truly dislike preempting opener with suit positives unless narrowly defined...as in the one loser 6+ suit for the transfers and the ‘simple’ major suit transfer structure starting with 2N.

We lump the vast majority of positive hands into 2D. We have a fairly good response structure over a 2N rebid by opener (either directly or via kokish) which make up the most common 2C opening hands. Meanwhile, we save lots of space when opener rebids a major, compared to those who preempt by responding 3m.

Look at 2C 3D 3S.....wtf does responder do now? Is 4C a cue agreeing spades or does it show clubs? Is 4N keycard or a balanced hand, shortish spades, too strong to bid 3N? Etc.

Also in kokish, we have opener transfer if he has a heart hand

2C 2D 2H 2S 3C is reds, 3D is a one suited heart hand, 3H is hearts with secondary spades, 3S is hearts and clubs

The beauty is that responder can always set trump below game.


Thanks. I agree with all of that. Our Kokish is currently just NT-oriented and rebids are natural when opener holds hearts, but the transfers you describe make perfect sense too of course. I do however have some thoughts about how your scheme of transfers by responder could be modified, which will follow.
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Posted 2021-May-22, 11:27

I was thinking that an interesting variation might be as follows:

2=game force or 22+ balanced
..2='waiting' negative, none of the other responses below are appropriate
....the usual developments over 2
..2=negative 'red flag' denying an A or K
....natural non-forcing developments
..2=positive suit response
....2NT=asks opener to bid the suit in transfer
......3=diamonds 6+,1 loser opposite stiff
......3=hearts 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=spades 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=clubs 6+, 1 loser opposite stiff
....3///=imposes trumps
..2NT=minors 5-5
..3=majors 5-4
....3=asks responder to set trumps in his longer suit (by bidding the other)
..3=majors 5-5

It looks to me as if moving all positive suit transfers into 2 would simplify the structure, right-side NT as a potential final contract and free up bids of 2NT onwards to show two-suiters, for the reasons espoused by Levy. My first thought was minors 5-5, majors 5-4 (with responder bidding the other suit if asked which is longer, to maintain transfer) and majors 5-5. Particularly interested in thoughts about suit quality requirements for the 2-suiters.

One downside is not having much room if opener dislikes responder's clubs, but we are probably heading for NT then anyway.
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#15 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-May-22, 18:04

View Postpescetom, on 2021-May-22, 11:27, said:

I was thinking that an interesting variation might be as follows:

2=game force or 22+ balanced
..2='waiting' negative, none of the other responses below are appropriate
....the usual developments over 2
..2=negative 'red flag' denying an A or K
....natural non-forcing developments
..2=positive suit response
....2NT=asks opener to bid the suit in transfer
......3=diamonds 6+,1 loser opposite stiff
......3=hearts 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=spades 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=clubs 6+, 1 loser opposite stiff
....3///=imposes trumps
..2NT=minors 5-5
..3=majors 5-4
....3=asks responder to set trumps in his longer suit (by bidding the other)
..3=majors 5-5

It looks to me as if moving all positive suit transfers into 2 would simplify the structure, right-side NT as a potential final contract and free up bids of 2NT onwards to show two-suiters, for the reasons espoused by Levy. My first thought was minors 5-5, majors 5-4 (with responder bidding the other suit if asked which is longer, to maintain transfer) and majors 5-5. Particularly interested in thoughts about suit quality requirements for the 2-suiters.

One downside is not having much room if opener dislikes responder's clubs, but we are probably heading for NT then anyway.

If I read this correctly, your scheme does away with distinguishing between a 5+ major with 2 or more of top three, on the one hand, and a 6+ major, that has play for one loser opposite a stiff, on the other.

While the one loser 6+ suit is rare, it is very useful when it arises. We used to play a jump to 3M as that, natural. On at least two occasions we were able to bid 6N immediately, holding something like Kx in a side suit, the K of partner’s suit and 6 side winners. We’d probably have got to slam anyway, but the gadget made it easier. There will be some hands where 6 of responder’s suit is better...opener may hold something like Kx Kx AKxxxx AKQ

6M from his side has an obvious flaw, but from opener’s side rates to be an excellent contract, planning to ruff the diamonds good most of the time.

So I don’t want to give up being able to distinguish between major suit positives.
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Posted 2021-May-23, 10:12

View Postmikeh, on 2021-May-22, 18:04, said:

If I read this correctly, your scheme does away with distinguishing between a 5+ major with 2 or more of top three, on the one hand, and a 6+ major, that has play for one loser opposite a stiff, on the other.

While the one loser 6+ suit is rare, it is very useful when it arises. We used to play a jump to 3M as that, natural. On at least two occasions we were able to bid 6N immediately, holding something like Kx in a side suit, the K of partner’s suit and 6 side winners. We’d probably have got to slam anyway, but the gadget made it easier. There will be some hands where 6 of responder’s suit is better...opener may hold something like Kx Kx AKxxxx AKQ

6M from his side has an obvious flaw, but from opener’s side rates to be an excellent contract, planning to ruff the diamonds good most of the time.

So I don’t want to give up being able to distinguish between major suit positives.


Good point, it wasn't intentional: the 6+ majors just slipped my mind when I started thinking about the 2-suit bids.
Of course the 6+ majors remain 3/3 as in your scheme, I just have to give up one of two both majors bids (I guess 5-4).
Will repost the modified scheme.
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Posted 2021-May-23, 10:21

So it should now read:

2=game force or 22+ balanced
..2='waiting' negative, none of the other responses below are appropriate
....the usual developments over 2
..2=negative 'red flag' denying an A or K
....natural non-forcing developments
..2=positive suit response
....2NT=asks opener to bid the suit in transfer
......3=diamonds 6+,1 loser opposite stiff
......3=hearts 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=spades 5+, 2 of top 3
......3=clubs 6+, 1 loser opposite stiff
....3///=imposes trumps
..2NT=minors 5+ 5+
....3/ imposes trumps
..3=majors 5+ 5+
....3=asks responder to decide trumps (by bidding the other)
....3/ imposes trumps
..3=hearts 6+, 1 loser opposite stiff
..3=spades 6+, 1 loser opposite stiff
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