By Bill Treble
Platinum Life Master and author of Two Over One: A First Course

Before going full-tilt into playing 2/1, a partnership should establish a firm agreement on three specific auctions. The first is when opener is forced to the two-level and mentions a higher-ranking suit on his rebid.


The two of you have a choice of three alternatives for opener’s second bid:

  1. This promises 16+ HCP, as it would after 1D-1S.

  2. The 2H continuation promises a sound opening bid or better, typically 14+ HCP or a very good 13-count.

  3. This just shows unbalanced distribution, and can be made on a dead-minimum hand.

To illustrate the difference in the three approaches, we’ll now move on to three example hands:

Hand 1       Hand 2       Hand 3
S K 6 3
H A Q 7 2
D A K 10 9 4
C 5
      S 6 3
H A Q 7 2
D A J 10 9 4
C K 2
      S K 6 3
H K J 7 2
D K Q 9 5 4
C 2

If 1. has been established as the parameters for a 2H rebid, you’ve taken the high ground and the only one of the three hands that qualifies for a true reverse is the first one. The other two examples, although they are two-suited hands, will have to rebid 2D for the time being.

If 2. is your agreement, the middle ground has been chosen and both the first two hands would rebid 2H. The last one was a bare minimum to start with and now has all the earmarks of a misfit with partner’s 2C. response. It would therefore opt for 2D as a slow-down process, knowing that a heart fit will not be missed as responder will introduce them if he has that suit with longer clubs. I would guess that most partnerships, regardless of level, would take this approach.

Finally, if 3. was your choice, then all three hands would rebid 2H after partner’s 2C response. This carries the advantage that a 2D continuation basically guarantees a six-card or longer suit. The drawback, however, is that while 2H gets both suits in quickly, the exact strength of opener’s hand could be anywhere from awesome to downright pitiful.

Whatever your agreement on the rebid of a major suit by opener, the expectation from partner is that it will be an unbalanced hand, usually with 9 or more cards in the bid suits.

If opener holds:

S A 7 3
H K J 8 4
D A 10 5 2
C J 7

He should continue with 2NT, not 2H. Unless you can support responder’s suit, the objective is to distinguish between a balanced and unbalanced hand.

If partner has four hearts, he will also have longer clubs and enough values to insist on game. His plan all along would have been to show his longest suit first and bid the other one next, so you’ll be in no danger of losing the eight-card major suit fit if you show the nature of your hand, balanced and minimum.

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