What should I bid? (March 2020)

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What should I bid? (March 2020)

The best submission for March came from Roz Trend. She wins a voucher of $30 funded by TBIB, toward any purchase made at the Bridge Shop or Paul Lavings Bridgegear.

Bd 8
Nil Vul
W Dealer
Q 3
K 9 4 3 2
Q 5 4 3
A 6
 
K J 10 7 2
A J 10 8 5
A
7 4
[ 8 ] A 8 6 5
Q 7
9 6 2
K 9 8 2
  9 4
6
K J 10 8 7
Q J 10 5 3
 

West North East South
1 Pass 2 2NT
3 All Pass    

The explanation of the 2NT caused a bit of trouble. South intended it as weak 5/5 minors. North described it as stronger which East then said caused them to pass the 3.

Such a misunderstanding causes angst to all and so I want to clear it up. I’m not fond of using 2NT in this situation as weak and would appreciate input with regard to a sensible approach and whether it’s reasonable to expect more from the 2NTer.

The preemptive value of the unusual 2NT is gone – they’ve found their fit. I feel that all a weak 5/5 bid does here is help the opposition work out the layout of the hand and:
(a) possibly bid a game they weren’t going to bid on their own (e.g. they might now be able to work out that their partner is short in one of the minors which they might not have known otherwise), or
(b) not bid a game they were going bid (e.g. they might now know that the breaks are going to be bad which they might not have known otherwise), or
(c) give up on their own contract and start doubling us.

I don’t mind 2NT being the minors but I think it needs to be a better hand – takeout without hearts. With a weak hand, pass – if the opposition stop bidding, partner might be able to reopen with a double (unless they hold the opposition’s suit in which case we don’t want the contract anyway).

 

Hi Roz,

There is definitely no “right” or “wrong” way to play the 2NT overcall. I know a lot of top players who prefer 2NT as natural 15-18 (as the opponents can be bidding 1M-2M on very light hands), but I also know a lot of them like to play this as a two-suited hand (as overcalling 2NT may be dangerous if partner is broke and the opponents start to double).

Playing 2NT as natural allows you to find a game if the opponents were bidding with light hands. The danger of course is if the opponents have real values, they may start to double us. The other downside is that with a two-suited hand, we’d have to either overcall one of the suits, or make a cuebid which would force us a level higher.

Playing 2NT as a two-suited hand (whether it be both minors, or some other variation, is up to the partnerhsip) has the advantage that it may help the partnership to find a potential sacrifice. After 1M-P-2M-? if we can only overcall one of the suits, the opener may now jump to 4M and we might miss out on a big fit in the other suit.
The downside here of course is that it gives up the ability to overcall 2NT as natural. This is especially costly if opponents are not vul as they may then be opening with 10HCP, and responding 2M with 4/5HCP (with distribution). The other downside is that if we don’t have a sacrifice and the opponents bid up to 4M, this will give away a lot of information and allow declarer to play almost double-dummy.

If one is to play 2NT as a two suited hand, then it is up to the partnership to agree on what strength the 2NT bid promises. Some people like to do it based on vulnerability, so being Not Vul, the hand in question may be OK (at least all of the HCP is in both of the suits) as it can also help direct the lead for partner so as to not lead a heart.

So in conclusion, there is no right or wrong answer, it is just up to the partnership.

In my partnership, I like to play 2NT as natural if the opponents are not vul, but a two-suited hand if the opponents are vulnerable.

Hope that helps,
Andy

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