Two Hearts

The 2 Opening is a "normal" weak two and typically shows between 5-9 points and at least a 6-card Heart suit. Ideally we use this 1st or 3rd-in-hand, green vs red, with our hcp in our long suit and not with 4-card Spades, but inevitably there will be times when we want to use this in less than perfect conditions. Some of those conditions not being satisfied isn't necessarily a bar to use a weak-2, but 2nd-in-hand, red vs green with a Jack-high suit and 4-card Spades, we might think twice :)

The 2, 2NT and 3 responses are artificial (see below). Direct suit raises in Hearts are purely pre-emptive and not invitational. New suit responses from 3 upwards are wholly natural and forcing but rarely used, on the basis that when partner is weak with a long suit, it normally pays to play in their long suit rather than anything else we might have to offer, so sequences that find out more about their hand and impicitly agree their suit tend to take priority.

Responses & Continuations

In response to the 2 Opening, partner bids along the following lines:-
2-2 A forcing enquiry to find our more about Opener's strength and distribution:
-2NT shows minimum range, any distribution. 4 is Beta, but rarely used.
-3 shows a Diamond shortage, max range. 3 is Beta
-3 shows a Spade shortage, max range. 3 is Beta
-3 shows a Club shortage, max range. 4 is Beta
-3 shows a 4+-card Spade suit, max range. 4 is Beta
-3NT shows a max range 6322-shape hand with scattered values.
-4 shows a 4+-card Club suit, max range. 4 is Beta
-4 shows a 4+-card Diamond suit, max range. 4 is Beta
Once a shortage has been shown the short suit can be used for a Beta Ask, but no Epsilons are permitted. If Opener shows a second suit then a relay in the next suit up (not including 3NT or 4) is Beta. Epsilons are still not permitted.
2 -2NT is Lebensohl forcing a 3 bid from Opener, after which any bid is natural and strictly a sign-off unless obviously invitational
eg: 2-2NT-3-2 is mildly invitational in Hearts, probably wanting good Hearts as well as upper range (a hand worth a strong invitation would go via 2)
2 -3 Is Gamma in Hearts. Asking Bids are established.
2 -3 is purely pre-emptive and not invitational.
2 -4 is purely pre-emptive but may well conceal strong vales.

General Tactics

(1) Responses other than those listed above are deprecated. If Responder has a strong hand they take control by one of the methods shown above and then decide where to play the hand. This is the reason why no Epsilons are permitted unless Responder has explicitly agreed Hearts by using 3 Gamma. Game-invitational hands tend to go via the 2 Enquiry. Hands interested in a slam are better off using Gamma.

(2) As suggested above, the times that Responder will seek to play in a suit other than Hearts are relatively rare. Opener's hand will likely be able to contribute very little unless the hand is played in Hearts. Playing in NT's is another matter, of course, in that if Responder has a strong hand and a running Minor but no tolerance for Hearts, Responder's ability to cover the Hearts may be enough.

Action over Intervention

  • Over 2-(2)-?? : Now Double is the Forcing Enquiry and everything else as above.
  • Over 2-(X)-?? : Now Redouble is the Forcing Enquiry, and everything else as above.
  • Over 2-(2NT)-?? : Now Double is the Forcing Enquiry. Lebensohl is unavailable, and everything else as above.
  • Over 2-(3x)-?? : Now new suits are natural and forcing, implying at least a tolerance for Hearts. 3NT is "to play" and 3 is pre-emptive rather than invitational. A cue-bid of their suit is Gamma in Hearts.


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