Two Spades

The 2 Opening is a "normal" weak two and typically shows between 5-9 points and at least a 6-card Spade 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 Hearts, 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 Hearts, we might think twice :)

The 2NT, 3 and 3 responses are artificial (see below). Direct suit raises in Spades 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 -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 Spades, probably wanting good Spades as well as upper range (a hand worth a strong invitation would go via 3)
2-3 A forcing enquiry to find our more about Opener's strength and distribution.
Note: Responder should not use this route if a maximum Opener with a Minor-suit shortage is no good for them (See 2-3-3 below):
-3 shows a Heart shortage, max range. 3 is Beta
-3 shows a Minor Suit shortage, max range. Now 3 asks again (not a sign-off in Spades) and Opener bids 3NT with a Club shortage and 3 with a Diamond shortage. The short Minor is now Beta.
-3 shows minimum range, any distribution. 4 is Beta, but rarely used
-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
-4 shows a 4+-card Heart suit, max range. 4NT 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 -3 Is Gamma in Spades. 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 Spades by using 3 Gamma. Game-invitational hands tend to go via the 3 Enquiry. Hands interested in a slam are better off using Gamma.

(2) As stated above, Responding hands that are not interested in game opposite a maximum with a Minor-suit shortage should not use the 3 Forcing Enquiry, because in the event of a 3 rebid by Opener, Responder cannot now sign off in 3.

(3) As suggested above, the times that Responder will seek to play in a suit other than Spades are relatively rare. Opener's hand will likely be able to contribute very little unless the hand is played in Spades. 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 Spades, Responder's ability to cover the Spades may be enough.

Action over Intervention

  • Over 2-(X)-?? : Now Redouble is Lebensohl, and everything else as above.
  • Over 2-(2NT)-?? : Now Double is Lebensohl and everything else as above.

  • Over 2-(3x)-?? : Now new suits are natural and forcing, implying at least a tolerance for Spades. 3NT is "to play" and 3 is pre-emptive rather than invitational. A cue-bid of their suit is Gamma in Spades.


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