In our last blog we demonstrated the use of the 2 level weak jump shift by responder and contrasted it with the treatment of bidding the suit at the one level and then rebidding the same suit at the 2 level. In either instance, responder breathes a sigh of relief and assumes he is off the hook. But what if opener has a hand where he simply is not satisfied to quit despite the grim news from partner? Well, first let me tell you that you better get this right, because if you do anything other than lay down the pass card, you have just taken control of the hand and your partner as well.
As noted in the last post, the weak jump shift should show a 6 card suit and 2 to a bad 5 hcps. In order to make game against responder’s WJS you will need a hand that was almost a 2 club opener, something in the range of 19-20 points, probably a 4 LTC hand and at least three card support for partner’s suit. If you hold that nice 19 hcps hand, but only a single in partner’s suit, then trouble is just over the horizon. Either you pass or wish you had.
Contrast this with the responsive hand that bid and rebid the suit showing 6 cards and a good 5 to 9 hcps. The only difference in the requirement for making a forward going bid is that you can make it with hands that are a little weaker. It is always hard to talk about hcps, because so much depends on playability, but I would want 16+ to show further interest.
The results of forward going bidding can also depend on responder’s hand. He will not always have 2 hcps when he makes a WJS and his other 7 cards will not always be 322 (a real goat). If responder has some shortness in one or more suits, it could fit well to produce some additional tricks provided that opener started with the requisite 3 or 4 card support. The death knell for opener to try to find a safer place to play when he lacks support. Ridiculous! Repeat it again, Ridiculous!
With 3 or 4 card support, opener also has an opportunity to further the preempt with minimum values. Even with three card support we have 9 trump don’t we. Being LOTT guys, we are not going to let opponents buy a contract at the 3 level. Old stuff, but equally applicable to this setting. Opponents may not have a game, but down one is often very good, right Bob?
I see you, jumping up and down in your seat sitting on KTx, Axx, A, AKQxxx. You have 20 hcps, 8 1/2 tricks and 4 LTC. I would hope that my partners would have the discipline to open this 1 club -- my aspirations may be too high, but I love them all anyway. I hold QJxxxx, x, xxx, xxx. In response to 1 club, I jump at the chance to bid 2 spades and get out of Dodge! Partner, with justification, has continued interest, but needs to find out more about my hand. What is the best approach?
Well, the start is easy; you bid 2NT which is forcing of course. Now you need agreement with partner what this means. In this context if this is “feature”, you may wish you had some other agreement.There is a better way to proceed.
A preferred way to have partner further define his hand is "Ogust." This is not hard to remember if you use Ogust over weak 2’s. However, there is a twist here.You have to redefine the trems “good hand” and “good suit.” A “good suit” is one where the meager high card points you hold are in your suit. A “good hand” is one where you have a single or a void. Thus, in Ogust speak we respond to 2NT as follows: 2c= bad hand and bad suit, 2 diamonds= bad hand and good suit, 2 hearts, good hand and bad suit, 3 spades= good hand and good suit. With this hand I proudly bid 3 spades over 2NT. I obviously have either the Ace or Queen of spades, perhaps accompanied by the Jack. I also have a single or a void. It makes a comfortable 4 spade bid, but the slam potential of the hand is limited by the fact that I do not know the location of the shortness.
If you are really “uptown” card player (boater, spats and a cane) there is an alternate bid that you can add to your arsenal. This bid does not subsume 2NT, that bid remains Ogust. It is a "do-dad" that lets you pin point any shortness in responder's hand if that is important. Instead of bidding 2NT, you bid 3 clubs. This asks partner do you have any shortness and if so, where is the shortness. Without shortness responder replies 3 spades. With responder’s shortness in hearts as in my example, responder bids 3 hearts. If responder had Qxxxxx and nothing else, you have a hand that is too good to play anywhere other than 6 spades.
No matter how well you play, if you do not get to the best contract, it makes no difference. All your talent is wasted on inferior contracts. The first half of a bridge deal is all about communication. As in real life, those who have the best toys often enjoy it the most. If you don’t think so, send me your best real life toy.