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2/1-Two Ways to Support

Players who have recently learned 2/1 often neglect to use the extra bidding space gained from the system.  Capitalizing on the benefits of 2/1 require a solid understanding of your follow-ups. In the following series of articles we will explore various common 2/1 auctions and try to eliminate the uncomfortable feeling of "I don't know what these bids mean".

With four-card support for partners 1/ opener and a game-forcing hand, we use the Jacoby 2NT convention. When we have exactly three-card support and game-going values, we do not have that luxury. In order to show our strength and support it takes a two-step process:

Step 1: Bid 2/1 to set up a game force

Step 2: Bid partner's suit to establish the fit

When partner's rebid is below two of the opening suit we have the option of supporting partner at the two level or jumping to the three level.  Both bids promise three-card support and therefore establish the eight-card fit.  Let's examine how partner is supposed to react to each of these two supporting bids.

Supporting at the two level:

W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
?

Opener thus far in the auction has shown 5+ and 4+.  When responder supports at the two level (bids 2), opener should continue describing their distribution.  Here is what opener's next bid means in the example auction (they are all natural):

2N = 5 4 2 2 
3 = 5 4 1 3 (or rarely 5 4 0 4)
3 = 5 4 3 1 (or rarely 5 4 4 0)
3 = 5 5
3 = 6 4 (shows extras if your partnership agrees to rebid your 6 card suit first with a weak hand)

Knowing about partners distribution is crucial information on some deals.  For example:

South
KQ2
AK3
A4
75432
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2
P
2

If partner bids 3 over 2, your hand becomes a monster. Eliciting this information out of them with a 2 bid will make it easier to reach some close slams. Now you can take control. Conversely, in a cue-bidding auction partner would not know how to evaluate a singleton club (your 2/1 suit).

However, on some hands you just want partner to cue-bid.  With these hand types we can keep declarer's distribution secret and just ask partner to cue-bid by jumping to 3.  Here is an example hand of when to jump raise.

South
K72
A3
84
AKQJ102
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2
P
3

This hand doesn't care about opener's distribution but needs to know about a diamond control, so we start with 3.

These methods maintain consistency with other auctions, as cue-bidding typically begins once we reach 3 of our major.

This is a basic way to use these two ways to support. Many pairs use more complex tools to describe even more information about opener's strength and distribution.  One way or another this situation must be discussed. It comes up regularly and can help you find more slams without getting too high.

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