LTC 2 bid

This is my first time at Bridgewinners and so I may not be writing in the usual format or in the appropriate place. The main reason I am writing is that we (6 of us to be precise) have been using a variation of 2 bid in various clubs with success and we have been asked by many people what the details of it are. I felt it is best to put it in this site.

Context:

Losing trick count is a very good way of evaluating a hand once a fit is found. When a hand has 5 LTC or less, it becomes extremely powerful and there are no sufficient tools to express them, especially at the beginning. On the other hand, 2 is a otherwise pretty useless bid, as could be seen with the number of interpretations it has had. So, the idea is to use 2 to express a 5- LTC hand.

Opening bid:

In the framework of SAYC or 2/1, the opening bid of LTC 2 signifies 13-22 HCP with less than 5 LTC. The hand should have a 6+ card suit or a 5-5. The long suits should have some winners in them, preferably A or KQ. The description corresponds to a strong hand (in terms of distribution and LTC), but not strong enough to open 2.

Here is the reason why we have chosen 5 LTC. You have an opening hand. If the responder also has an opening hand (i.e., 7 LTC), with just two opening hands, we could go to slam, while with a responsive hand from the partner (8-9 LTC) we could be in game. In other words, we could be one strata higher than where we would be when we only count the HCP.

Do not open 2 with a balanced hand or even 54xx, though you have 5 LTC. Other bids are much more effective. 2 essentially describes a distributional hand.

Responses:

Since 2 is based on distributional values, the opponents still have a lot of HCP with them. Also, they would have distributional values in suits that we are short. So, there will be interference in many cases. It could be a double or a suit bid.

We respond by steps of LTC count. Here are the responses with and without interference.

10 or more LTC - sign off: 2 (without interference) - pass (over double or overcall)

8-9 LTC - game invite: 2 (without interference) - redouble (over double) - double (over overcall)

7 or less LTC - slam invite: 2NT (without interference or double or any overcall below 2) - double (over 3 or 3)

The main advantage of this is that we have a pretty good evaluation of where we want to go, right at the beginning. The major quirk is that we have not even agreed on the suit, and a suit fit might not even exist. It is like putting the cart before the horse. I did some extensive statistical analysis and found that with hands that fall under the above 2 description, we will find a fit a little more than 80% of the time. That is 4 in 5, where this bid will be very effective. However, that leaves us with 1 in 5 cases, where we need to backtrack and settle for something lower than what we initially agreed upon.

Continuation of the bid:

The general principle is that the responder waits to get a full description of the opener's hand. Only when the opener is single suited, the responder will propose his 5-card suit, if he has one. The responder then chooses which suit to play in.

Sign-off or game invite scenario:

The opener first describes his hand as a single suiter (by bidding 2NT) or double suiter (by any suit bid).

If the opener has only one suit, he bids 2NT. Responder bids 3 (waiting, he may or may not have ) and opener bids his only suit (Could pass if is the suit and sign-off is agreed upon). Responder can either raise, or bid his 5-card suit at this point, as 5-3 fit is a possibility from the other side.

If the opener has two suits, he bids the lower of the suits. The responder systematically bids the next suit (waiting, he may or may not have it - 2 is followed by 2NT). It gives an opportunity for the opener to bid the second suit at the lowest level. There are many cases where the two suits are obvious, either due to interference or just being the top two of the sequence and no waiting is required. If the waiting suit is indeed the opener's second suit, he goes to 3NT.

All this waiting is just to keep the bidding below 3NT, where we could be when fit is not found. Also, it avoids clinging on a minor fit, when a major fit is also present.

Slam invite scenario:

The opener cannot describe whether he has single or double suiter right away. Well, it should not be a problem as there is a lot of bidding to go before a slam. The opener bids the lower of the two suits (or his only one) with the responder waiting. Now opener bids the second suit or rebids to indicate a single suiter. The responder takes it from there.

I would like to thank Umanath Tiwari, Kohur Gowrisankaran, John Hobbins, Chandra Gowrisankaran, Pracheth Srinivasan for their inputs on improving the system.