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Modern Jacoby 2NT: What is your preferred use of a break-the-relay bid?

What is your preferred use for an idle bid in a relay sequence after a modern Jacoby 2NT sequence?

Allow me to establish the context for the question.  Assume an auction start of 1-2NT.

Standard Jacoby 2NT suffers from several deficiencies:

  • Opener’s rebid of 3, 3, and 3 identify opener’s short (0-1) suit, but does not disclose opener’s overall strength
  • Opener’s rebid of 4, 4, and 4 identify opener’s five card side suit, but does not disclose opener’s overall strength
  • Opener’s rebid of 3, 3NT, and 4 identify opener’s hand as semi-balanced and identify the strength of opener (high, medium, and low, respectively), but does not disclose whether opener is 5-3-3-2, 5-4-2-2, or 6-3-2-2

In addition, standard Jacoby 2NT suffers from the potential for gratuitous disclosure to the defense.  When both opener and responder are minimum – meaning the chances for slam are remote –, the responses to Jacoby 2NT still disclose distributional information to the defense.

As a result of the above deficiencies to standard Jacoby 2NT, I believe that most experts have adopted some modern, relay-based forms of Jacoby 2NT.  The basic architecture of Jacoby 2NT remains the same – responder asks, opener answers – but, through the use of relays, opener is generally able to tell responder not only more information about opener’s distribution, but also information in more circumstances about opener’s strength.  In addition, the modern Jacoby 2NT limits the amount of gratuitous distribution disclosure to the defense when neither opener nor responder has the extra values required for slam.

Although there are many forms of modern Jacoby 2NT, the one with which I am familiar is described by Larry Cohen on his website.

As noted in this thread, the modern form of Jacoby 2NT arose in a club game a few nights ago.  Our sequence had begun as follows:

1       2NT

3, with 3 disclosing a non-minimum hand of 5-4-2-2 distribution.

At this stage, responder could have continued the relay by asking opener to identify the four card suit, by bidding 3.  Or, responder could have disclosed some sort of totally slam unsuitable minimum, by jumping to 4.

But the question at hand in this article – a question that I suppose could be applied to other relays in different modern Jacoby 2NT auctions – is, what is the preferred meaning to a break-the-relay bid, in the sequence above that break-the-relay bid being responder’s second round call of 3NT, 4, 4, or 4?

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