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Pre-empting weak 2's with a side 4cM.
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South
2
KJ82
KJ10743
63

First seat favorable, do you don't you?

Whether or not you personally like weak 2's, we all play against some form-or-other of them, and have seen spectacular successes and failures. Overall, although it's only psychological perhaps, my experience is that when I've had the chance to pre-empt, generally I've achieved reasonable results. So to get you in the mood: I would like to open weak 2's more often, and more effectively. How to do this?

Andy Gumperz has written some really excellent articles on when to pre-empt, and at what level, going through various considerations such as:

  • relative vulnerability
  • seat position
  • suit quality & ODR
As an avid follower, I can't add anything to this top-notch content, but there is one thing that has always bothered me.
I like to bid a lot (one of my regular partners once asked if I had a PASS card in my box), and when I pick up a 6 card or suit, I reflexively start to bypass the green card.
Still, there are always some bells that ring:
  1. poor suit quality.
  2. a side 4c Major: we could easily miss our best scoring fit at MPs, or worst of all never reach our cold 4-4 M suitgame.
  3. a side void

Clearly when vulnerable, 1)is the first check.

So lets assume that given the colors, the suit and overall quality ofyour hand is sufficient. What "sufficient" should mean: read Andy's articles!

Before I go on, I should mention that agood pre-empt for me is one with a high ODR, and useful pre-emptive and/or constructive value. In other words, you want to get in, stuff your fist down the opponents' throat and generally be happy that you got the chance to bid. Therefore a side4/5 card minor is quite a good thing, and never to be feared. Similarly, if your suit quality is not so hot, but you have a 7th piece, go ahead, live a little. When your offensive power gets toohigh sure then you can consider opening at the 1 level to not miss slam.

For option 3) yes voids are cool on offense, but they really suck if partner decides to play in his suit (guess which one that is?) or bid the "cold" 3NT with his "running" suit. Hands with voids are not so common, and I find it hard to judge when I shouldbid and when to pass. I'm pretty consistent in that I usually bid, if in doubt.

However 2) is different, in that a 4=6 hand is very powerful on offense, and treating it as a "weakness" or a reason to not bid just seems plainwrong. Wewant to be bidding! It's only fear, that we miss our 4-4 M fit, that holds us back.

To help understand why this is the case: at least to me, it appears that "standard" follow-ups to an opening weak 2 are misconceived.

There are lots of different treatments of course, but in basic, the most common are:

  • RONF (by far the most common in the intermediate circles I swimabout in)
  • 2x-2y is NF, with 2NT as the forcing ask, 2x-3y is F
  • only 2NT is forcing

The 2NT ask is either a feature, or OGUST type ask, possibly modified. Nonetheless, and again this is just my current opinion, both these common treatments are aiming at the wrong ballpark: they assumestrain is relatively clearly defined. Responder can place the contract (usually 3M, 4M or 3NT) depending on finding out some information about opener's honor location, or trump-suit-quality and general strength, or some mix. Its simply not designed to even check if partner has a 4cM because the world-view is limited.

Rather, we should instead ask: What would we, as responder, like to accomplish opposite an opening weak 2:

  • Get to 3NT or opener's 4M when it's right
  • Manage to playoursuit when it's right
  • Get to any reasonable 4-4 side M suit game
  • Get to 5-3 M games too.

So as a first pass, and this is pretty common in more expert circles (at least I'm led to believe).

2x - 2y is NF constructive.

Opener uses some semblance of common sense.

For instance 2 - 2. Opener can pass with a minimum and 2 pieces, correct to 3m or 3 with a stiff, or raise with a decent hand and 3, or bid game with a superb hand-in-context.

For simplicity, and lack of room, 2x - 3y is GF natural.

However 2 - 3M and 2 - 3 should be very serious strain suggestions, since there are negative inferences from hand types that can use the following 2NT feature ask.

For a feature ask, opener assumes responder has a~strongNT strength hand until told otherwise. After 2x - 2NT,

3 = feature, or have a 4cM; 3 asks (if interested); 3//NT tell the obvious stories.

3x = minimum weak 2. (If you want, you can of course disregard very weak side 4 card Majors. Judgement before system)

3OM = 3 piece fragment, headed by at least Qxx (Kxx if you prefer). Over 2 - 2NT, both 3 and 3 are fragment showing.

3NT = balanced maximum, denying the above, usually 6322 shape, without a quality OM fragment.

4-level bids are natural and shape showing.

The "reverse Stayman" 3 combined with the fragment-showing bids, allows responder to find the right M games when necessary. It also conceals his hand

As an example, consider:

North
AQ1054
AQ4
Q96
K8
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

And they lead a spade. Oops. Hey it's not cold, but beats them leading a club from the get-go, no? I can't do anything about the MP-oriented stuff, where we still might miss 2M, but I think there is substantial gain at IMPs.

I should add that I learned the treatment over 2 from Richard Blumenthal, but I think it's even better generalized for over all weak 2's!

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