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Responder Shows responses to strong 2 - symmetric style
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One of the reasons players struggle over strong 2 auctions is the failure to adjust the methods to the higher level of the auction.  

Standard auctions are generally a conversation:

1 - 1NT;  

2 - 3

"I have spades"

"I probably don't and I have less than a game force."

"I also have four hearts and less than a game force."

"That doesn't interest me.  I have a bunch of clubs and we'll be lucky to go plus here."

 

Conversational bidding general works as a back and forth until one partner has learned enough information to take control, either by signing off, initiate cuebidding or bidding old Black (A relay every standard player knows!)

 

Conversational auctions starting with 2 generally go like this (similar if puppet is used):

2 - 2;

2NT - 3;

3 - 3NT.

"I have a strong hand."

"I don't have a positive."

"I have 22-23 balanced...ish"

"Do you have a major?"

"No."

"Let's play 3NT." 

 

 

The problem is that a lot of hands that open 2NT are slam positive opposite modest values and a fitting long suit.  However, you don't get to find that out, because opener is too busy showing his balanced range.  Responder will never discover a minor fit below 3NT and, as we all know, we wind up in 3NT a lot as a result, often when there is an excellent slam to which we haven't even sniffed at.  Imagine responder in the above auction holds:

 

North
xx
Kxxx
Qxxxxx
x
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
?

Is he really supposed to go above 3NT?  This is just the sort of set up where 13-17 imps are up for grabs.  Maybe opener has clubs and you're in dire straights above 3NT.  Maybe he fits diamonds and slam is cold.  

Opener:

North
xx
Kxxx
Qxxxxx
x
South
AKQ
Axx
Kx
AK10xx

or

North
xx
Kxxx
Qxxxxx
x
South
AKx
Ax
AKxx
A109x

On a bad day, the top hand might not even make 3NT.  The bottom hand produces a grand.  

 

The key here is that the shapely hand needs to show their shape as best they can and then let the big hand judge where to play.  

 

But with the auction starting at 2, things are REALLY cramped. 

 

Relay club players who wind up relaying opposite double negatives are able to start at this level, but they already found out that partner held double-negative values at the 1-level.  Is it possible to disambiguate values and show distribution as responder to 2?

Yes, it is possible to do most things here.  You won't be able to show exact shape, but you will be able to get your two longest suits across.  The responses of 2 and higher all fold into the symmetric relay style.  The 4 bid will always be reserved for whatever would land in 3NT, but with too strong a hand to stand partner passing 3NT.

 

2 = 0-5, (if 5 then no controls) or any or 6+ balanced

all higher responses show 5+, although if 5, then at least one control.

2 = 4+ hearts unbalanced

2 = 4+ spades  unbalanced

2NT = 3-suiter short major

3 = clubs, possibly also diamonds but not 5-5

3 = diamonds, 1-suiter

3 = minors 5-5

3 = 4 clubs, 5 diamonds

3NT = 4 clubs, 6 diamonds (limited)

 

If you show a suit, then the next step asks, and you can identify all your two-suiters and give some further information below 3NT, as well as identifying all 5 and 6 card 1-suiters.   The whole scheme will follow on the last page.  You can also swap hearts and spades to promote right-siding majors. 

 

After

2 - 2;

Opener can ask with 2 or can bid his own suit.  If he asks,

2 - ??

2 = 0-5, not 5-5

2NT = 0-5, 5-5 (mostly to prevent the bad hand from grabbing the NT)

3+ = cheapest 4-card suit in a balanced hand of 5++ (but not +, which bids 3NT... because...)

Now opener can bid 3 to ask for a 4-card major, or 3 of a major to look for 3+-card support for his own major.  

 

If you arrive at the double-negative 0-5 2, it is time to turn off relay and bid naturally.  I'd recommend though using 3 as an artificial GF, so you can still locate a long suit in responder's hand below 3NT, so long as responder isn't so inconsiderate as to hold clubs.  Note that you aren't far behind the standard 2 openers at the time the auction has reached 2.  You haven't shown suits, but you know more about responder's range.  

If you arrive at the double-negative 2NT, showing 5-5, then 3 asks partner for their cheapest 5-card suit.  Openers new suits at the 3-level after that are asking for 5 in that suit.

The symmetric follow ups take some effort to learn.  While 2 openers don't exactly grow on trees, they are also the land of many slams, placing a premium on accurate bidding.   

 

2 - 2 (4+ , not 4333 or 4432)

2 - ??

2NT - also spades

3 - also clubs

3 - 5+ hearts with diamonds

3 - 4 hearts, longer diamonds

3 - 5 hearts one suited

3NT - 6 hearts one suited (NF)

4 - 7+ hearts, one suited

4 - 6 hearts, one suited, extra values

 

When the initial response is 2, it denies hearts, the relay is 2NT and the responses become exactly the same as above 3 and up. 

 

When the initial response is 3, it denies either major.  The relay is 3 and 3 would show diamonds with only 4 cards in the higher suit (just as above) and the higher responses maintain their meaning

 

When the initial response is 3, showing the diamond one-suiter, the relay is 3 and one-suiters are shown the exact same way as for other suits.

 

Symmetry.

 

2 - 2;

2 - 2NT;

3 - ??

3 = also a minor

3 = 4 spades, longer hearts

3 = 5-5

3NT = 5-4

4 = 6+ - 4

4 = 5-4, extra values

 

Now check if responder had instead bid 3, showing clubs instead of 2NT.

 

2 - 2;

2 - 3;

3 - ??

3 - 4 spades, longer clubs

3 - 5-5

3NT - 5-4 limited

4 - 6-4

4 - 5-4 extra values

 

Everything still falls in exactly the same place.  

Also check that if 3 is ever bid when showing a 2-suiter, it always shows 4 cards in the higher suit and 5+ in the lower one.  3 is a relay now and you get to show your length the same way.  It always goes:

Reversing shape

Long 2-suiters

Non-reversing shape

 

Opener can, at any time, interrupt relay to bid 4 to ask for controls and spiral scan after that is also possible.

But I can hear you now... your first example - your relay would take you PAST 3NT on the misfit!

North
xx
Kxxx
Qxxxxx
x
South
AKQ
Axx
Kx
AK10xx
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

 

But no, it won't.  Once opener finds out about the misfit, he bids 3NT - he does not ask for diamond length with 3.  

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