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The Good-Bad 2NT

After the thousands of BW contributions with horrible topics on cheating, WBF etc... (yes I read them all and made me very sad...)  I would like to give it a try to spend some time again on a specific Bridge topic, the use of a convention named Good-Bad 2NT. Earlier I agreed with my Pard to play this convention in certain situations, but coming across some stuff about this convention I had some second thoughts.   There is interesting literature on this, particular from Marty Bergen in his Book "Better Bidding with Bergen", from Neil H Timm in his book "2/1 Game Force 2014, A Modern Approach" and there was an interesting BW contribution from Yuan Shen with some useful comments by Oren Kriegel further elaborating on a publication in 1999 Bridge World.

There is a lot of discussion available how to use this convention after a double on a Weak-Two opening or overcall by Opponents.  Also in some other situations  this convention has merits.

Let us take the bidding sequence

(1M) - Dbl - (2M) - ?

Should we prefer Lebensohl or Reversed Lebensohl (the latter if I understand correctly according to Bridge World the more favourable approach)

In Reverse Lebensohl we agree the following approach:

  • 2NT is a conventional relay to 3, in order to show a better hand and good suit
  • Direct 3 /3 /3 are natural and competitive, can be fairly weak. (Non-forcing.)

In Standard Lebensohl the meanings are switched:  2NT contains the bad hands, and all direct bids are good.

Again, if I understood correctly Marty Bergen first tried Reverse Lebensohl, but converted to Standard Lebensohl calling it the Good-Bad 2NT.

Yuan Shen, in his very nice contribution first noted a comment by Oren Kriegel that it is better to play a slightly different version of Good 2NT

"Bidding 2NT either showing all good hands BUT in a higher ranking suit above , or a weak competitive hand with a suit. On the other hand, a direct bid in shows a good hand, but direct higher bids showing weak competitive hands." So playing this Kriegel version:

(1 ) - Dbl - (2 ) - ?

  • 2NT = either bad or good or suit
  • Direct 3 is good
  • Direct 3 or 3 is bad.

Like Shen commented:

  • The underlying principle behind Good-2NT / Reverse Lebensohl is: if you're weak, bid your suit (direct = weak) ASAP. Partner can compete if necessary, and should know what to lead if defending 3M (Opponents tend to have more values, on average).
  • The underlying principle behind Bad-2NT / Standard Lebensohl says: on the contrary, we don't mind defending 3 if we have a bad hand, but we need to show our good suit (direct = good) ASAP. We don't want to miss game if it's there.

Shen in his contribution - from a Standard Lebensohl view - came with a nice tweak I highly appreciate:

The tweak applies only over (1 ) - Dbl - (2 ) - ?

And implies:

  • A 2NT bid showing either a bad or suit, or a good hand with a suit
  • A direct 3 /3 showing a good hand with the minor suit
  • A direct 3 showing a weak competitive hand with a suit.

As Sen emphasises as benefit:

If you bid 2NT with a bad minor, you shrug and pass if the Opponents bump to 3 before you clarify. Alternatively, with a 6-bagger and an itch you can always try 4 or 4 (Gerber or Derber).

However, with a good hand with a suit, you start with 2NT and double any further competitive bid. Partner will know why you doubled… So with this tweak you can always clarify for Partner your good hand with a suit (the key other Major) in any competitive setting.

Good-2NT does not do this. If you double 3 Partner will still wonder about the hand. The double - after the 2NT bid - will show a good hand, but he still does not know the suit we have (, or ), which makes it very hard to make a correct decision.

On the other hand, playing simply Bad-2NT loses being able to bid weak hearts immediately (the key suit when partner doubles spades).

Although not fully mentioned in Shen's contribution, along these lines I think we also have:

(1) - Dbl - (2) - ?

  • 2 = non-forcing with 4+ crd (generally less than 8 hcp)
  • 2NT = either bad or suit or a good suit (the latter showing 5+ crd, 12+ hcp, GF)
  • Direct 3 or 3 is good
  • Direct 3 a Non-forcing say 8–11 hcp, 5+ crd

Worth mentioning, reciting Shen about another possibility along these lines:

1 / 1 - (Pass) - 1 - (2)?


  • 2NT = bad 3 / 3 hand, or good 3 raise (plans to double 3 if they bid it)
  • direct 3 / 3 = better values
  • direct 3 = weak raise to 3

This distinguishes good raises from the “I have to raise on four-trumps” (usually weak-NT strength) raise.

This also might possibly distinguish a direct 4 , versus 2NT-then-4 , versus 3 cue.  (Will think about that Laughing)

So far so good, everyone is entitled of course to his own opinion... Laughing I like the Standard Lebensohl approach as advocated by Marty Bergen, but taking into account this proposed tweak by Shen.

My problem comes reading about other possibilities to use this convention.  Particularly where Marty Bergen writes about the situation to use it when bidding is still on the 1-level.   I would appreciate to hear views of others and maybe get some advice...

What is my problem?


      Pass    1      1


As Marty Bergen says: would it not be nice to distinguish hands like

x   xx    K Q J 10 xxx     A Q x  from   xx   K x    A K J 10 xx   A Q x ?

Of course in principle I agree..   But to do so we have to refrain from a natural 2NT....

As Bergen says:

We would jump to 3 with the weaker first hand as preemptive to allow Opponents as little room as possible, and using 2NT Good-Bad with the stronger second hand. (So adopting Reverse Lebensohl when jumping from 1-level...)

However, I really wonder if we can afford to skip the natural meaning here of a 2NT bid, a fairly balanced hand with 18-19 hcp and good stopper in Opponents suit. Maybe rare, but what is the alternative?  I did not find a solution adopting the Bergen approach skipping the natural 2NT. What for instance bid with a hand like

A J x  xx  A K J 10 xx   A Q x     Is there a real alternative for a natural 2NT, realizing we play a double as Support Double with 3 card fit...

O.K.  we could argue here that we refrain from a Good-Bad 2NT here. We still can bid a jump to 3 with the first weak hand  and use the option of a cue of 2 with the stronger second hand.  In case Partner rebids 2NT (showing a stopper or rebids 3, we could I think rebid a strong invitational but not 100% forcing 3 to show a strong hand with a suit (or even venture a 3NT).  And if Partner rebids 3 we could venture a game...   Is this sufficient or is there a better solution?    

O.K. Say we keep our strong natural balanced 2NT in the sequence above how about the following?


1     Pass      1   Dbl


According to Marty Bergen we bid 3 with a hand like x   Q 10 9 xxxx   A K J 10   x   and we bid a Good-Bad 2NT with a hand like   A J    A Q J 10 xx A J x    J x.   After the more or less forced 3 reply we rebid 3 again showing a strong invitational although not 100% forcing strong hand with good suit.

However, note my problem here… saying in the previous hand that I would like to bid a natural 2NT with 18-19 hcp and stopper in Opponent’s suit, here - with the second hand - we cannot bid such a natural 2NT because we clearly lack a stopper in the suit, which might be a good suit of Opponents.

On the other hand, we lack the possibility of a cue-bid.  But o.k., say that after a double we follow Bergen's approach and do not employ a natural 2NT, but use it to show a strong  suit, or maybe less likely a weak hand with a suit and a minor that we will pass after Partner rebids 3 or correct to 3.

What do we do then with a hand like: J x    A Q J 10 xx   A J x    K Q x ?

Again taking into account that we use a Redouble as a Support Redouble with 3 card fit.

I would indeed like to bid 3 with the first hand, more or less preemptive. But then how do we show the last strong balanced hand,  if a natural 2NT is not available?

Any help in my struggle?  Laughing  Or maybe I am just a system freak who simply like to see where I can improve.....  I hope you appreciate a discussion that is not about cheating, but apologizes if it is too long or not interesting enough to comment....

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