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Trash Twos
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Reports from high-level tournaments show that preemptive bidding gets friskier every year. Many experts have found that obstructing the opponents' auction is a worthwhile exchange for being less able to reach their own side's best contract (not to mention the greater risk that the opponents will inflict a severe penalty). 

When nonvulnerable, I like to take an extremely aggressive approach and open a weak two with almost any hand that contains a five- or six-card suit and four to ten high-card points. (One of my partners has christened these Trash Twos.) However, standard constructive methods are not well-suited to this style because the partnership often doesn't belong in opener's potentially very mediocre five-card suit.

The following response structure usually permits the partnership to maneuver elsewhere when there's a misfit and to conduct intelligent auctions when the nature of opener's suit is in doubt:

  • Two of a major shows a five-card or longer suit and is presumably constructive. (It's usually best to pass smoothly with a weak misfit; sometimes the opps will bail you out.) Opener may pass, raise, rebid a semi-solid six-card suit, or with a misfit bid a concentration of strength with extras or two notrump to scramble if minimum.
  • Bids from two notrump through the suit below opener's are transfers. Opener usually completes a transfer into an unbid minor, but may cuebid a short suit with a maximum and a good fit. A transfer to 3 over 2 is treated the same way, but responder is presumed to be at least invitational. Over opener's acceptance of a transfer, responder may pass, invite by bidding three of opener's suit with doubleton support (or rarely a stiff high honor), or, if game forcing, bid a four-card major or three notrump (again implying a doubleton or stiff high honor in opener's suit). Opener then places the contract. Responder may also show a fit and slam interest by transferring to a long, strong minor then jumping to game in opener's suit.
  • A transfer into opener's suit shows three-card or better support and is invitational to game or slam. Opener rebids three of his suit with a minimum, bids game with extras but little slam interest, or cuebids with a suitable hand if responder is making a slam try.
  • A raise to three of opener's suit is preemptive with as little as high-honor doubleton.
  • A jump in a new suit at the three-level is natural and game forcing. Opener may cuebid with support and a maximum.
  • Three notrump is to play implying a singleton or void in opener's suit.
  • 4 is a keycard-ask in opener's suit.
  • 4 over 2 (or 2 if played as weak - see below) shows five-plus cards in both majors. Opener places the contract
  • A raise to four of a major is to play and may be either weak or strong.
  • A jump to four of an unbid major is to play, presumably with the expectation that it will have a play.

While this structure doesn't cover every possibility, responder has the opportunity to drop, invite, or force in either minor and to invite or force in either major. It reverses the usual approach of opener describing his hand to responder via two notrump by instead having responder describe his hand to opener via a transfer. This way responder can distinguish between doubleton and longer support, and the partnership can sometimes find a better landing spot than a five-two fit.

When nonvulnerable, my regular partnerships like to open Trash Twos as often as possible so we place no limitations on suit quality or distribution other than at least a five-card suit and four to ten high-card points (though we need a decent suit when vulnerable). However, any partnership that wishes to try these methods is welcome to set whatever restrictions it likes.

We've had enough success with this approach that we've started playing 2 as a Trash Two. We can deal with most very strong hands by (a) responding very light to opening suit bids, (b) playing 4 and 4 as strong major one-suiters, and (c) modifying our notrump structure so that we can live without needing 2 to show a very strong balanced hand.

Trash Twos are helpful for much more than their preemptive value. First, we can make some useful inferences during the auction when partner hasn't made or raised a Trash Two. Even better are the occasional opportunities to improve our defense because we know more about partner's hand when he opens a Trash Two. But the thing from which I've gotten the most pleasure is how the negative inferences after opening a Trash Two can guide me toward making better leads. To give but one example, I recently opened 2 holding Jxxx AQxxx xx xx and saw the auction go 2 - 3 - P - 3NT. It seemed very unlikely that I could set up tricks in the heart suit so I avoided making a heart lead. Declarer held Kxx in hearts and without a heart lead was unable to come to nine tricks. Even though we didn't keep our opps from their normal contract, Trash Twos helped give us a top. 

Playing Trash Twos is a lot of fun. I hope you'll give them a try!

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