When responder bids 1NT followed by 2NT in 2/1

Note: I am aware that this concept has been written up elsewhere, but I haven't seen it in any highly detailed way. (If it has been, I'd appreciate a link).

All (constructive) criticism is welcome.

Key:    M=Major      O=Opener      R=Responder

= used for specific distribution (5=5=2=1 means 5, 5, 2 and 1)

Playing 2/1, after an opening 1M, R’s only way to invite to game in NT is to bid 1NT followed by 2NT, showing around a (good) 10 to a (bad) 12 pts. For those who play 1M-1NT as forcing, R will always get the chance to bid 2NT. Those who play 1M-1NT as semi-forcing will seldom miss a game if O passes with anywhere up to a flat 12 count (5-3-3-2) or after 1 on 4=5=2=2 (both as per Bridge World Standard 2017)

Problems arise when O shows a 2 suited hand with 6-4 shape.

KJ8742  74  AKJ5  5                     1-1N; 2-2N; ?

K6  AJ8653  AKJ5  4                    1-1N; 2-2N; ?

Before continuing, it is important to discuss the theory of bidding 6-4 hands. I suspect it is generally played that weak 6-4 hands bid AAB, and stronger hands (those that would accept a game invitation) bid ABA. However, this does not apply in all cases.

I quote Michael Rosenberg from a thread in Bridgewinners: ‘A-B-A as strong does not apply when the opening bid is 1S. It applies to 6-card heart + 4-card m (and only when the response is 1S), and to 6-card diamond + 4-card club (after any 1-level response). I have a feeling this is not properly understood - even by the expert community.’

To which someone replied, ‘maybe not. But I apply it over a forcing NT also. 1-1N; 2 could be strong 6-4.’

Yes, it COULD be. It could also be weak 6-4. Or strong 5-5. Or weak 5-5. The point is that, facing a 1N response, it's more critical to show the second suit than after a 1M response. If partner is 0-5 or 1-6 (or even 0-6) in our suits, rebidding the first suit may lead to disaster. When partner has already guaranteed length in one suit, the probability of them having great length in our second suit has been reduced, so there it is probably percentage to take the risk. Another issue is that the 1N bid better defines responder's range. It's slightly more important for opener to define their range when responder has not.’ (MR)

So if it is accepted that the first 2 example hands above will follow the 6-4 route, what does O do over 2N in each case? It seems that there is no agreed-upon theory concerning the forcing nature of 3M over 2N; is it ‘to play’ or forcing? In a poll I conducted here on BW, which included a wide spectrum of players, 47/63 voted for 3 on hand 1, and 61/76 voted for 3 on hand 2. Clearly this sequence has not been dealt with satisfactorily.

Which brings us to the 5-5 hands.

AQJ43  KJ1054  65        1-1NT; 2-2N; ?

AK764  KQJ74  K5         1-1NT; 2-2N; ?

What does 3 mean over 2N? This time the poll results were 61/83 for 3 on hand 1, treating the bid as a 5-5 hand with no game interest.

On hand 2, 43/83 bid 3N, 21 bid 3 (with the intention of creating a game force), while 10 bid 3.

And one panellist quoted from Bridge World Standard (though I don't know which version); “treat as forcing or non-forcing by which seems more sensible to the observer."

But there is a way to deal effectively with these problems - where O will always follow the AB route after 1M-1NT, whether weak or with a better hand (but not one with enough to force to game by jumping in B).

The 6-4 hands

O’s 3rd bid, the 6 card suit, shows no game interest (ABA).

1-1N; 2/2/2-2N; 3   6-4 weak

1-1NT; 2/2-2N; 3       6-4 weak

With game-going hands, O bids 3; a puppet, forcing R to bid 3. Then;

Spades and hearts

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 6 and 4

Spades and diamonds

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 6 and 4

Spades and clubs

As 3 would be weak (*see 5-5 in and ), 3 is the puppet to 3.

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 6 and 4

Hearts and diamonds

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 6 and 4

Hearts and clubs

As 3 would be weak (*see 5-5 in and ), 3 is the puppet to 3.

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 6 and 4

The 5-5 hands

O’s 3rd bid, rebidding the 2nd suit, shows no game interest (ABB).

1-1N; 2/2/2-2N; 3/3/3   5-5 weak

1-1NT; 2/2-2N; 3/3             5-5 weak

With game-going hands, O bids 3; a puppet, forcing R to bid 3. Then;

Spades and hearts

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 5 and 5 with longer clubs (lower for lower); 5=5=0=3 or 5=5=1=2

3N shows 5 and 5 with longer diamonds (higher for higher); 5=5=3=0 or 5=5=2=1

Spades and diamonds

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 5 and 5 with longer clubs (lower for lower); 5=0=5=3 or 5=1=5=2

3N shows 5 and 5 with longer hearts (higher for higher); 5=3=5=0 or 5=2=5=1

Spades and clubs

As 3 would be weak, 3 is the puppet to 3.

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3N shows 5 and 5

Hearts and diamonds

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3 shows 5 and 5 with longer clubs (lower for lower); 0=5=5=3 or 1=5=5=2

3N shows 5 and 5 with longer spades (higher for higher); 3=5=5=0 or 2=5=5=1

Hearts and clubs

As 3 would be weak, 3 is the puppet to 3.

1-1N; 2-2N; 3-3;

3N shows 5 and 5

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