Multi 2 Defence Revisited

A previous article suggested that Multi defences could consider bypassing initial calls for major-suit take-out doubles because hands with suitable distributions for those bids were relatively rare --- in total just ~ 7% of actionable hands. To make matters worse, about one in six of the doubles would be for the wrong major. Instead, overcaller with a takeout double might wait until the second round, with excellent chances of getting the suits right. Deferring those calls created space for major-suit transfers.

It was also noted that overcaller would have a balanced hand nearly 60% of the time, so dealing with those cases was paramount.

This suggested defence tumbled out. Dreaded 2 opening, then:

X = hearts, any strength

2 = weaker notrump range (suggested 13-15)

2NT = stronger notrump range (16-18)

3m = natural

3NT = strongest notrump range (19+)

Obviously the transfers are awesome. Most commentary was along the lines of ‘2 as 13-15 balanced is nuts’. The reasons were varied, most thinking the call was too risky, and by not showing a good hand with X, it meant bye bye any chance of penalizing the opening side, or perhaps negotiating a comfortable 2-level partial. Some preferred X to include all 16+ hands.

Almost any bid one makes, carries some risk, so I wondered just how nuttier was 2 = 13-15 than other actions most of us take at the table. I admit up front I am painting with a very broad brush with this comparative ‘analysis’, but there might be some insight gained. My rudimentary ‘metric’ is ‘how often a notrump contract is down 2+ tricks’. I've excluded wild distributions from the analysis. In descending order of risk:

When opener starts a 7-card 3-level preempt, overcaller tries 3NT with 16-18, and is down 2+ tricks 22.4% of the time. And if overcaller steps out with 15 balanced, 3NT is down 2+ tricks 28.0% YIKES.

When opener starts Multi (2) and overcaller bids 2 = 13-15 balanced, 2NT is down 2+ tricks 21.0% of the time.

Opener bids an 11-14 weak notrump, and 1NT is down 2+ tricks 18.8% of the time (compare to 15-17 1NT opener at 9.1%)

When opener starts 1, overcaller tries 1NT with 15-17, and is down 2+ tricks 14.2% (compare with cheeky 13-15 1NT overcall at 23.9%)

When opener starts a weak 2, overcaller tries 2NT with 15-17, and is down 2+ tricks 13.6%

So clearly by this primitive metric, 2 = 13-15 is riskier than many actions (but not all!). My weak notrump opener is almost as scary, but I stumble on …

One could mitigate some of the risk by increasing the range floor by one HCP. Also it makes sense for the ranges to be narrow, since advancer cannot invite and must pass or bash. So how plays out 2 = 14-15, and 2NT = 16-17? A major bonus would be that partner will become a better guesser. What are the metrics?

When 2 is 14-15, overcaller is down 2+ tricks in 2NT 17.3%

When 2NT is 16-17, overcaller is down 2+ tricks in 2NT 12.4%

Those look like risks most of us could reasonably assume, especially since we're gaining major-suit transfers. Balanced 12 and 13-pointers,  now unable to be shown immediately, might qualify to be take-out doubles on the second round. So there you go ... major-suit transfers plus good handling of balanced hands. You still cannot penalize the opps however, so if this possibility is critical for you, this defence won't fly.

The commentary left me quite jealous of all the fun we're missing in ACBL land.

I concede maybe the metric I used in this update, is nuts.