Advanced Responses to Two Club Openers

When partner opens a strong 2♣ and your hand looks like a vast wasteland, the standard 2♦ (waiting) approach really wastes an opportunity to say so and requires a possibly vague second bid. Likewise, if your hand is really good but has no good five-card suit, you also can’t say that until later. These two conventions do a better job on one or both of these fronts.

Another system is “steps”, a system in which responder shows his point count in steps of three HCP starting with 2♦!(0-3), 2♥(4-6), etc. This is not an advanced convention, it is a mistake.

Control Responses To Two Clubs

By partnership agreement, responder shows Aces and Kings. Counting A=2 and K=1,

  • 2♦! = (negative) zero or one (that is, no Aces, perhaps one King)
  • 2♥! = two (one Ace or two Kings)
  • 2♠! = exactly one Ace and one King
  • 2N! = three Kings
  • 3♣! = 4 points, 3♦! = 5 points, etc.

After 2♣ – 2♦! – 2N, responder can pass. Systems are on. If opener rebids a suit, however, responder must bid again. After 2♣ - 2♦, opener can jump to 3N if willing to be in that contract opposite a wasteland.

Continuations After Positive Responses

After any positive response to 2♣, we are in a game-forcing auction. Opener with a balanced hand should bid 2N, and systems are on. Opener should not jump in no-trump immediately – give partner a chance to transfer or bid Puppet Stayman first. Since we’re in a game-forcing auction, no need to rush.

After opener’s rebid in a suit, responder should raise if possible; or show a good five-card suit, or bid no-trump.

The usual techniques are in play after opener bids a suit and responder raises. The problem cases arise when responder does not have support. If responder shows a suit it should be a good suit or a good four-card suit with extra points interested in slam somewhere. Otherwise a fast-arrival 3N shows no particular extras besides the control-card count already given.

Using Control Responses, the responder should generally not be pushing to explore for slam; the opener will likely already know if it is possible or not. 5N pick-a-slam should be remembered when you believe we have the points and controls but haven’t found a suit.

Using 4N as RKC is not often useful with this convention. Rather, if opener rebids 4N, it is asking for the suit of the lowest control held by responder. Next, opener may bid the next step up to ask for the next lowest control, although this is rare.

Two Hearts Bust Response to Two Clubs

With partnership agreement, the responses to 2♣ become:

  • 2♥! shows a bust hand, with no Ace or King and not even two Queens.
  • 2N! shows 8+ points and five good hearts
  • The other bids remain the same, except 2♦! is now alerted as “game forcing”.

If the opener rebids 2N over 2♥, the responder may pass.

If the opener rebids notrump over any other response, it shows point count:

  • 2N = 22-24
  • 3N = 25-27
  • 4N= 28 – 31

At that point responder is “captain”.

After 2♣ – 2♥! - any suit bid, the responder must bid again.