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Fundamentally, looks like everybody wants to be cool for using a 2-suiter opening. However, I saw countless of “abuse” (OK, OK…too strong? “inappropriate use”, then) from the beginner players, even the intermediate ones, in regard to 2-suiter opening.

In this regards, “cowboy bidding” probably describes most of the “wrong-doing”. For example, they open with the inconsistency of suit quality (too strong or too weak at random), disregarding vulnerability and the opener eagerly and freely rebid their second suit as if it is the biggest invention since iPhone, to name a few.

Annoyingly powerful 2-suiter opening

Before we go trough the fundamentals, let us see why 2-suiter opening is very powerful:

  1. Take away so many bidding spaces from the opponent, yet very specific to partner
  2. Provide better safety compared to the normal Weak Two (even when misfit)
  3. Can have a game with minimal point

The disadvantage?

On the other hand, the discouraging factors are:

  • Not come up very often
  • Need to be handled with care (not for beginner)

The Fundamentals of Using a 2-suiter opening

Default Visualisation/ Template

  • Distribution: 5-5-2-1 (most common)
  • Starting loser: 9 (if HCP = 0)
  • HCP: 5-10
  • Maximum loser: 8.5
  • Minimum loser: 6.5
  • Shape Illustration:
BestWorstTypical
AQxxxQxxxxKxxxx
AxxxxQxxxxKxxxx
xxJxQx
xxx
6.5 losers8.5 losers8losers

So, looking at the spectrum above, we can use “8-HCP – 8 losers” to be the representative of a 2-suiter opening

General principles

  1. Consistency is the key. Your partner needs to have an expectation as to how bad or how good your opening is
    • Make a firm agreement with your partner as what kind of minimum a hand to open
  2. Open more conservatively when the vulnerability is not in your favour. But see no (1)
  3. The responder is the absolute captain of the bidding sequence
  4. Use a secondary tool (beside HCP) to evaluate hand, for example: losing trick count (LTC) to gauge the consistency of the quality. * If it is too strong, it is better to not open or “upgrade” the hand to do the level-1 opening.
    • Do not open with better than 6.5-7 losers. It is too strong. Remember, the partner can pass the opening!
  5. Generally, because of limited bidding space and bidding communication, the responder as captain do not have a way to tell opener where the contract would be. So, when doing the key-card asking, do not include the King of Trump as a key card (opener do not know what the trump is yet…)

As Opener: the easy party

Now, let’s further define the principles that an opener need to follow:

  • The opener makes the opening bid, and most of the time shall never bid again except ‘Pass’. You should not bid your 2nd suit voluntarily.
  • There are 2(two) ONLY exceptions when you can bid again:
    1. Partner makes inquiry bid, for example, key-card asking bid or other artificial inquiry/forcing bid
    2. The table is on a competitive bid situation (partner and opponent(s) have made bids). In this case:
    • You may raise/support the new suit that your partner bid.
    • -or- you bid your 2nd suit because it is an extraordinary hand (i.e at least 65+ with a good point).

As mentioned above, to bid again, your hand has to be extraordinary because partner already knows you have 55+. If interested with your second suit, your partner shall make the inquiry bid. Without it, realize that your partner doesn’t want to know about your second suit.

Also, why is it a requirement that your partner and at least one of the opponents should have made some bids? That’s because your partner could be in the middle of setting up a trap for an opponent and you ruin the plan. Remember the responder is always the captain in this opening bid.

As Responder: the captain

Next, let’s see what is the guidelines when you become the responder:

  1. Decide immediately whether a game (or better) is possible. Otherwise, pass or sign off as low as possible.
  2. Except for artificial inquiry and keycard asking, all bids are a sign-off (pass-able)
  3. All doubles are penalty. So, no take-out double from the responder.
  4. Use the standard template to visualize opener’s hand

So?

Now the only missing is a good, integrated and powerful opening list to play. Here is one example.
Happy Bridging….