Strong, artificial, and forcing Two Club Opening

In Standard systems one bids are natural and limited. Two of a suit was once used to show the strong game-forcing hands, but because these strong hands are rare, most tournament players prefer to play 2D, 2H and 2S to show weak twos or some other hard-to-bid hands. This leaves 2C to show all the strong hands.

How strong is "strong?" Some play that 2C shows only game-forcing hands. Others play that 2C shows near game-forcing or better hands, with "near game-forcing" meaning 8/9 tricks with a long major or 9/10 tricks with a long minor.

Below are the common forms of responses (numbered) and the not-so-common forms (*).

1. 2D response
2. Point responses
3. Control resposes
* Albert 2C responses
* Paradox responses
* Romex responses and follow-ups

Responses to 2C vary from partnership to partnership. Here are the more common ones that I've seen.

1. Negative, positive and waiting 2D

The main purpose of these three is to make a cheap bid (2D). This leaves as much room as possible for opener to describe their hand further.

A. Negative 2D. The 2D bid tells partner that responder might pass a non-jump rebid. One set of players have told me this bid shows about zero to a bad four high card points (hcp); another set of players tell me this shows zero to seven hcp. All other bids are natural and forcing to game. Unfortunately some natural, forcing bids by responder will force opener to rebid at the three level.

B. Positive 2D. The 2D bid shows 8+ hcp or an ace and king. This bid immediately tells partner that slam is possible. All other bids are weak.

C1. Waiting 2D and second negative. In response to 2C, suit responses show good suits and at least eight hcp, and NT responses show stoppers in all suits. Without a suitable hand for a positive bid, responder bids 2D. Responder waits for opener to describe their hand. After opener's rebid, responder shows a weak hand -- that will pass a minimum rebid -- by making a second negative, often the cheapest minor.

C2. Waiting 2D and super-negative 2H. An immediate 2H response shows 0 to 3 or 4 hcp and is passable by opener. 2D is waiting, and other responses are positives.

2. Point count steps

Responder's bids show point ranges. The ranges vary among partnerships. Here is an example of step ranges:

2D 0-4
2H 5-7
2S 8-10
2N 11-13

Personally I've found steps showing points isn't very good since opener doesn't need to know how many points responder has, but rather where those points are and what type of points responder has (ie, ace or queen?).

3. Control count steps

Responder's bids show controls (ace = 2, king = 1). Here is an example range that I've seen:

2D 0-1 controls; responder rebids in the cheapest minor to show a second negative
2H 2 controls
2S 3 controls

These responses are good for slam purposes since opener may need to know how many controls the partnership has. However, you need to have good follow-ups since the bidding will get high quickly. See Romex follow-ups below.

Below are other responses that combine features from above.

* Albert Two Clubs (described in the Granovetters' book "Conventions at a Glance")

2D 7+ points
2H 0-6 points
2S five card or longer spade suit
2N five card or longer heart suit
3C/D natural
3H 0-2 points, balanced hand
3S AKQxxx spades
3N AKQxxx hearts
4H/S AKQJxx or AKQxxxx of major

* Paradox responses. These are espoused by Chris Ryall on his website and in the newsgroup

2D waiting, but positive
2H negative for hearts, maybe not spades
2S negative for spades, positive for hearts

* Romex responses. These are described in George Rosenkranz's Romex books (e.g., "Bridge: The Bidder's Game"). 2C is game-forcing, except a rebid of 2NT shows 21-22 hcp).

2D 0-1 controls
2H 2 controls
2S 3 controls
2N 4 controls in more than two suits
3C 4 controls in two suits
3D 5+ controls
3H 2-2-4-5 shape, 6+ hcp, less than Qx in the majors, an honor in each minor
3S 2-2-5-4 shape, 6+ hcp, less than Qx in the majors, an honor in each minor
3N solid seven card minor, no side A or K
4C/D solid seven or eight card major (C=H, D=S), no side A or K
4H/S semi-solid seven or eight card major

Follow-ups to Romex responses

2C-2D. Responder's rebid of 3C is a second negative showing 0-3 hcp (does not include a king). Opener's jump rebids show long diamonds and a four card major: 3H (hearts), 3S (spades, with three hearts), 3N (spades, denies three hearts), 4x (4450 shape with a void in the corresponding suit C=H, D=S). After 2C-2D; 3S- 4C shows a strong heart raise, 4N shows a strong spade raise and other jumps are splinter raises of spades or diamonds.

2C-2H/2S. Opener's jump rebids show their five in the their original bid (2H/2S even though these showed controls) and four in the other major, i.e., 2C-2H; 3S shows four spades and five hearts and 3N shows four spades and six or more hearts. Also 2C-2S; 3N shows four hearts and five or more spades.

Romex Raise. With no agreed trump suit, the inability to raise below game, and without a short suit, opener or responder can make a Romex Raise of 4NT to show a strong raise. The strong raise shows extras in cover cards (ie, queens, shortness, etc).

Fourth Suit Raise. Similar to the Romex Raise, after three suits have been bid, bidding the fourth suit is used to show a strong raise.

2C-2x; 3C-3D/3N. After opener rebids 3C, responder bid of 3D asks for a four card major. Responder's bid of 3N over 3C shows an unbalanced hand with diamonds, so the 3D ask does not guarantee that responder has a major.

Search for the Four-Four Fit. After a 5-3 or 5-4 fit has been found, opener asks responder to show a good, side four card suit (at least Qxxx) in an effort to find a superior grand that requires a 4-4 fit. Opener makes the ask by "making a meaningless bid," ie, jumping in a new suit or rebidding in NT when a previous NT bid was a trump asking bid.

Asking bids. Opener has at his disposal two types of asking bids: trump (TAB) and control (CAB). Romex plays that a Romex Raise or a Fourth Suit Raise is TAB. Also, a nonjump to 4NT (and 3NT after three level agreement) is TAB.

TAB asks the quality of the trumps with the responses in steps: 1st, minimum; 2nd, minimum length with honor (A/K/Q); 3rd, extra length no honor; 4th, extra length with honor; 5th, minimum with two honors; 6th, extra length with two honors. CAB asks for the controls held in a suit with the responses: 1st denies first or second round control; 2nd has second round control; 3rd has first round control; 4th has KQ; 5th has AKx(x...); 6th has total control. A repeat of CAB in the same suit asks for third round control: 1st step denies, 2nd step shows doubleton, and 3rd shows the queen.