Al The Plumber

Chaos After Artificial 2C Opening Bids!

In recent years, I have played in some National events, after having stopped playing in most of them over 20 years ago.  Well — the more things change, the more they stay the same!


Bidding after strong artificial 2C bids often was ill-defined in “the old days”, especially in competition or when the opener did not have some sort of NT hand.  “Experts” didn’t even know what was standard in some rather basic situations.  Furthermore, even when partners were on the same wavelength and there was no competition, it was often impossible to find the best contract.


Fast forward 20+ years.  I see that a lot of this is still true.  Here are some examples.



I. These two recent auctions caused beaucoup disputes, even among some of the world’s best players, and even though there weren’t many possible choices of bids with the actual 2C openers’ hands.


A. 2C – (2S) – P – (3S)


B. 2C – (3D) – P – (P)


In both cases, assume that the responders’ Passes showed some type of values that rated to make game or more reasonable.  (X would have shown junk or a penalty X.)


So know we have the “simple” question, “What does X by opener mean in standard ‘expert’ bidding?”  Also, in example A (non-pass out seat), “What does Pass mean in standard ‘expert’ bidding?”  In addition, if you think that any of those X’s or Passes should mean something else, what is it?


II. If you are super ambitious, please consider some of the more general cases of an overcall by LHO, Pass by partner, and then Pass or support at various levels by RHO.


Also, consider auctions such as 2C – (P) – (2D) – (any non-Pass) with 2D negative/waiting.  If you play something other than 2D negative/waiting, please include that if you wish.



III. In any of the above kinds of situations in which LHO does not pass, what kind of strength, suit, distribution, etc. does responder need to bid a suit?


In I.A above do any of these qualify?


A. x Kxxxx KJxx xxx

B. x KJxxx Kxxx xxx

C. x QJxx Axxxx xxx

D. x Jxxx AQxxx xxx

E. xxx Kxxxx KJxx x

F. xxx KJxxx Kxxx x

G. xxx QJxx Axxxx x

H. xxx Jxxx AQxxx x


(One of these was the actual hand, but I’m not telling which it was. J )



Due to Comcast email limitations, I have too many addresses to have discussions.  If you want to post your answers, please put them on my Al the Plumber blog on or  You may send them to me instead, and I might include them in later general or specific comments.  I won’t use your name if you say not to.


Go to it!


Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy!


Bill CubleyFebruary 11th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

A principle I use is that when 2 Clubs is opened to respond by bidding a 5+card major immediately because the need for the strong hand to get a lead into a tenace is not as important.

It is more important to show game+ values immediately becasue opening at the 2 level robs a lot of bidding space.

So 2C – 2S, 3S – 4S shows in minimum game force. I never promise 2 of the top 3 honors as partner has 20+ [over half the HCP in the deck] and limiting responder is poor bridge.

My late but longest ever partner did not like this but we usually made the game/slam easily enough. He once held 100 honors in the suit i bid.

Another partner laid down 7 trump in dummy for my grand slam. After answering questions about how many spades I could hold. The great Stone Face merely said 5 or more. Upon bieng pressed he admitted if I had 6 I might have opened a weal 2.

JKWFebruary 12th, 2013 at 7:05 am

Hi Al,

I have one for the books on the subject of strong artificial club openings!

The bidding was opened 1C (alerted as 16+ points), the next player made a WJO of 2D but the partner of the 1C opener didn’t realize it and made an insufficient call of 1H (which shows 5 spades and 9+ points). Bear in mind the two heart call that remained on the table meant something else and by now we all
knew he had 5S and 9+ points as explained by the opener — but the cat was already out of the bag.

When the director was called, he was not sure of what to do so he consulted his rule book and admitted he was still uncertain. We were told to resume the auction and call him back for a ruling. My husband (the weak jump overcaller) knew the ruling (but he thought it best not to intervene so he remained silent). The insufficient bidder left the 2H card on the table (which obviously conveyed unauthorized information) but nevertheless the undaunted, brazen opener jumped to 6NT holding Q9XX AQxx AK AKX. The contract made 6 but they were given an average minus and us an average plus.

How can a player be allowed to take advantage of unauthorized information. I knew something was awry but entered the score anyway.

The disgruntled declarer left the table mumbling “What some people won’t do for masterpoints.” Sounds like ZERO TOLERANCE
to me and unethical behavior to boot.

The right ruling as I understand it: The 1H bidder can put the card back in his bidding box and make any bid he or she chooses. BUT –HIS PARTNER IS BARRED FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE AUCTION (unless the opposition makes a further call).


Robert E. HarrisFebruary 12th, 2013 at 7:11 am

It depends what partner’s idea of a 2C opening bid is. My view is 22 or more HCP in a balanced hand or 9+ playing tricks in a major or 10+ in a minor. So we don’t need a lot to make 3NT if pard has the 22 HCP balanced with some sort of a stopper. Double is the first negative or penalty suggestion over interference. I’d bid with any of the hands with 5 hearts, probably with any of the hands with 5 diamonds, also. Anything with 1+ quick trick and 6 or 7 HCP mostly would do,. bUt not with a pard who thinks all 20 HCP hands must be opened 2C.
With a flat 6HCP I’d just [pass and let pard reveal a bit about his hand. But then I’m not a very good player and I have a lot of weak partners.

John WoodFebruary 21st, 2013 at 9:01 pm

JKW – was there an appeal procedure in place, as presumably the contract should be corrected (to whatever the director thinks the responder would have bid (or players polled) – now that will take some guessing, especially if weighted averages have to be made). You don’t say what the 2H bid means in the sequence 1C: 2D: 2H – only that it doesn’t show spades!

The least that the 2H responder should have done would have been to raise the 6NT response to 7NT (or even 8NT!) given the bidding, which would no doubt have been worth more than A+/A-. (Which I would have done had the bidding been allowed – if only to tell my partner off – had 7N made then that would have been lucky). Partner must have something like:


(which has been held and discussed in bridge books) or extra hearts in place of the Queens – but must be a 1 loser hand (2 maximum)

All in all unethical behaviour by BOTH players.

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