2C & 2NT Openings, Wicked Weak/Strong Openings




First straight-forward methods are presented for 2NT and 2C openers.  Then using 2NT and 2C as a weak or strong bid is presented.  The latter is wicked, so often will not be allowed except for special events.


M=major, OM=other major, m=minor, om=other minor, X=any suit.


2NT Opening and Structure


2NT:       20-21 balanced.


[2NT Responses]

3C:          Puppet Stayman, responses: suit.

3D:          shows one or both M, now:

3M:         shows 4 cards in OM,

3NT:       to play,

4C:          slam try with both majors,

4D:          both majors, no slam try values.

3M:         shows five card suit.

3NT:       denies 4cM.


Puppet Stayman replies still on over a double of 3C, with redouble showing Cs, and pass denying a four card major.


3D,3H:    major suit transfers, new suit rebids by responder natural. 

                Major suit rebid (e.g. 2NT-3D-3H-4H) mild slam try.

3NT by opener over transfer shows hand with a fit better to play in notrump than in major.

Super accepts in suit showing values, with 4M showing values in transfer suit.  If opener super accepts in a new suit or bids 3NT, responder can retransfer by rebidding transfer suit.                                     


After 2NT bid and major suit transfers, if opener does not complete transfer due to super accept (with or without interference), the retransfer is always on as the cheapest bid in the suit the transfer bid is made in.


Examples: 2NT-3D-4H shows D values.  2NT-3H-4C -4H is the retransfer.


3S:           Minor or minors slam try.  Opener bids above 3NT with interest in both minors.  Over 3NT, responder bids 4m to show single suited slam try, 4M to show shortness and slam try with both minors, and 4NT to show quantitative slam try with both minors (likely 2-2-4-5 or 2-2-5-4).

4C:          Gerber.

4D,4H:    Texas.

4S:           Both minors, weak hand.


See 4NT Quantitative section on rules and replies in Slam Conventions section.


2NT In Competition


Negative doubles @ 3 level by responder, all other doubles are for penalty.  New suits forcing below game.  System on over double or 3C interference.  Texas still on if jump.

Two Club Opening


2C:  Strong, 22 + bal, or GF suit bid.


[2C Responses]

2D:          waiting.  Opener rebids:

                2H:          Kokish relay (hearts or bal.) forces 2S, then 2NT: 24+, other bids show hearts.

                2S:           GF Ss, natural bidding, jump to 4S weak.

2NT:       22-23. 2NT structure on over 2NT rebids by opener (i.e. also 2C-2D-2H-2S-2NT).

3m:          GF, 5+ in m.

3M:         long solid major suit, sets trumps, invites cuebidding.

3NT:       long minor, stoppers (natural bidding over this).

4m:          singleton or void in m, good GF, 5-4-4-0 or 4-4-4-1 with 4 or 5 in om.

4M:         very long, broken major suit, 9 tricks.

2H:          super negative, 2S and 2NT NF by opener, but 3X still forcing.  2NT structure on over opener’s 2NT rebid.

2S:           good heart suit

2NT:       good spade suit.

3m:          good suit in the other minor.

3M:         very good six or seven card suit in OM.


In competition


Doubles by either player are takeout.  Direct redoubles strongly suggest playing there, balancing redoubles are for takeout but are passable.


2C-Double(Cs)-Pass-Pass-Redouble(takeout but responder can pass with C holding like Jxxx).


All other bidding is natural.


Weak/Strong Two Club and 2NT Openings


In all seats except fourth seat, and not vulnerable only, the 2C or 2NT opening either have their normal, very strong, meanings or can be weak with a long suit.  The 2C opening can be weak with long Ds or Ss, while the 2NT opening can be weak with long Hs or Cs.  When weak the hand must be not appropriate for a normal preempt and it also denies a void or an ace.  A good description of the hand would be a “bad suit, bad hand” bid.


[Why use this method?]

It obstructs opponents bidding, sometimes to a large degree.  It doesn't cost much.  It doesn’t change methods much.  Down lots not doubled not vulnerable is relatively cheap.


[2C Changes]

Responses to 2C remain essentially the same, with 2D waiting as before, except that the positive bids can contain another hand type (see below).  In addition there are now four level responses available.  Use 2D waiting instead of a higher response if your hand type would be very dangerous if opener had a weak hand.


[Flip Flop Rebids by opener after positive response to 2C]

After a positive response to 2C, opener uses flip flop suit bids in two suits: in the minors if responder showed a major and in the majors if responder showed a minor.  Thus 2C-2S-3C shows diamonds and 2C-3C-3H shows spades.  The transfer bids that show Ds or Ss can be either weak or strong; however the bids that show Cs or Hs are always game forcing.  Thus 2C-2NT-3D is a GF with Cs.


[Signoff Strategy after Response to 2C]

Opener will pass if possible when holding a weak preempt.  After 2C-2H(weak hand), if opener is also weak then just pass.  After 2C-2D, opener passes if weak and Ds.  With weak and Ss, opener bids 2H (Kokish relay, usually strong Hs or balanced 24+ HCP), then passes the 2S response.

When responder bids a positive response showing the suit opener is weak in, then a jump bid in that suit shows the weak hand.  Thus 2C-2NT(Ss)-4S shows a weak hand with Ss.  After a positive response, opener with a weak preempt will always be able to either pass the suit bid, jump support partner, or transfer to the weak suit using the flip flop rebids; e.g. 2C-2S(Hs)-3C(transfer to Ds)-3D.


[3NT Response to 2C Opening]

The 3NT rebid is normally to play opposite the weak hand type.  All new suit bids are transfers in response to 3NT, and these may be either with a weak hand and a very long suit or a very strong hand.  5C over 3NT asks for aces, while 4NT after a transfer is RKCB for the suit transfer to.


[2C Opening - Positive hand type other response]

A positive response shows either normal positive response, or a hand that may not have the suit promised if holding the values for at least slam (a good 10 HCP or better with at least one ace) and attempting to place or help place the contract if opener is weak.  Holding the latter hand type, after opener definitely shows a strong hand, responder must either bid 4NT RKCB for opener’s suit, or when not holding a great fit for opener, bid on the five level as if replying to 4NT RKCB for opener’s suit.  All other bids show the normal positive response hand type.   Examples:

                2C-3D(Cs or nice+)-3S(big Hs)-5D(10/11+ HCP, not good fit for Hs, 3 keycards).

                2C-3S(Hs or nice+)-4C(transfer)-4D-4H(big)-5C (10/11+, not good fit for Ds, 1 or 4 keycards).

                2C-4D-5C(Cs)-5D (10/11+, 1 or 4 key cards for Cs; there is no room here to show or deny fit).



A response of 4D or 4S asks opener to pass when weak with the suit or use the same type of reply structure as to 3D or 3S.  Thus 2C-4D-4H shows Ss, either weak or strong.  A response of 4C or 4H is to play if opener is weak; opener only bids again if strong and the auction is forcing to slam.  If opener shows a strong hand type in response to the four level bids, see use of RKCB replies in the above section.

[Changes to 2NT Opening responses]

The 2NT structure remains basically the same but a few modifications allow for opener to get out.


[Get out sequences after 2NT]

These sequences allow opener to show or pass with a weak hand and Hs:

2NT-Pass (opponents must be cold for a slam)              2NT-3C-3D-3H(asks if 4Ss)

2NT-3C-3D-4H(asks if 4Ss)                                                2NT-3C-3D-4D(both majors, no slam interest)-4H

2NT-3C-3D-4C(both majors, slam interest)-4H                2NT-3D-4H

2NT-3H                                                                                  2NT-3S-4H

2NT-3NT-4H                                                                         2NT-4C-4D-4H

2NT-4D-5H                                                                            2NT-4H

These sequences allow opener to show or pass with a weak hand and Cs:

2NT-Pass                                                                               2NT-3C

2NT-3D-3H-4C                                                                      2NT-3H-3S-4C

2NT-3S-5C                                                                             2NT-3NT-4C

2NT-4C                                                                                  2NT-4D-5C

2NT-4H-5C                                                                            2NT-5C 


[After Puppet Stayman]

After 2NT-3C, opener passes if weak with long Cs and bids 3D if weak with long Hs.  Now 3H over 3D asks if opener has 4Ss but does not promises 4Ss.  Opener is to pass the 3H asking bid with long Hs & weak hand.  Otherwise opener rebids 3S with Ss, and 3NT without Ss.  Over 3S, 3NT is natural without Ss, new suits are cuebids for Ss.  Over 3NT, new suits are natural.  After 2NT-3C-3D, responder can also bid 4H to ask if 4Ss but opener can pass if long Hs.  Rebids like over 2NT-3C-3D-3H but one level higher.


[After 2NT-3D or 2NT-4D]

After a transfer to Hs, opener jumps in Hs with a weak hand, long Hs.


[After 2NT-transfer to Ss]

Opener is to pass with long Hs.  Alert the bids since, for example, with 18 HCP & doubleton H one might bid 4H even without any Ss.


[After 2NT-3S or 2NT-3NT]

Over 2NT-3S (minor or minors) or 2NT-3NT (to play) opener is to bid 4H with weak hand, long Hs and 5C with long Cs, weak hand.  If responder only wants to play in 3Cs or 3Hs opposite the weak hand, responder should respond 3C to 2NT.


[After 2NT-4C]

After Gerber, opener replies 4D with the weak hand & Hs, since no aces.  Now 4H by responder is artificial, asks opener to pass if weak hand with long Hs, and otherwise bid naturally.


[General - Weak/strong 2C or 2NT in competition]

When opponents compete over 2C or 2NT, responder will usually know whether opener is very weak or very strong by the HCP held.  Generally responder should plan on giving opener a chance to pass a bid if the weak hand is suspected.  Opener if weak plans on passing whenever possible.


[2C or 2NT weak/strong in competition]

-          Double by either player is passable takeout, with double by opener always showing the big hand type.  A double by a 2NT opener is often passed.

-          If responder makes a takeout double, opener can bid a possible weak suit either if weak or strong; responder will be able to tell by strength held and further competition what strength opener has.  Opponents are unlikely to leave one in a 10+ fit if they have their own fit and the majority of HCPs.  

-          In competition, if responder is strong and wants to find out for sure what opener’s suit is the best action is a double.

-          Redouble by opener always shows strong hand type.

-          Redouble in balance seat by either player is passable takeout.

-          A redouble of a takeout double shows values and some length in the suit doubled so partner can pass.

-          A direct redouble by responder of a suit showing double suggests playing the contract. 

-          A direct redouble by opener of any double just shows values and some length in the suit doubled so partner can pass.  If the suit doubled is one of the weak possible suits then opener can pass to show a weak hand and long suit; however opener can also pass if strong if definitely wants to play the contract.  Thus 2NT-Pass-3C-Double(Cs)-Pass is either weak with Cs or wants to play 3C doubled.

-          New suits by responder in competition show a little something, establish a GF if opener is strong, to be passed if opener is weak and suit is not doubled. 

-          If a suit bid (either natural or artificial) by responder is doubled, then if the suit is one that opener can have with a weak hand (e.g. Ss or Ds after 2C opener), opener passes if weak and holding that suit and corrects if holding other suit. If the suit bid and doubled is not one of the suits opener can have, then opener passes with weak hand holding either weak suit; once opener shows the weak hand here responder can bid one of opener’s weak suit possibilities as pass or correct.   Aside from these sequences all other bids show a strong hand type; opener should redouble when possible to show strength.  If responder has bid a possible weak suit of opener’s, and it was doubled, opener corrects when weak in the other possible suit; when strong to show the same suit opener must cuebid or redouble.

-          When responder has values to make 6NT or 7NT playable if opener is strong, responder may bid new suits without much length in the suit.  If opener turns out to be strong, responder can bid the notrump slam, and if responder is weak the opponents are totally confused.  Thus new suit bids by responder must be alerted and explained for this possibility.

-          If a notrump bid is doubled, opener if weak runs out to long suit.  Direct redouble shows strength.

-          If fourth hand (bidding after responder) makes a suit bid or bids notrump, opener always passes with a weak hand, even with a fit for a suit responder has bid or shown.


[2C Special Cases]

-          If 2H is available to be bid by opener it is still Kokish relay to 2S (see non-competitive bidding).

-          2D is natural by responder if 2C is doubled.

-          A bid of 2D by opener shows a weak hand with Ds.


[2NT Special Case]

After 2NT-Pass-3C-Double system is still on so responses are still the same, including that 3D still can be weak hand with Hs.  3H directly over 3C shows 5Hs, strong hand.

Further Examples and Discussion of Weak/Strong Bids



The weak/strong 2C and 2NT openings (and also the comic notrump) are all of the same family of bidding conventions.  Either a quite strong or weak hand is held so that partner will usually be able to read what is going on.  If the hand is weak, it will almost always be better to play in the long suit of the weak hand as opposed to any suit partner has.  This is because the weak hand denies a void or a top heavy suit; thus the suit is not a good source of tricks unless it is trump.  In addition when weak partner will have little play for notrump unless holding at least two of the top three honors in the long suit and stoppers in all other suits; in that case partner will be able to determine what the best spot is from the bidding.  The weak/strong bidding conventions work because when weak they leave the opponents confused while partner is in control. 


[Two hand examples]

Examples of weak/strong openings and bidding, opponents only passing

a)                   S JT9742  H 873  D 8 C 832  S A53  H KQT  D QJ762 C 92

2C-3S-Pass.  Responder bids 3S since it seems opener likely to be weak.

b)                   S Q87432  H 3  D 87 C T932                S K H KJ2 D AQ652 C K865

2C-2S-Pass  Responder bids 2S (normally Hs) as is pretty sure opener is weak.

c)                   S 32  H 3  D JT9853 C QT32                S AQT75 H Q65 D 2 C 965

2C-2NT-3C-3D-Pass.  Responder bids 2NT, normal positive response in Ss since not clear who is strong or weak.  With weak Ss responder can bid 2D and then opener can pass.

d)                   S 2 H JT75432  D 875 C 32   S KQ8 H 3 D T965 C KQT4

2NT-3C-3D-3H(asks)-Pass.  Responder uses Puppet since opener could have weak hand type.

e)                   S Q H JT75432  D 875 C 32  S KJT82 H 86 D T96 C QJT4


f)                    S T32  H 3  D KT9832 C 732                S K84 H Q982 D -- C AQT965

2C-2D-Pass.          Don’t respond 3D(Cs) since partner may have Ds.

g)                   S 32  H 3  D T32 C Q976532                S K84 H Q98 D A984 C AT9

2NT-4C-Pass.        Ask for aces, but find out partner is weak!


[Examples of Auctions]

2C-Pass-2D-Double-2H:                                      Kokish, asks responder to bid 2S.

2C-Pass-2D-Double-Pass-Pass-Redouble:      Pass showed weak hand, long Ds, redouble is takeout.

2C-Pass-2D-Double-Redouble:                          Strong hand, if double=Ds lets play here, if double=takeout then redouble shows values and at least a few Ds.

2C-Pass-2S-Double-Pass:                                   Weak with Ss.

2C-Double-Pass-Pass-2D:                                  Weak with Ds.  2H here would be Kokish.

2C-Double-Redouble-Pass-2H:                          2H is Kokish.

2C-3S-Double-Pass-Pass:                                   Double passable takeout, opener strong or weak with Ss.

2C-3H-Pass-Pass-Pass:                                       The weak hand.

2C-Pass-2H-4S-Pass:                                           The weak hand.

2C-2S-3H-Pass-Pass:                                           3H was positive with Hs, pass shows weak hand.

2NT-Double-Pass-Pass-3H:                               Weak hand with Hs.

2NT-Pass-3C-Double-Pass:                                Weak hand with Cs.

2NT-3H-3S-Pass-Pass:                                        Weak hand with Cs or Hs.

2NT-3C-3D-Double-Pass-Pass-3H:                   Pass or correct, opener’s pass over double showed a weak hand.