I get thousands of bridge questions a year. I can't find the time to answer them all. In this article, I will attempt to answer all of them at once (perhaps you were referred to this article by asking such a question).
I don't love new bridge terms, but I'd like to start to throw around "PA" -- to mean "Partnership Agreement."
Many areas of bridge have no "standard." It is just a matter of how you and your partner agree to play. Here are some examples:
Without discussion, there is no way to know if East's 2 is weak or strong.
Without discussion, there is no way to know if West's 2 is Natural or a Michaels bid.
Without discussion, there is no way to know if East's 3 is meant as weak, invitational, or forcing.
Without discussion, there is no way to know if West's 3 is shortness, a control, or a second suit.
* Jacoby 2NT
Without discussion, there is no way to know if East's 3 is invitational, weak or mixed.
Without discussion, there is no way to know if West's 2 guarantees extra values or if it can be bid with a dead minimum.
I could list dozens more.
Here is the point: There are many "non-standard" areas in bridge. Unless you and your partner make an agreement, there is simply no way to know if Player A is thinking one way and Player B is thinking the other.
Regarding "which way is better," that would be like asking a politician his thoughts on whether or not to raise taxes. There are hundreds of conventions and treatments around. They all have their adherents and they all have pros and cons. For example, I prefer 2 waiting after a strong 2 opener (I think it best to give opener room to describe). Others like 2 as a bust and still other like step/control responses (my least favorite). Rather than debate it, I just advise players to stick with what is comfortable to their partnership.
What about defensive carding? I teach "Standard." I get asked "What about odd-even?" Or, "my teacher said that upside-down attitude is best." My answer-- the same: "PA." Choose whatever you and your partner are comfortable with.
On another front, many questions (of a similar vein) have "no right answer" (click the link).
If you have a serious partnership and wish to delve further, here is a partnership checklist.
My general advice is to try to avoid making "undiscussed" bids. If you can find some other bid (one that won't be misunderstood), choose that instead. For more, click here.
Updated: September 2020