For the 1,000th time

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 03/27/2017
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

I have a new most-asked question. It used to be: "Should I open 1NT with a 5-card major."

Now, because I seem to have been asked 1,000 times, the new "hot topic" has become an issue with 2/1 GF and responding in a major or minor.

The basic question goes like this: "Larry, I have opening-bid strength with a 4-card major. Do I respond in the major, or with a 2/1 GF response?"

For example, what is the response to 1♠ holding:

♠ K765  
♥ A2  
♦ K3 
♣ AJ1062?

Either 1♠ or 2♠ would be technically acceptable. I strongly prefer 2♠. You won't lose a 4-4 spade fit. Your side still has plenty of time to reach spades. Meanwhile, the auction is more comfortable. I will explain this a few paragraphs later.

BUT -- Don't invent bids. Don't respond in a "non-suit." With, say,

♠ AQJ6  
♥ K87  
♦ K762 
♣ Q3,

respond 1♠ (you don't have enough clubs to bid 2♠).

With a 5-card major, respond in the major. So, 1♠ is your response to 1♠ with:

♠ AJ876  
♥ A6 
♦ K3 
♣ Q872.

(2♠ would be a jump-shift, and has nothing to do with 2/1 GF. 2♠ is a bid you shouldn't make unless you and your partnership know what it means--most play it as weak.)

Also, if you don't have enough points to force to game, you mustn't respond with a 2/1 GF bid! So, respond 1♠ to 1♠ with:

♠ K2  
♥ QJ76  
♦ 32  
♣ Q7654.

Here is why I like starting with a 2/1 GF response when possible. Say opener holds:

♠ A2  
♥ 54  
♦ QJ10986  
♣ KQ2.

Responder holds the hand mentioned earlier (♠ K765  ♥ A2  ♦ K3  ♣ AJ1062).

You would belong in 5♠ (or 5♠).  But, you'd  belong in 3NT opposite, say:

♠ Q9 
♥ QJ2  
♦ AQJ765  
♣ Q8.

Auctions go more smoothly if responder can start with a 2/1 GF. Look at two of the hands above and observe how the auctions begin:

♠ A2  
♥ 54  
♦ QJ10986  
♣ KQ2
♠ K765  
♥ A2  
♦ K3 
♣ AJ1062
1♠ 1♠ (not my recommendation)
2♠ 3♠ -- cramped auction
1♠ 2♠ (much better)
2♠ 2♠
3♠ 3♠




Notice how much more efficient the second auction is. Responder got to do "everything" without fear of being passed. In the first auction, where he responded 1♠, he never forced to game. His second bid gets the auction too high too fast.



Notes (advanced):

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