BridgeCast on RealBridge - Weak Twos


My BridgeCast has four daily instructional channels, Beginner, Improver, Intermediate & Advanced. Each day, subscribers will receive an online video in which I talk about an interesting Bridge hand. It's something we hope you may enjoy with a cup of coffee in the morning.

Weak Two

I hope you enjoyed playing four of my deals featuring Weak Two. I have run through deal three in the video above and all of the deals are analysed in the notes below. These deals were taken from my "Weak Two" book, part of my Bridge Lesson series of books.

Deal one

There will be occasions where responder will not know the final contract when he has a good hand facing a Weak Two opener. Say partner opens 2 . The partnership may belong in 4 , a part score in spades, or even 3 NT.

Question: How can responder learn more about the Weak Two bidder’s hand?
Answer: He bids 2 NT - a conventional, strong enquiry. There are two basic reply mechanisms to the 2 NT asking bid. I recommend (and teach) the second.

(1) Blue Club or Ogust. Whether a 2 , 2  or 2  opener, the replies to 2 NT are:

3 : Poor hand, poor suit.
3 : Poor hand, good suit.
3 : Good hand, poor suit.
3 : Good hand, good suit.
This unnatural method involves memory-work, and gives no specific information.

(2) Features. Say you opened 2 :
3 : Club feature*, upper range Weak Two.
3 : Diamond feature*, upper range.
3 : Lower range (Trump suit).
3 : Four-card suit (we may belong in 4 ) in an upper range hand.
3 NT: Two of the top three honours in the suit and an upper range hand.
*A feature is typically a high-card with some length e.g. Qxx, Kxx,
Ax etc.

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
6 3
K J 10 6 5 2
K J 2
6 5
A 9 5 4
Q 8 4 3
9 7
Q J 9
K Q 10 8
10 8 6 3
K 10 8 4 3
J 7 2
A 9 7
A Q 5 4
A 7 2
2 1Pass2 N2
Pass3 3Pass4 4
All pass
  1. Weak Two - 5-10 pts and a good six-card suit.
  2. Strong asking bid.
  3. Diamond feature in an upper range hand.
  4.  AQxx looks better, facing the likely  K.
4  by North

Our featured deal sees North able to show his diamond feature in a maximum hand (usually 8-10 points). East leads the king of spades against the resulting 4  game, and the defence continue with two more rounds.

After ruffing the third spade, declarer crosses to the ace of trumps and sees East discard. He now has a marked finesse against West’s queen, leading and passing dummy’s nine of trumps, following with a third trump to the ten, and then cashing the king, felling his queen. Four diamonds are cashed, a club being thrown from hand on the fourth round, and 11 tricks claimed. Game made - with an overtrick.

Deal two

Responder’s first question to ask facing partner’s Weak Two opener (2 , 2  or 2  - showing 5-10 points and a good six-card suit) is:“Am I interested in game?”

NO (generally up to 14 points): Pass or bid to the “level of the fit” (i.e. raise to the trick level that equals the total number of trumps held by the partnership: thus raise to Three with three trumps, to Four with four trumps etc).

YES (generally 15+ points): The beauty of the Weak Two is that responder, knowing so much about opener’s hand, can usually place the final contract - typically raising to game in partner’s suit.

On our featured deal, North knew enough to jump straight to 4  over his partner’s Weak 2 .

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
6 5
8 6 3
K J 8 7
J 10 9 4
A J 5 2
6 2
A K 5 3 2
A Q 9 4 3 2
7 4
9 4 3
7 6
10 8 7
K Q 10 9
A Q 10 5
Q 8
2 1Pass
4 2All pass
  1. Weak Two - 5-10 pts and a good six-card suit.
  2. May not quite have game points, but look at the good doubleton spade, three quick tricksoutside, and potential ruffing value in diamonds.
4  by East

South led the king of hearts and declarer had the challenge of trying to make a tenth trick - nine were easy via six trumps, the ace of hearts and the ace-king of clubs.

Declarer won Trick One with dummy’s ace of hearts, and planned to ruff his third diamond in dummy. With this in mind, he conceded a diamond at Trick Two. The defence won and predictably returned a trump. Winning in dummy, declarer led a second diamond. As you may have guessed, the defence won and led a second trump. With both dummy’s trumps removed, declarer had no tenth trick. He elected to overtake dummy’s second trump with his ace, draw the third trump, and then lead a heart. But South won the queen and cashed a diamond. Down one.

Have you spotted the winning line? You must duck South’s king of hearts lead (key play). The lead marks South with the queen of the suit, and you are now poised to win (say) a trump switch in dummy, cash dummy’s other trump, play ace-king and ruff a third club (high), draw the last trump, then finesse the jack of hearts (the tenth trick) and cash the ace of hearts discarding a diamond. Just two diamonds are lost. 10 tricks and game made.

Deal three

There are twin goals when responding to a Weak Two opener (5-10 points and a good six- card suit - a mini preempt).

1. To continue the preemption.
2. To reach game where possible.

Consider the auction 2  - Pass - 4 . Responder’s 4  bid could be preemptive - typically with four-card heart support (bidding to the “level of the fit” - calling for ten tricks with a ten-card fit). But it could also be bidding to make. The opposition have no way of knowing.

Our featured deal sees North’s 4  bid silence the opposition - unsure whether North has a weak hand with four or so hearts (where bidding or doubling would work well); or a strong hand without a great fit (where competing would be equivalent to walking into a lion’s den).

Worse was to follow for East-West. Talked out of their 5  game, they watched North-South actually made 4 , despite only holding 15 combined points.

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
9 6 4 3 2
K Q 8 4
K 8 3
Q J 7
K 10 9 5 2
A J 7 2
A K 10 8
9 3
A Q J 4
10 9 5
A J 10 7 5 2
7 6 3
Q 6 4
2 1
Pass4 2All pass
  1. Weak Two - 5-10 pts and a good six-card suit.
  2. Is this preemptive or bidding to make? The opponents cannot know.
4  by South

West led the queen of spades, holding the trick, and switched to his singleton trump - to cut down ruffs.

Declarer won the trump in dummy and ruffed a spade. He crossed to a second trump and ruffed a third spade. He then conceded a diamond. East won and switched to the ten of clubs, which was ducked round to dummy’s king. Declarer ruffed a fourth spade, ruffed a second diamond, then cashed dummy’s established fifth spade, discarding a losing club. He conceded a club and crossruffed the last two tricks. 10 tricks and game made.

Even setting the opponents by one trick in 4  would have been a lousy result for East-West. But it would certainly be preferable to them making. To defeat the game, East needed to overtake West’s opening spade lead and return the ten of clubs, the card riding to dummy’s king (West withholding the ace). East then wins the first round of diamonds, and a second club from his side (through the queen) ensures two further tricks in the suit. Down one.

Deal four

We round off our series on the Weak Two opener with a consideration of some frequently asked questions.

“Can I have a seven-card suit (as opposed to six) and
open a Weak Two?”

Yes. If the suit (and/or overall hand) looks too emaciated to open at the Three-level (particularly when vulnerable or with the barren 7222 shape), a Weak Two opener with a seven-card suit is perfectly admissible. When holding the more normal six-card suit, two or more honours should be held in the suit; but a seventh card compensates for the lack of a second honour - take South.

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
A 8 3 2
8 6 5
Q J 10 5 4
Q 9 7 5 4 3 2
J 9 6
Q 10
K 6
K Q 7
A K J 9 3
K 8 3
A J 8
10 5 4
7 4 2
A 9 6 2
2 1Pass4 2All pass
  1. Suit (and hand) too weak for a 3  opener.
  2. No need to ask via 2 NT - 4  must have decent play.
4  by West

Declaring 4  on the queen of clubs opening lead, West covered with dummy’s king, and saw South win the ace and lead back a second club. He ruffed and led a low trump towards dummy, beating North’s ten with dummy’s king, but seeing that card lose to South’s ace.

At Trick Four South switched to a heart. North won the ace, and led a second heart to the queen. Dummy’s remaining trump was led, South following with the eight, and it was crunch time. Did North begin with a singleton ten of trumps (in which case declarer needed to finesse the nine)? Or did North begin with jack-ten doubleton (in which case he needed to rise with his queen)?

The Principle of Restricted Choice (PRC) states that when one opponent has turned up with a relevant card in a suit, his partner is almost twice as likely to have the adjacent card in that same suit. The odds favoured finessing the nine - and that is precisely what declarer did - to good effect. North discarded, and South’s jack fell under declarer’s queen of trumps. Declarer could claim the remainder in top tricks - game made.

Lest you are curious as to why PRC works, appreciate that West would have had a choice of playing the jack or the ten if he held jack-ten doubleton. The fact that he played the ten affords the presumption that he had no choice in the matter.