A little while ago I hinted at this topic; it’s divided into two parts because that will make two short pieces rather than one long unwieldy one. So part 2 will contain thoughts about actually assessing your suit, HCP and distribution to decide if it’s suitable to open a weak 2. This is sort of an introduction.
I believe in my post on Ogust, I mentioned that I was specifically referring to an opening bid of 2 in a major. So, here’s rule number 1:
1. Don’t open a weak 2 in clubs or diamonds.
Clubs, of course, because an opening bid of 2 clubs to most partnerships is their strongest opening bid. Why diamonds? Well, it’s not actually WRONG to open 2D. But consider, for a moment, that you’re at the table when one of the opponents opens 2D. Do you think it would be relatively easy to find a way to end up in a low-level contract of 2 of a major, if you have a fit? I do too: double and then pass partner’s response. It would also be easy to end up in either 3NT or 4 of a major after opponents open 2D. 2D is just a little bit too low-level to make life difficult for the opponents. Added to which, if it’s the right suit and level for your side to be playing — the opponents will never let you play there. It’s too easy to work out a way to lose, say, 50 or 100 in 2 of a major or even 2NT, rather than let the opponents have an easy ride when they get to play 2D making 90 or 110.
So I recommend to people that they stop opening 2D weak and instead use that bid for something more unusual; many European-based bidding systems have used it for rare situations where a specialized bid is useful, and then there’s always Flannery. (I can see a post on the topic of an opening 2D coming up.)
2. Don’t open a weak 2 if you have four cards in the other major.
This is based on something that I read somewhere (Acol?), but honestly, in my experience, you would not believe just how often in my experience opening a weak 2 in spades and ending up in a 6-1 fit prevents the partnership from finding a perfectly makable contract in their 4-4 heart fit. It’s maddening. I’m not sure what the number of these statistically is, it just seems to me to happen so darn often that I want to rule it out. And it helps simplify further bidding if partner does not have to go through a difficult rigamarole to ensure that you don’t have an outside four-card major, if she’s already guaranteed that you don’t.
3. Don’t open a weak 2 if you have two aces.
I can almost see you scratching your head on this one. Why on earth …? But here’s the thinking. One of the things that a weak 2 is meant to do is pave the way for a profitable sacrifice against the opponents. Let’s imagine that, whether or not you open a weak 2 in hearts, the opponents are going to reach 4S. If you are the partner of the person who did or didn’t open that weak 2, you know clearly how many trumps you would have between the two hands in a heart contract, and that is the well-known basis for whether or not you should be in 5H. A good heart fit suggests a sacrifice, since your 11-card heart fit will be useless in a spade contract, and you may go down 1 or 2 and still have a top board compared to all the pairs who tamely let the opponents make 4S.
The other situation is when you’re trying to figure out if a sacrifice against the opponent’s slam would be profitable. And here, it is really important to know if their slam will make or not. If you have two aces, chances are the slam will not make, and your best course is to double it rather than sacrifice. If you know for certain that your partner doesn’t have two aces, you can make a much more intelligent decision about sacrificing against a slam.
4. Don’t open a weak 2 if you are 6-5-1-1, with a six-card major and a five-card minor — or even more distributional.
This hand is stronger than the mere HCP might indicate. I think if you pass, you will be able to express this hand profitably later when you have more information about the hand. Believe me, someone else is going to find a bid. If you can find a way to open this hand at the 1 level in your six-card suit and then rebid the five-card suit twice, that’s good, but that lets out very weak holdings. If you can find a way to express the hand as a two-suiter, that’s best. With more unusual holdings, you’ll definitely find a way to come in later somehow.
Part 2 of this topic will discuss the mundane things to consider like suit texture, HCP, position, things like that. This gets some of my personal ground rules out of the way.