2NT in Competition

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Playing with a new partner the other night I bid 2NT in competition in this auction:

RHO   me  LHO  partner
1!C  Pass  1!S    Double
2!S   2NT   Pass

If you were my partner what would you think that meant?

My general rule is that 2NT in competition is not natural except in a very few cases listed in detail at the end of this article.

When everyone is bidding, the times I need to invite a game in NT are much rarer than the need to compete without being sure of the right suit to compete in.  When I passed over 1!C I could certainly have had a balanced 11 or 12, so it is possible that 2NT is inviting 3NT but with both opponents bidding it is unlikely that our combined hands would ever have the values for 3NT. True the double of 1!S tends to show hearts and diamonds but it could also be three-suited so clubs could easily be our best spot. All in all I think that 2NT should ask for partner’s better minor just as it does in standard after 2!S Double.

Add this to the mix: we had agreed to play scrambling Lebensohl after a weak 2-bid was doubled by us or after 1!S Double 2!S – does it apply here? Scrambling Lebensohl is where 2N asks partner to bid their better minor but if you then bid again,  3!H or 3!D in the sample auction, that is to play. So the immediate bid of 3!D or 3!H can show values in context since you now have two ways to bid those suits; the weak way going through 2NT. As frequently occurs in bridge, the club suit gets left out.

Yes I think scrambling Lebensohl should apply here. Generally 2NT is only natural when we need an invitation in notrump more than we need extra ways to compete and get to our best partscore.

Here are Steve and my specific rules for when 2NT is natural, as written by Steve for our notes:

2N is only natural in competition in the following cases; in all other cases it asks partner to bid a suit (usually a minor):

  • When bid by opener:
    • Opposite a passed partner–e.g., 1X-(1Y)-Pass-(2Y)-2N–where it shows a 2N rebid.
    • When opener could not make a penalty double and later bids 2N, even if it’s not a jump. For example (from the Blue Ribbon Pairs), 1!D-1!H-(1!S )-Pass-(Pass)-2!H-(Pass)-2N (Double would have been a Support Double and Kitty had a penalty double of 1!S ).
  • When bid by responder:
    • In balancing seat when he did not pass. For example:
      • 1!C-(1!S )-Double-(2!D)-Pass-(Pass)-2N: Four Hearts, Spade and Diamond stoppers, and invitational values.
      • 1!C-(1!S )-2!H-(2!S )-Pass-(Pass)-2N: Spade stopper and invitational values.
      • In balancing seat when responder did pass, 2N is for the minors–e.g., 1!H-(1!S )-Pass-(2!S )-Pass-(Pass)-2N.
    • In direct seat–e.g., 1!S -(2!H)-2N, which shows a Heart stopper and invitational values.
  • When bid by advancer after partner’s suit overcall, where it shows a game try in No Trump.
    • If intervenor bid at the one level advancer should have 12-13 HCP.
    • If intervenor bid at the two level advancer should have about nine HCP with a fit or 10-12.
    • If advancer made a takeout double and the enemy responder raised to the two level 2N is Scrambling Lebensohl, page VIII-6, below. But if the enemy bid two suits with partner’s takeout double in between 2N is natural.
  • When bid by intervenor after doubling at the one or two level.

For those not used to the terms intervenor and advancer, intervenor is the one who doubles or overcalls when the opponent opened and advancer is his partner.

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