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Balancing 2NT in contested auctions

#1 User is offline   rr9000 

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Posted 2019-May-05, 10:48

I'm seeking opinions on how various expertish partnerships are treating balancing 2NT calls in contested auctions. A recent auction (playing five card majors with strong notrump, 15-17) was

1D - 1H - P - 1S
1N - P - P - 2H
P - P - 2N

What would 2NT show in this auction? If your agreements would vary with form of scoring, please specify that, too. Neither side vul, if it matters.

More generally, under what circumstances, if any, would you play a balancing 2NT as natural in a contested auction?

I have a vague recollection of a book that served as the starting point for much of my own thinking on this many years ago, but I can't remember what it was or find anything among my books. Does this ring a bell?

Thanks!

RR9000
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#2 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2019-May-05, 16:09

In general, 2NT is two places to play. There are a few situations where it is Lebensohl by agreement, and a few ones where it is natural.

Reverse scrambling, i.e. one place to play, is often better than normal scrambling, but it's not a standard treatment.

This particular one is probably natural, which is weird but would make some sense at w/w at matchpoints.

53 is possible but I think such a hand would have bid 2 at the previous round. OTOH, at matchpoints maybe you go for the +120 intead of +110.

The optimal agreement may be something like a 4-2-3-4 with 5 HCP, giving opener a choice between 2NT, 3 and 3.

Double would be penalty, by the way.
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#3 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2019-May-05, 23:48

Given that partner advertised a balanced 18-19 with M well stopped, it ought to be natural, 4-5 HCPs, not wanting to defend 2HX (either because it may make, or because payout could be lower).

Otherwise it is often a 2 places to play. And when it is the answer to a balancing TOX, one of those places could even be a minor suit bid by opps (played once in a 4-4 C fit at the 3-level after they had opened 1C).
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#4 User is offline   rr9000 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 06:54

View Postapollo1201, on 2019-May-05, 23:48, said:

Given that partner advertised a balanced 18-19 with M well stopped, it ought to be natural, 4-5 HCPs, not wanting to defend 2HX (either because it may make, or because payout could be lower).


At MP, there may be something to this, but at IMPs, this sounds to me like it has a good chance of trading a plus score for a minus score.

1) 23 points or so may often make 2NT when the points are ~ evenly divided, but dummy could be very short on entries.
2) If the hand will be useful as dummy in notrump (as opposed to being a good hand for suit play, see below), it should be useful on defense.
3) The opponents may not even have an 8 card fit on this auction.
4) If the opponents actually do have a fit, then we usually do, too, and it'll play better than notrump (for all the usual reasons, including entries to the weak hand), and it may behoove us to optimize methods for finding it.

Does this make sense? Counter-arguments?

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#5 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 10:04

View Postrr9000, on 2019-May-06, 06:54, said:


Does this make sense? Counter-arguments?

RR9000


Yeah at IMPs it is less obvious. Although it is quite likely opps have a fit here, while ours is yet to be found (and could be S btw). Depending on vulnerability too...

I just fear it is a bit dangerous to bid « undiscussed » some NT when partner bid them naturally, and it can really make sense that it is a natural call.

By the way, a bit different but some similarities, what is the std treatment for
1NT - - 2M
- - 2NT?

Again, both meanings can make sense...or we are green, we bid to defend, while they are green, we bid to make?
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#6 User is offline   rr9000 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 11:39

View Postapollo1201, on 2019-May-06, 10:04, said:

Yeah at IMPs it is less obvious. Although it is quite likely opps have a fit here, while ours is yet to be found (and could be S btw). Depending on vulnerability too...

I just fear it is a bit dangerous to bid « undiscussed » some NT when partner bid them naturally, and it can really make sense that it is a natural call.

By the way, a bit different but some similarities, what is the std treatment for
1NT - - 2M
- - 2NT?

Again, both meanings can make sense...or we are green, we bid to defend, while they are green, we bid to make?


For sure, this is not something I'd try to pull out of the hat without partnership agreement. I'm wondering about how people play it in regular partnerships. As I poke around on the web and some books, I'm finding some support for lots of artificial meanings of 2NT in contested auctions. One poster posited an interesting partnership rule that 2NT can only be natural if 3NT is still a possibility. This would allow unambiguous artificial 2NT in undiscussed auctions to be added to Lebensohl and the usual discussed situations.

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#7 User is offline   miamijd 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 12:15

Interesting auction. Without previous discussion, I would take 2NT as natural, probably a 5-count, maybe a really bad 6-count that decided not to invite game (that is especially possible if your partner has a tendency to open some goodish 19 counts with 2NT, a treatment I don't like but many do). It doesn't foreclose opener from bidding 3NT if he has something like:

QJx QJx AKQxxx A

This should do OK opposite

T9xx Kx xx QTxxx

The other possibility on this specific auction is that responder is showing a club suit and secondary diamond support. That's playable, too, but without prior discussion, I wouldn't take 2NT that way here.

Finally, someone asked:
What is the std treatment for
1NT - - 2M
- - 2NT?

Without prior discussion, I would take that as natural, a good 6 to a bad 8.

Cheers,
Mike
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#8 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 12:39

With my partnerships, this would be a minor suit takeout. Partner has announced a very good hand with good majors, theoretically, they should have a good defensive hand. The 2h bid, to me, doesn't necessarily look like a fit. With a fit, I like to let my partner know right away opposite an overcall instead of making a non-forcing 1s bid. So 2n should state that A) they probably have a heart fit and B) you don't want to defend 2h. If you had a hand that could take 8 tricks in nt, then defending 2h should be profitable as well.
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#9 User is offline   rr9000 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 15:14

View Postmiamijd, on 2019-May-06, 12:15, said:

Interesting auction. Without previous discussion, I would take 2NT as natural, probably a 5-count, maybe a really bad 6-count that decided not to invite game (that is especially possible if your partner has a tendency to open some goodish 19 counts with 2NT, a treatment I don't like but many do). It doesn't foreclose opener from bidding 3NT if he has something like:

QJx QJx AKQxxx Ax

This should do OK opposite

T9xx Kx xx QTxxx

The other possibility on this specific auction is that responder is showing a club suit and secondary diamond support. That's playable, too, but without prior discussion, I wouldn't take 2NT that way here.

Finally, someone asked:
What is the std treatment for
1NT - - 2M
- - 2NT?

Without prior discussion, I would take that as natural, a good 6 to a bad 8.

Cheers,
Mike


If you take away the 6th diamond so that your example hand has 13 cards, you'll probably still make 2NT, thanks in part to those tens, but 2H will be no treat for the opps.

I don't know what "standard" treatment for
1NT - - 2M
- - 2NT

It's an interesting question. I'm not inclined to want it to be natural. If I have heart cards, the lead is going to come through them, and if I don't, we may not even have hearts stopped. If I have a hand that will work in notrump (and I'm not thinking 15 opposite 6 will work too well if opener has a minimum), it'll likely also work well on defense. If the opps have found themselves with a good enough suit fit to make despite being outgunned, we should have a good suit fit somewhere, too. If I don't have agreement, I think I'm going to pass on hands that might want it be natural, unless I'm confident that X for penalties is the "standard" treatment. :)

N.b., if 2NT is natural and X is penalty, I have no way to take this out, except when I can take 2H out to 2S showing a 4-bagger.

In terms of partnership agreements, there are potential implications related to what X shows, and the choices open to me are different when the M is hearts vs spades. If X is penalty, I think I clearly need 2NT as some sort of takeout. If X is takeout, I would still tend to want 2NT as two places to play, particularly over a 2S call. (After 2H I have the option of X and pass as 3=2=4=4, with X and pull as something like 2=2=4=5.)

Question coming back at you and for everyone. What's X show on this auction?
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#10 User is offline   dsLawsd 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 22:01

Two potential stops in hearts with a hand just a bit light to try game.
But with 5 or 6 poorish clubs as a "safe out" seems about right on values.
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#11 User is offline   steve2005 

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Posted 2019-May-06, 22:13

At MP if you think 2N making shouldn't you be able to double 2 be for penalty?
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#12 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2019-May-07, 04:20

View Poststeve2005, on 2019-May-06, 22:13, said:

At MP if you think 2N making shouldn't you be able to double 2 be for penalty?

According to the LOTT, if they have 8 trumps and we play notrump, it is just barely possible that we make 2nt while 2 is one down. 120 is better than 100. And if 2NT is one down, 2 might well make.

Anyway, I agree with you.
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#13 User is offline   rr9000 

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Posted 2019-May-16, 17:33

After some reading some books' treatment of this (mostly Bergen and Cohen, with a little Lawrence) and some online sources (online threads, and a nice series by Marc Smith), pard and I have settled on the following rule:

*Non-jump* 2NT bids in competition are *always* artificial, with the following exceptions:

• After 1D (2C), 2NT natural and invitational (cue bid available to show good raise)
• After 1red (P) 1 of suit (2C); P (P), 2NT natural and invitational (takeout X, 2 level and 3 level all available).
• After 1m (2m = Michaels), 2NT natural and invitational (cue bids available to show good raise and good hand in other minor) but 2NT here strongly implies decent fit for opener's minor. With a balanced non-fitting hand, we’d double to suggest penalizing.

Thanks to all for the interesting comments.

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#14 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2019-May-17, 19:52


rr900 asks what East's 2NT call should mean.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
IMO, natural e.g. A x x J x J x x x T x x x x

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