Strong Twos



  • I am intrigued by the assumption that I should know.. or care.. what the EBU doesn't like.
    To me forcing to Game means forcing to Game, nothing else.
    But then strong, to me, just means strong.
    it's all very strange.


  • @Alan16248 said:

    I don't know why the EBU don't like the standard, very >common usage of Forcing to Game without specific points or >controls.

    When you play bridge you have an absolute right to know your opponents' agreements. What you call Standard is nothing like standard because different people have different ideas. People have been known to open an Acol 2C with



    and say that since had nine playing tricks that is good enough. Of course it is bad Bridge but that is not the point. They do not tell their opponents that this what they do and their opponents fail to realise that they do not need top card strength.

    If you are going to play this game fairly you must not hide your agreements from opponents.

    Furthermore you cannot just play whatever you like but you must follow EBU rules as to what you play. Opening 2C on that hand by agreement means you are playing an illegal method.

    Of course a lot of club players do not follow the rules. But that is ignorance. Once you know what the rules are, not following them is far more serious. Over the last few years a large number of club players have started playing illegal methods because of a change in approach, and quite possibly poor teaching. Opening artificial two openings on pre-emptive hands and calling them strong is a major problem and needs to be controlled to stop such players gaining an unfair advantage.

  • I can't comment on the large number of players you speak about. I play about four times a week and a 2C opening is still VERY rare.
    I also find your example an even rarer occurrence. I would not open 2C on this hand and would not expect most players to do so.. but I don't see any problem in considering this strong enough to merit a game forcing bid. I use the word Strong here to mean strong, not what the EBU calls strong.
    ... 1/2


  • ... 2/2

    Because what the EBU say is so strange and because it conflicts with everything I have learned as a player, I am trying to understand it as a player before attempting to understand what the EBU expects me to do as a Director.
    No one ever asks me what forcing to Game means for 2C but if asked I would say it's probably at least 8 or 9 playing tricks or at most 4 losers. I would never assess such a hand by points or what the EBU calls controls.


  • When someone describes a hand as "strong" I expect it to be strong by the rules of the game, i.e. 16+ points or 5+ controls with 12+ points. As mentioned earlier, you can open a hand at the two level with any agreed strength but you must appraise your opponents of what they are facing. Simply having 8+ playing tricks doesn't make a hand "strong" by the rules, it is simply that it has eight playing tricks and the opponents are entitled to know that you might have an n-card suit to the top honours and nothing else. You might view it as a strong hand, which it is on offence, but it's just a one-suit pony.

    As a game, Bridge is defined by its rules, which change from time to time. As players, we are obliged to abide by the rules or face rectification for damage done to the opponents' scores by our violations of them. Some players are unhappy with the current definitions of "strong" but they are the rules by which we play. As a player, it's fine to tell opponents that your 2C bid is 8 or 9 playing tricks or at most 4 losers but you must also inform them whether your agreements permit opening with a hand which is not currently defined as "strong". The laws further state that if the hand is a one-suit pony and you open 2C then the suit must not be clubs.

  • About 15 years ago, I joined Bluejak's IBLF forum. At that time I'd been playing club bridge about 10 years. The same arguments were being made by senior TDs at that time, and I didn't understand them. I'd never heard anybody expect a Benji 2C to be a "strong" hand, just a hand with playing strength, and I thought the arguments about disclosure rather weak. The opposition did know what was going on. But I was relatively inexperienced and had to accept it.

    But now, I am one of the more experienced players in my club. Every Benji player (i.e. almost everyone) who has come into my club game for over 25 years knows how they play these bids. Everyone more experienced, of course, knows what they are playing against. I agree that disclosure for hands that should be preempts can sometimes be inadequate, but it is only the poor players who do it; even so, you still know their exact offensive potential to a trick or so, and that's not hard to defend against. What might have had an element of truth (although I doubt it) 15 years ago has no validity now. Our (non-EBU) teaching programme is Benji based and being successful in getting new players into the clubs, but they are social players, and this regulation is one way of potentially losing them again; after all, there's plenty of non-EBU bridge for them to play in where they don't have to jump through incomprehensible hoops.

    Why exactly is it that, because Acol Strong 2s were played a certain way back in the 70s, Benji 2s have to be played the same way in the late 2010s? Things have moved on and that's how ordinary club players want to play. Our newer players don't know the first thing about Acol 2s - they are ancient history. Frances (IIRC) said somewhere (maybe this thread, maybe another, maybe even another forum, I can't be bothered to check) that the new regulation came in because players didn't understand the previous ER25. The reason players didn't understand that regulation is not that it was technically too difficult, but because the philosophy behind it is completely incomprehensible to them. It's not the game they want to play. I'm not sure if it's more accurate to describe the L&EC as dinosaurs or ostriches, but I think they should think again, and think about it from the perspective of a club player, not a serious tournament player, or even the sort of player experienced enough to write to the L&EC and complain. If you want club bridge to survive, given its age profile, you have to bend to the players who make up the numbers.

  • Well if I was a club player who decided not to call because I was told that the opponent's hand was strong - and found out that our side had 28 points and missed a game contract then I would be a bit unhapy myself.

  • @weejonnie said:
    Well if I was a club player who decided not to call because I was told that the opponent's hand was strong - and found out that our side had 28 points and missed a game contract then I would be a bit unhapy myself.

    But I have never once been told an opponents hand is strong. I have always been told it has 8 playing tricks, which is almost invariably true. That is the case in almost 25 years experience. It is only the regulation makers who tell me that I have been told it is strong. (And for a Benji 2D, I have always been told 23+ points or game-forcing - the worg "strong" is never used.)

  • The Blue Book is so badly written about this.
    5c3b seems to imply that you can bid 2C on anything EXCEPT a hand historically considered a 2C hand.


  • TagTag
    edited November 2017

    The Blue Book simply says that if the hand could be weak, i.e. near worthless in defence in their suit contract, then you are obliged to let the opponents know and also that a 2C opener can't have such a hand if the suit is clubs.

  • That is not a good definition of weak.
    I would consider
    S AKQJxxxxxxxxx
    H void
    D void
    C void
    to be fairly strong.

    The EBU has created confusion by assuming that a strong playing hand has to be strong defensively.


  • I have looked into the Blue Book and I am now quite clear how to treat this as a Director.
    I will continue to assume that 'strong' means 'strong' - and 'forcing to game' means 'forcing to game'.
    If someone explains a 2C bid as meaning strong in the strange EBU sense when it isn't, this could be a valid reason for a judgement call - but I don't expect this to happen.
    If they just say 'strong' then anyone who leaps to the conclusion that it has the EBU meaning would be well advised to ask for clarification. I would probably rule against any claim to have been misled without asking further.


  • Well they should never say 'strong' - if natural then 'strong-forcing' or 'strong not-forcing' but the Blue book makes clear that you must state that the high card points may be less than traditionally expected for a strong bid - even when the hand might be 'strong' as defined by the EBU

    The EBU rule about players protecting themselves is often misunderstood. It doesn't say 'every call that could have an alternative meaning' - it says

    "It is only experienced players who are expected to protect themselves. If such players** receive an explanation which is implausible**, and they are able to protect themselves by seeking further clarification without putting their side’s interests at risk (e.g. by transmitting unauthorised information or waking the opposition up), failure to do so may prejudice the redress to which they would otherwise be entitled."

    The EBU also say that

    "Partnerships may agree that an artificial opening.... may be made with a hand that would not historically have been considered worthy of a forcing opening... This must be disclosed clearly. For example the opening could be described as "Either a strong hand or eight playing tricks in a major". This applies even if the minimum agreed strength is in line with [12+ HCP with at least 5 controls]

  • I think the Blue Book (7C1(1)) puts the onus on the bidders partner to make clear that the hand might not be strong by current definitions after a 2C opening.

    "A ‘Benji’ 2 or 2 opening (or any other opening with a similar meaning) which may have ‘eight playing tricks’ in any suit must by agreement satisfy (a) above. An agreement to make such a bid on a hand with many playing tricks but limited high card strength , or on a (semi-)balanced hand with fewer than 18 HCP, must be clearly disclosed."

  • I think the problem with saying "you can play what you like, so long as you disclose it properly" is that most casual and club players don't know that their 2 !c opener could be made on pre-emptive hands, so they can't disclose it in advance. They just think it's "eight playing tricks", as they (think they) were taught by their bridge teacher. Then they pick up Bluejak's hand:



    and think "I can't open that 1 !s, partner might pass, it's got eight playing tricks, so they open it 2 !c. Afterwards, they forget about it, and it doesn't register in their minds that their 2 !c openers aren't necessarily strong. They'll do it again if a similar hand comes up, but it's no good expecting them to disclose this on their card or in answer to questions. It's just the way these players' minds work. Only system nerds and players who take the game seriously actually think about this kind of distinction. It's no good railing against improper disclosure with these people - you're never going to win.

  • If they judge this as eight playing tricks and disclose it as such they would be right.
    Similarly for : forcing to Game.

    In practice club players are very bad at describing 2C bids. Sometimes they announce rather than alert and comments are something like.. strong, our strongest bid, or Acol 2 Clubs. I have never known anyone ask for further clarification.


  • There have been a few people in this thread who say I consider strong means ... That is exactly the wrong attitude. Bridge is meant to be an open game where your opponents know your agreements. If you say something is strong by your own personal ideas with no worries at all how the opponents will take it then you are misleading them and playing unfairly.

    You are also looking at the weak players from one side only. If they are told that their opponents play Benji they assume it is a strong hand in points. Then they pick up 10 points and seven hearts and decide to open 2C or something. Illogical? Sure! inconsistent? Sure! Somewhere in the last twenty years or so there has come a fear amongst a large number of not so good players of opening one of a suit with a seven card suit so they look for an alternative.

    Another points is that if a weak pair is cheated out of a game by what their opponents bid and what they tell them it never occurs to them that anything is wrong. If they have 28 points and their opponent opens 2C they will quite possibly miss game because of the "strong" opening.

    So how do we solve this? Well, there is no easy solution. The ideas of some people in this thread to misinform opponents and it does not matter and to let them play what they like and it does not matter and that introducing rules will drive them away from duplicate bridge is all hogwash.

    Maybe the EBU solution is not best but whatever they decide people will say it is wrong, so live with the current solution. First they have defined "strong" in a way that people do understand when they are not looking at the relevant hand, namely strong in high cards with some possibility of being a bit weaker with some distribution. Second they have rules as to how you can play artificial two bids that purport to be strong and clubs, teachers, magazine writers and experienced players should teach other people what they are. Third they have pointed out that you can play a wider range of opening natural twos and announce them as "Intermediate to strong" and again players should be taught that.

    And finally, remember that explanations you make are not for your benefit and should not use terms that you define your own way but make explanations for your opponents to understand.

  • That is a long and patronizing comment that ignores the majority of ordinary players. Perhaps its most glaring misstatement is the idea that the EBU:
    "... have defined "strong" in a way that people do understand"
    I certainly do not understand it.
    We can assess our cards by any method - HCP, playing tricks or losers - as long as it actually means HCP and a very strange definition of controls, for a nebulous incomprehensible definition of strong.


  • Sure you can. Then you tell them strong and are misinforming them. Do you think that is fair?

  • I would never say strong for 2 Clubs. I say 'forcing to game.'
    I have recently used the expression 'strong but not in the ridiculous way it's defined by the EBU.'
    I still don't understand their definition, or the need to use it, or what the EBU are trying to achieve by their almost incomprehensible Blue Book rules about strong 2 bids.


  • I must say I don't think I've ever read a book about Acol or indeed any other 2C system that doesn't use the word "strong" in explaining the 2C opening or other strong bids. Often the phrase "hand of power and quality" is used too, but it's the fact that this is overlooked by some players that has led to a need to define "strong".

  • Bridge is a game and, as a game, is defined by its rules. One of the reasons I became a TD was to make myself more familiar with the rules of the game. I accept that many players don't have the will to make such an investment but, as bluejak states, they are not being fair to their opponents if they effectively hide a preempt inside a "strong" bid. Yes, they can say something along the lines of "eight playing tricks" but the rules also require them to let the opponents know if the hand could be weak. The rules also require that a 2C opener isn't an otherwise weak hand with long clubs. If they say that the hand is strong then it should be.

  • @Alan16248 said:
    I would never say strong for 2 Clubs. I say 'forcing to game.'
    I have recently used the expression 'strong but not in the ridiculous way it's defined by the EBU.'
    I still don't understand their definition, or the need to use it, or what the EBU are trying to achieve by their almost incomprehensible Blue Book rules about strong 2 bids.

    IMHO what they are trying to do is to limit (at level 4) the permutations available for 2-level bids. Isn't there a note about those with no defined suit as being particularly hard to defend against?

    One level bids are restricted (must have 8+ points and obey the rule of 18 in 1st and second position, other restrictions apply), so why not restrict 2 (and 3) level bids?

    Basically the 'ridiculous way' (which was decided upon after much deliberation) was chosen so that people would know that if they entered the auction over such a call then they risked incurring a substantial penalty. Not defining strong in such a way meant that they had no idea whether they risked incurring a substantial penalty or that the opener could have a hand that was useless in defense.

    The actual definition is easy - provided you can count to 16 and know what a 'control' is.

    I suspect you can use the phrase "A hand that is strong offensively, but which may have limited defensive capabilities" to explain an alerted 2-bid (provided that your agreement complies with the BB) - However you cannot make an announcement like that - you only have the 4 options (or combinations) specified. The EBU is quite clear that you must ensure opponents know that your hand may not be as strong as tradition would have it.

  • That's exactly what I mean by strong.. it says nothing about defence with a two club bid.. alerted not announced


  • Opener holds:
    And opens Two ♣️‘S which is described when asked as ‘A Benji Two ♣️‘S holding twenty one or or twenty two High Card Points with eight playing tricks’. Asked further if Two ♦️‘S had been bid it would of meant twenty three high card points and be Game forcing.

    Directly over Opener they hold:

    I’m not going to reveal the rest just yet, but what do you good folk think?
  • The description of 2S doesn't seem accurate but it would be legitimate to agree to open this hand with 2S if described more accurately. I would double it whatever natural meaning it had.

  • Thank you Gordon, but it’s Two ♣️‘S that was opened, not Two ♠️‘S.
  • Sorry - the symbols aren't very distinct. The first bit of what I said is still just as true, but now I would wait and double the expected 2S rebid.

  • I’m just concerned that with this kind of hand being deemed as ‘Strong 21/22 High Card Points or with Eight Tricks in Spades is not really acceptable as strong. There is room for they who bid next to have the remaining Spades in the pack and an actual strong hand, meaning declared could potentially only win four tricks - doesn’t seem to me in any way shape or form a strong hand in that case. The description was not satisfactory either.

    It is my understanding and forgive me if I’m wrong, that that Two Club opener should have “eight clear cut tricks”.
  • The regulation was changed last year and is now less restrictive, so this hand conforms to one of the possible requirements, namely that it has five controls and at least 12 hcp. 5C3

    What is not accurate is the way the bid has been described, which seems to suggest requirements for their strong, artificial opening bids that are not fulfilled by the hand in question.

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