Question from Lor Irwin , Chapin, South Carolina "I am having a 'discussion' with a bridge friend. She says there is a bid called forcing 2NT. Opener bids 1C, responder bids 1H, opener bids 2H, and responder bids 2NT to find out if opener has three or four hearts. I believe that there is almost no chance that opener would bid 2H without four of them. Is this a real bid/convention that you are aware of? Thank you so much; there’s a quarter riding on who’s right."

Coopers: Great question. We’re sorry but you’ve lost your quarter.

It’s good to be able to raise with three card support and a singleton somewhere or even a weak doubleton and a hand that is likely to play better in a suit. For example, having opened a minor both these hands would want to raise partner’s 1H bid to 2H: S x H AJx D KQxxx C Kxxx or S xx H AKx D Axx C Qxxxx.

When opener is allowed to raise responder’s major with three trumps, responder needs a way to make a game try and find out how many trumps opener has. 3NT may be a better contract than four of the major when there is only a 4-3 fit. The bid of 2NT by responder can be used as a forcing way to ask this question. Once you have this forcing 2NT bid in your arsenal, then the jump to 3NT after partner raises your major is used to show a 4333 hand. This lets partner intelligently chose which contract to play.

Here are the Cooper responses to the forcing 2NT after 1 minor-1 major-2 major-2NT (responses are very similar after 1H-1S-2S)

:1. Three of opener’s minor: Only three card support and minimum; says nothing about the minor (responder may pass with a fit for the minor or go back to the major or bid a new suit, forcing and looking for the right place to play).

2. Three of responder’s major: Four card support and minimum

3. Three of a new suit: Three card support with a maximum, this suit is stopped but the other is not (opener may be short in the fourth suit). If opener had as little as a partial stopper in the fourth suit - Qx or Jxx - he would have bid 1N with his maximum rather than bidding 2M with only three card support. This allows us to stay out of 3N with a stopper of xx opposite Qx or worse!

4. 3NT: Three card support and maximum, no stopper in either unbid suit, but perhaps one partial stopper (stiff king, Qx, or Jxx).

5. Four of a new suit: A splinter with four card support and a maximum (when responder’s suit is hearts you jump to four of opener’s minor to show a singleton spade).

6. Four of responder’s major: Four card support and a maximum, no shortness that opener wants to tell the enemy about.

There are many variations on this theme, with some people playing very complex responses and others more simple ones. Another common set of responses (known as simplified Meckwell) is:

1. 3C: Minimum with three trumps.

2. 3D: Maximum with three trumps.

3. 3H: Minimum with four trumps.

4. 3S: Maximum with four trumps.

Others play a more complex version of this 2NT ask called spiral raises . Go to to read an article about that at Bridge Winners.

Previous page: Consult the Coopers: Always Drury, June 2012   Next page: Consult the Coopers: Major Suit Game Tries, August 2012