Saturday, March 03, 2007 2:15 AM

2/1 Spades & Hearts




          When 2/1 forcing to game was introduced , the most obvious failure of the structure was burying the heart suit & missing heart partials , games & slams after a 1 opener. The forcing NT is not a place for a 6 card heart suit with close to invitational values or at invitational values. You wrong side the NT . Partner & the opponents can pre-empt you out of showing your hearts with a variety of spade & NT jumps & pre-empts. Why bury possibly the entire feature of your hand ( a good 6 card heart suit or any suit for that matter) with a 1NT bid ?? You use up valuable & useful bidding space. A simple 2 rebid could bury your 6-3 heart fit & end the auction for disasterous consequences. The spade suit pre-empts partner !!


          Finding fits early simply auctions . You have useful space to Q bid , splinter or otherwise describe your hand. The forcing NT becomes a stalling mechanism where partner announces her heart suit finally but by jumping to the 3 level. This means that the partnership is up the 4 level before they have had a chance to investigate how the hands fit , duplication of value & controls. The Goren 2/1 non forcing with hearts over spades is far superior in bidding theory.


          We all know that , so how do we get our heart suit back ? Heart splinters must be bid a different way & 2/1 in hearts is non forcing to game if the suit is rebid. This understanding gets us off to the best start possible to get to our heart games & slams. My partners play a 3 splinter to show a stiff in the other major so we can recover the heart suit naturally.


          BJ & I play fast arrival with hearts over spades & a direct jump to 3 shows a pre-emptive heart hand. Tom Gandolfo plays this sequence as intermediate. No matter what your methods , hearts are natural & kept out of the forcing NT structure. This allows 3 to be used in forcing NT sequences as a fit showing jump.


          Contrast these two auctions with ♠x AKJ10xx xxxx ♣xx and partner opens 1♠ . In one system you bid 1NT & in the other 2. Now look what happens . ♠Axxxx Qxxx x ♣AKx and partner rebids 2 . The forcing NT bidder bids 4 for +680 . In the other sequence the heart fit is found immediately and opener splinters to 4. The 2 bidder now investigates for a grand slam & missing an Ace settles on +1430.  “Tight” 4 games are easily bid by beginning with a 2/1 . The opponents can not pre-empt you as they can if you bury your heart suit with a 1NT bid. If 3NT is the correct contract , at least it is right sided instead of through partner  just to her heart suit.


          Bridge is a game of suits. Getting the heart suit “out in the open” initially gets you to nice major suit games. 2/1 forcing to game has some nice advantages however hearts over spades was one of the 2/1 theory’s casualties. You should recover your heart suit & keep it out of the clutches of the forcing NT.