Monday, October 24, 2005 9:20 AM

2NT rebids - Relay




            Lets review why we play relays after every rebid of 2NT in the book. The main reason we play relays is to make natural bidding strong. The Lebensohl relay principle is if you go via the relay route , it is weaker than bidding naturally. We follow the same principle in all our relays with only one exception. The one exception sticks out like a sore thumb. You relay and bid 3NT anyway . Why this convoluted route to 3NT ? The reason is that this is a balanced slam try in partners minor.


          The 2nd reason for the relay is that we suppress majors with a 2NT rebid. In fact ,, we may suppress a 4 card fit with responders major ! Anyway , after a relay by responder , a major bid is natural trying to find a fit or just describing her hand.


          With clubs and diamonds there are special understandings. After a club opener , you bypass a diamond response with weak or just invitational hands . You bid your major even if it distorts your distribution. If you are stronger,  of course you just bid naturally . You respond your diamond , after partner bids 2NT you just bid your major naturally so you find your game or slam rather simply.


          This understanding of bypassing diamonds in favour of your major has an interesting byproduct after a relay. You hold ♠Kxx x KQxxxx ♣xxx and partner opens 1♣ . You respond 1 , partner bids 2NT so now what ? A 3 bid is natural & strong probably inviting Q bids for a diamond slam . A relay & passing 3 is an out , so what does a relay to 3 & bidding a major bid mean ? It can not be natural as you would not have chosen a relay , you would have just bid your major. You can use the bid as shortness to avoid 3NT in favour of a 5 contract !  Partner has AQx Jx Axx AKxxx and after a relay she hears 3. This will drive the hand to 5 thereby avoiding the 3NT trap.


          After a diamond or a major opener ,  we do not have any such understanding with a 2NT rebid. After a diamond opener, a major response , a relay followed by a major is natural so just shows a non slam going hand. What about reverses by responder ? These do not show the worlds fair, unless subsequent Q bidding indicates otherwise. You need the reverses to show the 4-5 hands as the relay followed by spades shows specifically 4-4. ♠Kxxx AJxxx xx ♣xx    1-P-1-P    2NT-P-3-P  shows this hand.




3-P-3-P   shows the other .  ♠Kxxx AJxx xx ♣xxx



          What if you are 5-4 in the majors with spades as the longer suit ? How do you describe those hands after a 2NT rebid ? The answer depends on the strength of your hand . If you are strong enough for a slam try , you bid naturally. If you just want preference from partner , relay first to throw a wet blanket on proceedings.


          A 2NT invite or a jump to 2NT are cumbersome sequences in standard bidding. As usual , a relay to the rescue.