Let’s have a look at a 2♣ opener playing Benjamised Acol…
Please note people play this in different ways…as long as you and your partner are playing it the same way….that is the most important thing!
So a 2♣ opening bid I play as showing
- strong single-suited hand (this replaces the strong Acol 2 bids)
- 20-22 points with a 5 card suit (I would make a suggestion that it shows specifically a MINOR suit….because it is easy to use puppet stayman or muppet stayman to ask for 5 card majors). This means that a direct 2NT opening bid should be 20-22 points without a five card MINOR suit but may contain 5 of a MAJOR.
Before we begin, some players use Reverse Benji which swaps the meanings of the 2♣ and 2♦. Whilst this may seem easier to learn (as this way you are keeping the 2♣ bid the same as you are used to in normal ACOL), it is technically less sound.
A strong single-suited hand (but may have a secondary four-card suit), or 20-22 points with a 5 card MINOR suit relatively balanced (can play this as 5431 shape). The strong single-suited hand is equivalent to a hand suitable for a two-level opening playing traditional Acol (including clubs – not directly available playing traditional Acol) i.e. 4 ‘quick tricks’, and; 8+ playing tricks for hearts or spades, 8½ playing tricks for clubs and diamonds. A playing trick is like an ace, or KQ. To work out your playing tricks imagine the suits breaking “normally”.
With a long minor and a secondary major, consider opening at the one-level. There is always a danger that your 1♣/♦ opener may get passed out….
Responding to 2♣
You can respond in different ways depending on partnership agreement…
But my preference to the 2♣ opening is:
• 2♦ – I just use this as a relay or waiting bid…I would bid this probably 97.4% of the time!
a) If a strong single-suited hand, bid the suit. This then becomes the equivalent of opening an Acol 2♥ or 2♠, with the added bonus that you can bid a strong club suit (albeit at the three-level) – not available in ‘standard’ Acol. The only downside is that a strong diamond suit has to be shown at the three-level and the weaker hand might be declaring in diamonds.
Responder then bids as if partner has opened a strong 2, but the added advantage is that he can ‘pass’ opener’s response. Note that if opener has to show his strong suit at the three-level, the bid is technically non-forcing, but responder should still strain to bid.
Opener can jump the bidding to show even stronger hands (but not strong enough for a 2♦ opening) (e.g. 2♣ – 2♦ – stop 3♠ would show a 9 playing trick hand in spades…this would set the suit), and subsequent bids from responder are either cue bids (if opener jumps it is a cue and an agreement that there could be slam on) or a natural suit that wasn’t good enough to respond with or a stopper giving opener a chance to bid 3NT. With no points or any shape you can simply pass.
b) 20-22 points with a five card suit MINOR. You can then respond with 3♣ as asking for partners opening 5 card MINOR, or you can use whatever methods you use after a 2NT such as transfer bids. If the initial 2♣ opener can contain a 5 card ♣ suit….then to show clubs you now bid 3NT over 3♣ and bid 3♦ to show diamonds.
Alternatively you can conserve bidding space and over 3♣ use 3♦ to show a club suit and 3♥ to show a diamond suit. It’s harder to remember but keeps the bidding lower meaning you have chance to cue bid 3♥ or 3♠ to agree a fit in clubs without going past 3NT and possibly look for a slam in clubs. Obviously make sure you have the agreement with partner.
Lets look at some examples
Let’s look at some examples of 2♣ openers and the hands below them are the responding hands:-
a) 2♣ – 2♦ – 3♠ – 4♠. With nine playing tricks in spades, North opens 2♣ and shows the spade suit after his partner’s 2♦. North bids 3♠ showing 9 playing Tricks. South has sufficient support and values for game…but no interest in slam.
b) 2♣ – 2♦ – 3♣ – 3♠ – 3NT. 9 playing tricks in clubs so North opens 2♣. South bids 2♦. North shows his good club suit, South shows his useful spade suit, and North bids the obvious game.
c) 2♣ – 2♠ – 3♠ – 4♣ – 4NT… – eventually 7♠ . South is good enough to bid his own spade suit and North shows good support. Bidding slowly with 3♠ is a very strong position…you are looking for a slam. A Cue-bid of 4♣ followed by RKCB should get you to 7 spades.
d) 2♣ – 2♦ – 3♠ – 4♥ – 4♠. North has 9 tricks – so jump to 3♠. South having genuine spade support, cue-bids ♥A. This should also show some extra values elsewhere as the 2♣ opener didn’t open 2♦ game force. Slam is on but it’s difficult to find. You could make the argument that South shouldn’t cue bid the ace of hearts without holding something useful in clubs as north only has 9 Playing tricks guaranteed.
e) 2♣ – 2♦– 2NT – 3♣ – 3♦ – 3♠ – 4♣ – 4♠ – 6♣. 2NT shows a 5 card MINOR. 3♣ asks and 3♦ shows CLUBS! 3♠ is now a cue bid agreeing clubs and 4♣ is now Roman Key Card Minorwood. 4♠ shows two keycards and you take a view to bid 6♣. You would normally open 2NT with this hand, partner would look for a major fit and not find it and settle for 3NT most of the time.
Another partnership agreement that people have is to show a very poor hand opposite the strong suited hand by just bidding the next suit up. Since the two diamond bid is game forcing…the auction might go something like…
2♦ – 2♥
3♦ – 3♥
3NT – Pass
So 3♥ could be a 5+ card suit but can also be a negative…as you don’t want the weak hand to play it out in 3NT as they might only have game if they are playing it out.
The 20-22 point with a 5 card MINOR can have partnership agreements, such as:
• Only contains a five card MINOR with no four card MAJOR
• Could contain a singleton or not
• Could be 2245 or 2254 shape
• Is always a 5332 shape
It’s up to partnership agreement of how exactly you play the 2♣ opener.
Over 97.4% of the time you are going to bid 2♦ to see what opener has.