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2006 - 2015
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2006 - 2015
For current news, results, etc please visit
Affiliated to the Essex Contract Bridge Association and to the English Bridge Union
DEFENSIVE BIDDING WHEN THE OPPONENTS INTERVENE OVER OUR 1NT OPENING - INCORPORATING LEBENSOHLAcknowledgement: this article is based on notes originally prepared by club member Chris Megahey.
There are two situations where Lebensohl may be used:
- Partner opens 1NT and the opponent's overcall in a suit at the 2-level - natural or artificial. Without some agreed means of defence to such interference, the partnership may badly 'lose out' in battles for part-score, or even Game, contracts, or may venture into a completely unplayable contract. This situation is covered within this article.
- An opponent opens a 'Weak 2' and partner doubles for take-out. The problem now is, that if the opener's partner passes, then the partner of the doubler is forced to bid something - and how does the doubler know how strong partner is? This situation is covered in a complementary article on this website.
THE BASIC SYSTEM - LEBENSOHL
SummaryThere are various dialects of the Lebensohl convention - and this is just one of them. The scenario is that partner has opened 1NT, and our RHO bids a suit at the 2-level. Generally, it doesn't matter whether the suit bid is artificial or natural. Note that the same style can be used opposite a 1NT overcall. Similar principles also apply if partner's 1NT opener (or overcall) was passed round to the protective position, and if the bidding is still below 2NT when it comes back round to us; note, however, that (obviously) our initial pass of the 1NT rules out many of the possible options, i.e., any bid we now make will merely show a competitive hand, not invitational or game-forcing. Responder's options are as follows:
- Note that the partner of the 1NT opener is not obliged to bid if his RHO intervenes with an overcall, so therefore in that situation any bid shows at least a few values
- Double is essentially penalty-oriented if the opponents have specified at least one suit
- 2 of a suit - if still available - is to play, so it is 'competitive / non-forcing'
- 3 of a suit - whether or not 2 of the same suit is available - shows a minimum of a 5-card suit, and is forcing
- A cue bid of opponents' known suit is forcing, with interest (4 cards) in at least one major, and if bid directly shows a stop in their suit, but if bid after an intial 2NT response (see next point) shows no stop in the opponent's suit.
- 2NT is Lebensohl. Initially it asks opener to bid 3♣, but it can show a whole variety of hand types, ranging from non-forcing, to invitational, to game-forcing, as described by the examples below. Note that, if it subsequently becomes relevant, then this 2NT bid shows no stop in the opponent's suit.
Some basic examplesIn the examples below, unless marked *, South's bidding is forcing to game.
In (a), South wishes to play in 3♣/♦. Via this route, South can show a competitive but non-forcing hand with a minor suit - at least 5-cards, but ideally 6+.
In (b), South's 3♠ bid is invitational with 5+ spades, because he could have bid 2♠ to play. Note that in this situation we can't specify whether we have a heart stop.
In (c), South hopes to play in 3NT, but he has shown no stop in their suit, so North may have to take it out into 4 of a minor.
In (d), South has interest in a major (4 cards), but no diamond stop.
In (e), South shows 4 spades but no heart stop
There are implications when Lebensohl 2NT has not been used.
In (f) South has a heart stop (as Lebensohl not used) and 4 spades
In (g) South has a heart stop (as Lebensohl not used) and no interest in spades (as 3♥ not bid)
In (h) South has a diamond stop (as Lebensohl not used), and interest in at least one major
ADDING SOME 'BELLS'
If the overcaller has made an artificial suit bid that specifies at least one suit, the above all still apply, but South will bid as if the overcaller had bid his known suit naturally.
(i) 3♥ shows heart stop, 4 spades
(j) 3♥ shows no heart stop, 4 spades
If the overcaller's bid shows two specified suits [e.g. 2♣ (Landy) showing both majors], the above apply, but note the potentially duplicated cases (k) and (n).
(k) spade stop, but no heart stop. However, see also example (n)
(l) both majors stopped
(m) no stop in either major. If opener does not have both majors stopped, he should bid 4♣. N/S are now going to play in a minor suit game.
(n) asks partner to bid 3NT with a heart stop. It confirms a spade stop. Note that South could also bid 2NT followed by 3♥, - i.e., example (k) - meaning the same thing. However, a disadvantage in the 'k' sequence is that West now has a chance to bid (say 3♥), which would cause problems as North will have to pass, and now South cannot ask for a heart stop. So a direct 3♥ bid, as shown in (n), is better.
If the overcaller has made an artificial suit bid which shows an unspecified suit (or suits), proceed as if overcaller's bid suit is natural.For example, suppose that the opponents play that 2♣ is Cappelletti, showing an unspecified 6-card suit: (o) If the 2♣ bid is Cappelletti, then a direct 3♣ bid shows a club stop, and interest in at least one major
(p) If the 2♣ bid is Cappelletti, then this sequence shows no club stop, and no interest in a major
(q) If the 2♣ bid is Cappelletti, then this sequence is essentially the same as (o), except via sequence (q) it denies a club stop
The same principles apply if 2♦ is the bid showing the unspecified single suit.
If the overcall is artificial but shows a specific single suit (e.g. 2♦ is a transfer to hearts), then responder bids as if the overcall was 2♥.Assuming that in all three of these example, the 2♦ bid is a transfer to hearts:
(r) South is showing no heart stop, but he has 4 spades
(s) South has both a heart stop and 4 spades
(t) South has a heart stop but no interest in spades
ADDING SOME 'WHISTLES'
There are various hands where responder will seek to double the opposition for penalties.These are likely to be:
- (a) 10-12 points balanced; or
- (b) 13+ points balanced, preferring to double them if possible, rather than find the right game - especially, but not necessarily, not vulnerable against vulnerable; or
- (c) The hand might be weaker if overcaller's bid was natural, e.g. if East overcalls a natural 2♦ and South's hand includes a diamond stack, then South may choose to double for penalties - all the more so if East / West are vulnerable
Such hands should start with a double, after which opener is expected to double any suit bid if he can. Any subsequent double by opener or responder is for penalties.
- If overcaller's suit is natural, this is a penalty double of that suit. This includes overcaller showing a 2 suiter including the suit bid.
- If overcaller has shown 2 suits, at least one of which is specified (not the suit bid), this is a general 'let's try to double them' bid, but may not be able to double the specified suit, nor the suit bid.
- If overcaller has shown an unspecified suit (e.g. Cappelletti), this shows general values and not necessarily able to double the suit bid.
(v) 2♣ shows hearts and another; South's double is for penalties, but not necessarily of hearts
(w) 2♣ is Cappelletti (single suited hand); South's double is trying for penalties, not necessarily able to stand a double of clubs
(x) 2♦ shows spades and another; South's double is for penalties, but not necessarily of diamonds or spades; North's double is a penalty double of 2♥
(x) 2♦ shows spades and another; South's double is for penalties, but not necessarily of diamonds or spades; West's 2♥ is a relay (is your other suit hearts?); North's pass shows that he is unable to double 2♥ for penalties. If East passes and partner now bids 2NT, it shows 10-12 points and no wish to defend 2♥x
(z) Here 2♦ shows spades and another suit; South's double is for penalties, but not necessarily of diamonds or spades; if West passes, then typically, this will show long(ish) diamonds, not wishing to find partner's other suit. Now North has a dilemma. Passing means East may well pass to play in an undoubled 2♦ contract (even though he might not have diamonds). So North either has to pass (with defence to diamonds) or bid a suit (with little defence to diamonds). He should not be too worried about bidding a suit, though, because partner has 10+ points and a viable contract is likely to be found.