The Unusual 2NT Overcall
Once the opposition attempt to start their delicate little bidding conversation at base camp it is your job to jerk them up the mountain as fast as possible before they know whether or not they’ve got enough oxygen for the climb to the summit. Of course this is risky – but no more so than anything else! (see this link! : http://basementbridge.blogspot.com/2010/07/world-of-risk-1-april-2010.html)
Let’s look at all the possible 1 of a suit openings and see what a 2NT overcall means:
- 1C - 2NT = Hearts and Diamonds
- 1D - 2NT = Hearts and Clubs
- 1H - 2NT = Both minors
- 1S - 2NT = Both minors
All these 2NT overcalls are made with a hand that is at least five cards long in each of the two suits promised and LESS than opening points (6 - 10) give or take a bit for vulnerability or whether partner has passed.
Partner now knows you are shapely (!) but weak. The possible outcomes are:
- You steal the contract and make it
- You steal the contract but don’t make it when they had game
- You talk them out of game or slam
- They bid and make what they would have done anyway.
Of these possibilities only the last one is bad so you could suppose it’s a 75% action. Well, it isn’t quite: but in general the odds are on your side PLUS you make life very difficult for them. Will they know what to do? Will they bottle out? who knows who has what? Do they have the oxygen? It is always a good idea to induce uncertainty (lack of oxygen) into their auction.
- After an overcall of a minor suit give preference to hearts with 3-card support or more. Otherwise agree the minor suit.
- After an overcall of a major suit bid the minor you are longest in. Responder’s forcing bid is a cue-bid of the opener's suit showing a good hand with a fit for at least one of the suits implied: 1C - 2NT - pass - 3C! Three Clubs here is forcing (probably to game, maybe slam.)
What About Spades!?
Luckily the spade suit is naturally strong enough to be bid as a natural overcall – even with a two-suiter. It is King of the Suits and beats all others in the auction. Always get yer spades in if you can!!
BTW I tend to teach that with 12-14 points and a 5332 distributional hand you should still open 1NT even if the 5-card suit is a major. The reason is that one bid says it all and partner is much better placed if the auction gets competitive. But I will come clean and say that I would open 1S with something like:
It’s maximum and if partner bids at the 2-level I’ll re-bid 2N. Not classical I know but as good as anything and slightly more honest in this dishonest world where too few bids have too much work to do.