Sometimes you start a climb from the very bottom of the mountain, not knowing how far up the slippery slope you will be able to climb. Occasionally you can take advantage of technology and make your journey more certain by starting higher up – thereby ensuring you get where you want to be. In Bridge the two bids that get you started higher up the slippery slope and force the journey to the top are 2NT and 2C.
1) 2NT = balanced 20 - 22 HCP
It’s not FORCING (!) but is highly invitational and partner should consider game with as few as 3 HCP in their own hand (22 + 3 = 25!) . Stayman and Transfers can be used as over a 1 NT opening.
2) 2C = balanced 23 + OR!!! An unbalanced hand with about 20+ HCP (4 losers)
The point is these are hands that want to be in Game opposite hardly any points from partner and maybe even slam opposite a few decent key cards.
The reason you want to force to the game so much is because of the Game Bonus. At teams, duplicate and chicago bridge these are worth 300 not vulnerable and 500 vulnerable and at Rubber, if you win 2-0, you get a whopping 700!
Don’t be shy. If you’ve got something worth showing – get it out in the open light of day fast!
Responding With Big Hands
I know I know, mostly when partner opens you hold some dross and queasily end up in a ratty part-score. Just occasionally it is you as responder who holds the power house and not the opener. But what do you do then? Make some kind of jump forcing bid straight away? Bid game immediately? Hmm. Mostly not is the answer.
Usually there’s no need to get over-excited too quickly (as the actress…) The trouble is you don’t know what partner has for their opening. They may have no more than 10 HCP and a scrappy 6-card suit. That’s not their fault - it's what they were dealt and you shouldn’t berate
partner for occasionally being a tad aggressive in the auction. That’s why – even with fairly big hands – you should just make some simple natural bid. Not to deceive partner but to give them the option of making their most natural re-bid. In that way you find out what their hand is worth.
Later in the auction – after partner has made their simple natural re-bid, and given you some idea of what they actually hold – you can always keep the bidding open with a jump rebid, a reverse or by using the common Fourth Suit Forcingconvention. The only kind of hand that should make a direct jump response is a hand almost too good for game and very very interested in slam possibilities. It should contain a long strong suit of its own and a good point count, usually 16-19hcp:
Partner opens 1H and you would be perfectly within your rights to bid 2S and slam would be on opposite some opening even as awful as this:
You’ve told partner with your jump that game is certain and slam is probable which would certainly not be the case if you had some ordinary 12-hcp hand. If slam is on in those circumstances it is because partner has a good hand and it is partner who will take charge and drive forward. Save your biggest bids for truly big moments!