New partner opens 2S - what does it mean?
Know thy partner, and thy protocols
Rubber Bridge players are often strong
Duplicate Bridge players compete early and often
Three benefits of Weak 2s
Get environmental clues
Consider the audience
And the general approach
As well as the opposition's bidding, or lack therein
When in doubt, ask your opponents
Honesty is the best policy
It's usually easier to get into trouble than knowing how to get out of
This is in response to your question regarding partner's unknown 2 level
You ask a good question -- one of many which should require
partnership discussion before the cards are dealt. When we sit down at
the table with a new partner, it's wise to discuss "conventions" - coded
bids that have a special meaning other than what they would seem on face
value. The "weak two" versus the "strong two" opening bid should be at
the top of this discussion.
Like most of us, perhaps you were taught Rubber Bridge by friends or family
who play "strong two's" and are wondering why many better players seem to
play "weak two's".
While it's often unwise to generalize, you will notice that many "rubber
bridge" players enjoy bidding methods that have been around for many years.
Originally, Bridge players used two-level bids to show strong hands and only
used three-level opening bids to show weak hands (often with 7 cards in the
preemptive suit). However, over time, many competitive players found it
advantageous to use most two-level bids as "weak two" preemptive bids, too.
Similar to the three-level weak preemptive bid, the idea of the weak-two level
preempt is to take bidding space away from the opponents; this makes
it difficult for them to find a game fit, provide your partner lead
direction and an opportunity to increase the preempt (especially with
But let's focus on your question:
"How is one to know what the bid is, in fact?"
If this is your first session with your partner and unfortunately you
haven't talked about any conventions, it's not an easy question to answer!
If I was at a social gathering playing informally and no one seemed to even
want to discuss conventions, I'd probably
have to assume they are all playing "strong two" bids.
If I was playing in a duplicate game, I'd assume my new partner was playing
"weak two" bids. I'm not trying to imply that all
Rubber Bridge players play "strong two's" and all Duplicate
players us "weak two'", but it's often true.
Sometimes there are other clues, as a partner mentioning
SAYC (Standard American Yellow Card) or other Systems which
include the "weak two" bidding system.
Other times you can almost tell by the context of others bids and the cards
you are holding. If my partner opens with a two-level
bid and I have an opening hand (13 High Card Points) or more,
it's mathematically improbable that the Partner is making a
strong-two bid. Similarly, if the bidding went:
P - (P) - 2H - (?)
and your Right Hand Opponent (in fourth seat) did anything
other than pass, your can probably figure partner was making
a weak-two bid. Otherwise, it probably would not be logical
for the Right Hand Opponent to be bidding.
A couple final points:
If an opponent has made a two-level bid, you are entitled to ask their
partner (on your left of the two-level bidder) what the unknown bid means -
weak, strong, conventional meaning.
If an opponent asks you about your partners two-level bid and you don't
know yourself, you should say "we do not have an agreement about the bid".
They may not like this, but that's the rules of the game. However, you
should be sure to immediately discuss this with your partner after the play
of the hand so it won't happen again!
The 2 Club bid is always strong, even though the point range varies a bit
between the weak-two and the strong-two bidding.
Ironically, in Duplicate Bridge Laws, neither "weak two" nor "strong two"
bids require any kind of "alerts" by the partner of the person making the
bid! So unless an opponent asks or they look at the Opponents Convention
Card, it might remain a mystery what the bid meant. However, well over 95
percent of Duplicate players enjoy the benefits of the "weak-two" approach
(if not playing a conventional treatment).
Using a "weak-two" approach requires more partnership agreements to
discuss various permutations (forcing/non-forcing responses, rebids,
opponent interference, etc). This should be considered before a partnership
changes from a "strong-two" to a "weak-two" approach.
In summary, it's always a good idea to ask your partner
what conventions they want to play before picking up your cards!