The beginning of weak two-bids dates back to the 1920s, but it was not until the 1960s that they became popular. In fact, most players learned that an opening bid at the two level was a hand too strong to open at the one level.

As the evidence began to build that very few hands actually qualified for a strong opening two-bid, and that many, many hands did qualify for a preemptive bid, which would upset the opponents, the weak two-bid became a viable alternative to the strong two bid.

The weak two-bid is now the norm for most players. Opening bids of 2D, 2H and 2S are limited pre-emptive bids that describe opener’s high card points, hand pattern, and the offensive and defensive potential of the hand.

When playing weak two-bids, the artificial 2C bid is used for all strong opening hands.

Weak two-bids and weak three-bids are much alike, but you need a six-card suit to open a weak two-bid and a seven-card suit to open a three-bid.

Both require fewer than 10 points and both are obstructive to the opponent, making it hard for the enemy to bid accurately.

The advantages of the weak two-bid:

  • it allows the opener to describe a very specific hand, one that is weak in honor count but strong in distribution;
  • it helps partner to judge your side’s trick-taking potential;
  • it interferes with the opponents’ ability to find their best contract;
  • and if you must defend, it steers the opening lead in the right direction – provided, of course, you resist the tendency to preempt hands with trash suits (T98765, for example).

The disadvantages of the weak two-bid:

  • it can preempt your side rather than the opponents’ and prevent you from finding the best fit;
  • the opponents are listening and know your points and hand pattern.

But, overall weak-two bids are a very sensible approach to bidding when used properly. When abused, they can be dangerous and damaging to your partnership.

Have you heard any of these views about weak two-bids? Always have two of the top three honors or three of the top five; never have an 11-point hand; never open a weak-two with a four-card major; never open a weak-two with a void; never have an outside five-card suit; always respond to preemptor with an opening hand; never bid again after you make a weak two-bid.

What two words rarely enter a bridge discussion? “Always” and “never.” As we explore the weak two-bids, you will discover which of the above work for you and your partner.

Which of the following hands would you preempt?

  1. AQJT95 64 885 73
  2. 53 74 KQT974 QT5
  3. 85 732 K4 A97632
  4. KQ4 KJT973 A92 6
  5. KQT976 65 K76 73

Dr. Kathie Walsh, an ABTA teacher of the year, teaches all levels of bridge at Hilton Head Island Bridge Club.