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weakish 5 opening

#1 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 10:19

We are encountering a pair playing strong club who explain their 2// openings as "5 cards in suit, 9-11 HCP". Responder has an artificial 2NT enquiry which seems to ask about shape and prelude game forces.

We have traditional but fairly effective defences over a weak 2 opening (disciplined suit and NT overcalls, Lebensohl), but seem just as vulnerable as the rest of the field to this gambit, which is of course opening many hands where others would pass, as well as pre-empting and transmitting precise information. I also have a feeling that the chances we have game are higher than over a 6-card opening, although I haven't simulated that and it may just be coincidence.

Probably we should tweak our defences to better fit the challenge, but how? Maybe someone is playing (or used to encountering) this scheme or something similar (I guess Muiderberg is not that different, even if it promises a side minor and I imagine a wider range). In any case expert comment is appreciated as always.
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#2 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 10:30

One thing, establish what they ACTUALLY open these on - do they open 5332s or do they guarantee a second suit or a 6th one ? Which 11 point hands do they open 2, which do they open 1 ?
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#3 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 14:14

View PostCyberyeti, on 2022-July-04, 10:30, said:

One thing, establish what they ACTUALLY open these on - do they open 5332s or do they guarantee a second suit or a 6th one ? Which 11 point hands do they open 2, which do they open 1 ?


They have no convention card and it's not easy to extract information from them, although they obey alert regulations and are polite. From what I see, their 2 opening does not guarantee a second suit nor deny one (except perhaps the other major), and that is what 2NT is nominally about. I think it denies 6 card in majors, they put those (or at least some) through multi. They have opened both weak 9 points and strong 11 points, never outside numeric range (nor has a 1 level ever been less than 12).
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#4 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 14:30

Sounds similar to Fantunes (although those openings allow for 6(+) in the suit bid, and are traditionally 10-13).

I would play a standard defence against this (double is takeout, bidding a suit is 5(+) and a sound opening, 2NT is 16-19 balanced with their suit stopped, (Transfer) Lebensohl is on after doubling, use the cues and jumps the same way you would over a natural weak two) but when in doubt favour passing a bit more often. The two-bids of Fantunes are a double-edged sword, preempting partner more often than traditional weak two's. 2X-a.p. is a terrible result for opener if the opponents really have their passes. So when in doubt, take the conservative action.

As an aside, it is quite amusing to play 2 as 'somewhat weak with clubs' but 2 as multi. I can't figure out what the motivation is for playing it this way around instead of flipping it.
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#5 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 14:50

View PostDavidKok, on 2022-July-04, 14:30, said:

Sounds similar to Fantunes (although those openings allow for 6(+) in the suit bid, and are traditionally 10-13).


Yes, Fantunes-style. Which is a more structured system than EHAA where a EHAA two-bid shows 6-12 high card points, and a five card or longer suit. There is no restriction on suit quality (xxxxx and AKQJxxxx are accepted!).

A defense to EHAA two bids, I guess, are even more difficult to counter.
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#6 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 15:02

View PostDavidKok, on 2022-July-04, 14:30, said:

Sounds similar to Fantunes (although those openings allow for 6(+) in the suit bid, and are traditionally 10-13).

I would play a standard defence against this (double is takeout, bidding a suit is 5(+) and a sound opening, 2NT is 16-19 balanced with their suit stopped, (Transfer) Lebensohl is on after doubling, use the cues and jumps the same way you would over a natural weak two) but when in doubt favour passing a bit more often. The two-bids of Fantunes are a double-edged sword, preempting partner more often than traditional weak two's. 2X-a.p. is a terrible result for opener if the opponents really have their passes. So when in doubt, take the conservative action.

Thanks. Yes I can see that conservative passes might extract the best result, but also that weakening 2NT a bit might be a good idea.

View PostDavidKok, on 2022-July-04, 14:30, said:

As an aside, it is quite amusing to play 2 as 'somewhat weak with clubs' but 2 as multi. I can't figure out what the motivation is for playing it this way around instead of flipping it.

Probably part of the motivation is that almost everyone here plays fairly heavy 2/1 openings with 1 2+ and 1 4+ (occasionally 5+).
The other day they opened their light 5 card 2 and cheerfully sacrificed over our 4, which made at other tables.
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#7 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 15:39

View PostLBengtsson, on 2022-July-04, 14:50, said:

Yes, Fantunes-style. Which is a more structured system than EHAA where a EHAA two-bid shows 6-12 high card points, and a five card or longer suit. There is no restriction on suit quality (xxxxx and AKQJxxxx are accepted!).

A defense to EHAA two bids, I guess, are even more difficult to counter.
I think many of these treatments sound scary, but in truth lack teeth. Sure, their 2 opening could be anything! But that cuts both ways. Fall back to basics - LOTT, establish which side is stronger, bid natural suits, double with shortness. Maybe make sure your bids are slightly more sound than normal, if you wish. Responder has got as much of a problem as the defenders do, and in the long run extremely wide-ranging high level opening bids are a losing tactic. Sure, they'll get some tops against you along the way, but if you keep your defence simple and natural you already have an edge over all the other tables where they aren't facing these opponents.

View Postpescetom, on 2022-July-04, 15:02, said:

Thanks. Yes I can see that conservative passes might extract the best result, but also that weakening 2NT a bit might be a good idea.
Ah, that wasn't meant to be a weakening. I play 16-19 notrump overcalls over practically all preemptive bids. The occasional 15 might slip in too, if the situation seems appropriate. This is in line with the traditional advice on 'borrowing 7 HCP from partner over their preempt'.
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#8 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-July-04, 15:58

View PostDavidKok, on 2022-July-04, 15:39, said:

Ah, that wasn't meant to be a weakening. I play 16-19 notrump overcalls over practically all preemptive bids. The occasional 15 might slip in too, if the situation seems appropriate. This is in line with the traditional advice on 'borrowing 7 HCP from partner over their preempt'.

We usually play 17(16)-19, but the local style of preempting is conservative, at times perversely so (hands I would open 1 level).
I take your point.
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#9 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-July-05, 09:06

If you are going to lean on LOTT, know that about 50% (*) of these openers are on 5 (okay, EHAA openers, but it would not surprise me if the math was similar). It's harder to use LOTT on the "5, or 6, or 7", especially if the opponents are not going to be Lawful about their raising, so you lose those clues. It's still possible, but you have to adjust your instincts.

In OP, did you mean 2/2M? It reads oddly (or I want to know what 2 is in the system). I'd also want to know what 1x was, and how strong the "strong club" was. Because if there's overlap between 1M and 2M, I'd want to understand that; if there isn't, I'd want to have that solid in my mind when competing.

(Last time I played anything like this, it was "five rule club" that was told "we require 5 and 5 for our two-bids in this club", so we switched the 2M to be this to help the clunky 8-14 4+ 1M openers. I wouldn't say it was a good system - but it was fun).

* EDIT: did the sim. If you trust my scripting, for "about 50%" read "about 65%". Note that that's based on "any hand in range with 5+ in a valid suit is opened", which for EHAA overcounts some hands (most 10-12, 5m332s are opened 1NT) and for OP's opponents makes some serious assumptions (they won't pass a 9HCP with 9xxxx, they don't downgrade 5332s, they don't bid something else on some hands, they don't upgrade KQJxxx and an 11 count,...)
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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-July-05, 15:08

View Postmycroft, on 2022-July-05, 09:06, said:

If you are going to lean on LOTT, know that about 50% (*) of these openers are on 5 (okay, EHAA openers, but it would not surprise me if the math was similar). It's harder to use LOTT on the "5, or 6, or 7", especially if the opponents are not going to be Lawful about their raising, so you lose those clues. It's still possible, but you have to adjust your instincts.

In OP, did you mean 2/2M? It reads oddly (or I want to know what 2 is in the system). I'd also want to know what 1x was, and how strong the "strong club" was. Because if there's overlap between 1M and 2M, I'd want to understand that; if there isn't, I'd want to have that solid in my mind when competing.


The OP intentionally omitted 2 because they play that as some kind of Multi, which certainly includes some or all weak 6 card majors and quite probably 5+ diamonds 9-11 too.
1 seems to be any hand 16+ except 20+ balanced, 1 can only guess, 1M 12-15 4+ cards does not exclude longer minor, 1N 12-14 balanced.
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#11 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2022-July-06, 09:03

Okay, makes sense.

Unless their 1 is Polish-like, I don't know what they bid with A94 KQ8 6 KQT842, though. 1? If it's that ambiguous, it's probably worth looking at defending that call, too.

But you can see why these bids - especially 2/M - would ping the "why are they doing this? What does the rest of the system look like?" and wonder if I need to worry about defending against that.

But yeah, a large majority of the time (I'd forgotten about the 3 and 4 bids when I did the previous, because EHAA is weird; but that likely takes some of the 7+card suits out of the 2 bid) it's a 5-card suit, maybe to the point where you should play it in LOTT calculations as 5 until you find otherwise.
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