Psychic Strong Twos

The SBU Standard System File defines a 2♣ opener as “an artificial strength-showing bid that promises 23+HCP if balanced; or, if unbalanced, a hand too strong to allow partner to Pass inresponse.”

An alternative definition: “A hand with more Honour Tricks than Losers.”

Our attention has been brought to these hands where someone has opened 2♣

♠ QT
AQJT985
76
♣AJ

14 HCP
7 Playing Tricks, 6 losers
2 Honour Tricks

♠ A
♥ AKQ87543
♦ 42
♣ J8

14 HCP
9 Playing Tricks, 4 losers
3 Honour Tricks

♠ AKQJ8654
3
♦ 9
♣ K6

13 HCP
9½ Playing Tricks, 3 losers
2½ Honour Tricks

Promising certainly, but none comes close to a 2♣ opener.  One might argue that a 2♣ opener on these hands is a psyche – a gross distortion of strength.More likely it is a misjudgement, the result of inexperience or misunderstanding.

Players should beware of falling foul of the SBU Systems Policy on Strong artificial opening bids.  The SBU has taken up its option under Law 40B(d) to restrict the use of psychic artificial calls.  It is forbidden to psyche strong artificial opening bids that are forcing: e.g. an Acol strong 2♣ opener, or 1♣ in a Strong Club system.

If a player psyches a strong artificial opening bid that is forcing this must be reported.

The Systems Policy offers the following guidelines for opening bids:

2.3.2 A Strong (Acol) Two opener in a suit is expected to conform to the Rule of 25:
“HCP plus the lengths of the longest two suits is at least 25”.

Our examples do not even qualify as Acol 2s under these criteria.a) = 14HCP + 7 + 2 21
b) = 14HCP + 8 + 2 24
c) = 13 HCP + 9 + 2 24

Acol 2s are out of favour nowadays, but Benjy Acol is still popular. We would remind you that the definition of an Acol Strong 2 is "a hand of quality with 8 playing tricks".   We suggest a minimum of two Honour tricks outside your main suit so that the hand is suitable for defence as well as offence.

Sometimes even a hand with more than 20 HCP does best to open a simple one bid rather than force to game with insufficient values. If you find yourself playing 1♣ that may well be high enough!

A question to ask is: how likely is it to go "All Pass"” if I open at the one-level?

If you have 16HCP or less you can be pretty certain that someone else will bid, giving you a chance to show extra playing strength on the second round.