Quick summary

Open 2NT with

Problem NT hands include:

With a 20 HCP hand that has problems, usually better to open 1 of longest suit and rebid NT.

Consider modifying standard Acol, to require 21+HCP for 2 NT opening.

With 23+ points open 2club then rebid NT at the right level

2NT opening can be passed by responder with <4 HCP, but with 4HCP you can Transfer or Stayman if appropriate.

2club is forcing to game, unless followed by a 2NT rebid (promising 23-24HCP) which can be passed.


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade J 10 7 5
heart 9 8 5
diamond A 2
club 7 6 3 2
Example Deal
Dealer: East
Vuln: All

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«  0022  »

Opening bid, Balanced hand, 20+ points

You need to say "I'm balanced, very strong, no problem areas, and I have the following exact strength..

  • 2NT = 20-22 HCP
  • 2club(1) then 2NT = 23-24 HCP
  • 2club(1) then 3NT = 25+ HCP"

"After my 2NT opening, respond to me if you have 4 or more HCP". 

At the very bottom of the range (20HCP), if your hand contains any weak elements, you might be better off opening 1 suit and then rebidding NT, otherwise you could end up in trouble with a 2NT opening. "Poor elements" include: 4333 distribution, no long minor, a weak doubleton, honours spread apart, lower honours in your shorter suits, a lack of 10s, adverse vulnerability.

Responses - start by trying to find a Major fit

The responses to 2NT are similar to those for 1NT. Your partner knows how many points you have, and will use all the usual systems such as Stayman, Transfers (assuming you use these), but modified in the knowledge of your point count. In addition, with the higher total point count possibilities, there are some additional stronger options avaiable to responder, see Strong twos.

Is it forcing?

Certainly 2NT is a strong opening. On the other hand, your partner is providing NO guarantee of any playing tricks, let along 8 or 9 of them. And with less than 25HCP in total, you are quite unlikely to make a game in NT. For these reasons, a 2NT opening is not forcing at all, either to game or even for one round.

With a very weak hand, fewer than 4 HCP, you should pass. At the 1NT level, responder to 1NT usually passes with fewer than 11 HCP. At the 2NT level, the translated calculation (pass with <3 HCP) is somewhat dangerous at the inevitable higher level of bidding. That's why you add a point, and pass with <4(3).

Turning to beginning players for a moment, the range of possible responses to 2NT (as with responses to 1NT) is very flexible, descriptive and interesting, with several advantages. The two most commonly used conventions are Stayman and Transfers, but as a beginner, if you don't yet use these, you will need 5+ HCP to reply, not 4+.

Anyway, for everyone else, if you have 4HCP or more, you can respond positively. Here's how...

Major fit?

You know all about Stayman after 1NT? Well, Stayman is just as useful after 2NT. That's because the probability of reaching game is somewhat higher if you play in a Major suit contract, rather than in 3NT, when you have an 8-card Major fit. So, when you have a 4-card Major, it's a really good idea to respond with a Stayman 2club in order to find out if there's a fit. 4HCP is sufficient.

For the same reasons, use transfers if you have a 5-card Major. In fact, using transfers is especially important after 2NT, since you really do not want the strong hand as dummy for the enemy to examine closely.

Responses to 23+ points

This bid is forcing for at least one round, see responses to 2club. Since you are balanced, your subsequent rebid of 2NT is not forcing. (Any other rebid is forcing to game).

With 25+ points, the rebid will be a jump raise in NT, i.e. 3NT. See strong twos and responses to strong twos.

Weak Twos

Better players will generally use weak two opening bids. This means that the Majors are weak when opened at the 2 level, with at least one of the minors (club), possibly both, being reserved solely to announce strength when opening at the two level.

Normal Acol. Open 2NT with 20-22 HCP

There's a problem with opening 2NT with only 20 points: you might miss game when partner has 4 points and you have 21-22. Your partner assumes you have 20, and passes. An alternative proposed by Ron Klinger is a modifued version of Acol (he calls it "refined")......

Modified Acol. Open 2NT with 21-22 HCP

Open 2NT with 21-22 balalnced hand. With 20 points precisely, open with a bid of 1-suit, and then jump rebid to 3NT, as if you have 19 points.

21a. Balanced hand: Opener's bids. VERSION A: STANDARD ACOL
HCP Points Opening bid 2nd bid (rebid) note
12-14 1NT    
15-16 1 suit Next available NT bid, usually 1NT, can be 2 With two 4 card suits, bid heart if you have them. Also, beware jump rebid to 2NT with 17-18 points as convention dictates - you can end up in trouble. See "Klinger" modification, 21b.
17-18 1 suit Next NT bid+1, usually 2NT, can be 3 Note the ambiguity. Bearing in mind that 3NT is game forcing, you might want to limit this bid to 2NT, and run the risk that your partner thinks you have 15-16 HCP. See sheet 21c for a better system.
19 1 suit 3NT note: 25 HCP is certain. The re-bid is game forcing.
20-22 2NT   Not forcing, partner might have <4HCP. Consider modified Acol instead, cribsheet 21b.
23-24 2club(1) Next NT bid (usually 2) 2club, if followed by 2NT is not forcing. Partner might have 0 HCP
25+ 2club(1) Next NT bid + 1 (usually 3)  
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1 For advanced players using "weak 2s" in the majors, bid 2diamond, instead of 2club.

2 With more experience, you can work out how to bend the rules.

3 There is a consequence however: sometimes you will miss a game when responder has 3 HCP and opener has22. The Ron Klinger modified Acol gets round this problem, see below.

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