Quick summary

Your opponents are weak, and have tried to mess things up for you, 'cos they fear you will make a good contract. So overcall them if you can.
There are three options

  1. Double for Take-out (opening points, short in enemy's suit)
  2. Suit Overcall: 12 points at the 3 level (or 6 at the 2 level), & a 6-card suit (or v. good 5-card suit)
  3. 2NT Overcall: 16-19 points balanced-ish with a stop in enemy's suit.

Don't double for penalties if you are good in their suit! You'll confuse your partner & end up in trouble. Penalties can come later.

Stayman and Transfers: recommend you use after 2NT.

"Borrow a king" in the 4th passout seat (balancing).

Not so different from defending a weak 3 opening.


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
S J 7 6 2
H A Q 9 2
D K Q 4
C 9 7
S K 10 5 3
H 4
D A 7 3 2
C A 6 5 4
Example Deal
Dealer: South
Vuln: All

Defence to a Weak Two opening

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Advanced Convention. Weak 2 defence

continued. . ... (< back)

3. Balanced-ish and strong ? Obvious! 2NT Overcall

Over weak 2 opening bids(1) , a 2NT overcall is a natural bid, showing balanced or 'semi-balanced' hands, a stop in the enemy's suit and 16-19 HCPs. The 2NT overcall over a Weak Two shows a wider range of HCPs, because your bidding space has gone. 'Semi-balanced' ? You might have a 5-4-2-2 distribution, or even a 6-3-2-2, especially with length indiamondclub

Responding to a 2NT overcall after a weak 2 opening.
Easy. Just use any convention that you normally use after a 1NT overcall such as Transfers and (especially) Stayman. Of course, you are promising a few more points than you would with a 1NT opening or overcall.

Obviously, as with a 1NT overcall, you'll need to adjust the HCP requirements because your partner is stronger than you would plan for a standard Stayman or Transfer situation. With 8+ points or a good 7-point hand, go for game. With 6 points pass: although your partner might have 19, you would find 3NT a struggle with a 19-6 split, and he's more than 4 times more likely to have 16, 17 or 18.


After a 2heart opening bid from the enemy, what would you bid here, with such a nice diamond suit ?

Hand 6
S K Q 4  

Although you have only one stop in opponents suit, bid 2NT. It's best because it's more descriptive than 3diamond

H A 6 2
D K Q J 8 6
C Q 6

What about this one ? You're West. North has opened 2heart, and partner East overcalls 2NT What should you do ?

Pair 7
S A 9 6 2  W     E  S K Q 5 3  

With 8 points you should go for game, because 24-27 total isassured. But, rather than raising to 3NT, West could first look for a fit in spades.

H 8 6 3 H A Q 2
D K J 8 5 2 D Q 9 4
C 8 C A 7 4

If you can find a 4-4 fit it'll be better to play in a Major suit. West should bid 3club, Stayman, followed a 3spade response from partner to identify an 8-card Major fit. West should then raise to game, 4spade.

Note how much better it is to be in Spades: 3NT will be defeated by a club lead, whereas 4spade will make 11-12 tricks.

4. Other options when enemy open a weak 2

Overcalling after a Weak 2 has been raised to 3

The opposition are weak, so be aggressive and try hard to make a bid as if your were defending a weak preemptive three opening bid.

In the Fourth Seat ? Be aggressive

Bid aggressively. When you are in the ‘fourth' seat, then try your hardest to bid if a 'pass' from you would otherwise bring the auction to an end. (The same considerations apply when making a protective bid in the 'fourth seat' after a standard opening).

The auction is ending because the opponents are not strong. They are giving up at less than 'game', so they have a maximum of 23 points, most probably many fewer. So your partner must have some strength. As a result, you can bid on slightly weaker hands (about 3 points fewer than necessary, sometimes known as ‘borrowing a king'). Your poor partner will have had a reason for not bidding first time, e.g.:

  • strong, but too balanced to overcall or double;
  • strong enough for a penalty double which he couldn't bid (it would be taken as a double for take-out).


What should you (South) bid ? You're the 4th person to bid, after West opened 2heart.

Deal 8S A Q J 2 Deal: West
Vuln: none

You're South, with only nine points and probably don't feel able to bid after the enemy opening of 2heart. However, because you're in the 4th seat, the last caller, you should be aggressive. 'Put a king' in your hand and think again. With '12' points and a singleton you have the right shape and strength for a double for take out.

S J 7 6
H K Q 3
D 10 4 3
S 8 3           N S 9 7 6
H K Q 10 9 4 2  W               E H A 5 3
D 9 6 D 10 8 7 2
C Q 9 5           S C A K 8
    S K 10 5 4  
S 8
H A J 5 4
D J 7 6 2

North, who couldn't bid first round despite his 13HCP, responds in spade to South's double, being careful not to overbid, knowing that his partner may have stretched in order to bid (‘borrowed a king'). Hence the jump invitation response of 3spade, no more.

Look how difficult it is to bid with balanced hands. Although North has 13 points, he has to pass after the opening bid from West because there is no bid to describe his hand. That's why South should try hard to make a bid in the fourth seat.

(Note 1: With perfect 4441 shape you can also add points for your singleton. So, in all, you are worth 15 points (9 + 3 borrowed + 3 for the singleton = 15). Note 2: By the way, a jump response to a take-out double normally shows around 9-11 HCP, just short of enough for game after the implied doubler's opening hand).

What if North's hand were slightly different, and South's hand were identical ? Again, West opens 2heart, and South doubles. What should North do here ?

Deal 9S A Q J 6 Deal: West
Vuln: none

North has a hand that can defend against 2♥, because he holds very good trumps, so he passes his partner's double, converting it to a penalty double.

North must not double on the first round, as that would have been interpreted as a take-out double, with potentially disastrous consequences.

S K J 7 6 3
H Q 6
D 10 5
S 8 3           N S 9 7 2
H A Q 10 9 4 2  W               E H 5
D 9 3 D K 10 8 7 2
C Q 9 4           S C A K 8 3
    S K 10 5 4  
S 8
H A J 5 4
D J 7 6 2

(1) Footnote: Over normal strong opening bids at the one level, many players use the Unusual 2NT overcall, which is not at all natural, to show two 5-card suits. In the past, this bid was used to show that overcaller had 20-22HCP, balanced, but that arises so rarely and can be handled in another way.

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