2NT is seldom a great contract. There's always a chance of making nine tricks on a good split or misdefence and picking up that all-important game bonus. And the penalty for going down two instead of one is small in comparison. For that reason, a natural 2NT should really only be a constructive bid, looking for game. Unfortunately, too many players use it as a crutch, feeling obliged to find a second bid with their 10-12 points even when it's clear that there is no game on the cards.
Playing online recently (handy as the hand records and auctions remain visible to allow the budding poorbridge.com writer to scrawl notes), I found myself partnering somebody whose use of the 2NT bid was a little overenthusiastic. His self-rating was "Advanced", the same as mine, so we should have some form of understanding, but problems arose on the first hand together.
With everyone playing SAYC (as is the norm on BBO), the auction goes as follows. Let's analyse the bids and perhaps grade them for poorness:
|(1)||I had the option to make a Michaels 2 cue bid, but many partners get overly excited upon hearing these. Instead I elected to make a simple overcall. I can protect with 2 later, or pass and hope the undisclosed bad splits hamper oppo in the play. Fairly neutral: Grade C|
|(2)||Aggressive when vulnerable, but unlikely to be doubled into game. Opponents have shown they hold half the points, so partner shouldn't get excited. Maybe unwise on the first hand with a new partner: Grade C-|
|(3)||Pass is obviously correct. Without the balance of points and no source of tricks, 2NT cannot hope to make. Grade D-|
|(4)||Forgetting the first rule of holes (when you're in one, stop digging), this isn't a good choice. Grade D|
|(5)||Partner misinterprets my rescue from a poor contract as a sign of strength and helps with the shovelling. Grade F|
|(6)||Where did that JCB come from? Grade F-|
|(7)||I hazard that I might be able to scramble for nine tricks on a cross-ruff if partner has hard values, so avoid bidding 5 (5X will score better than 4XX if we make fewer than nine tricks)|
The play is unimportant, but I made seven tricks when the third round of clubs was overruffed and went for 1600. This was not good on a partscore board.
Later came two classic examples where partner felt the urge to bid 2NT rather than obey the fundamental rule of bridge: "when you've fully described your hand, let partner make the decision".
It's hard to know what to do over 2NT because this sequence shouldn't come up. We may simply have eight tricks, so I pass. 3NT makes when the singleton
A allows my
J to be used as an entry to the established hearts, but partner ignores this (unlikely) line and makes exactly eight tricks.
I'm not sure about East's first double, but with a similar hand to the previous board I once again rebid my decent six-card heart suit, especially since I know we have fewer than half the points and 1NTX rates to go off. Partner's having none of it and tries 2NT. Having doubled 1NT, you might have thought that East would double 2NT, but he leaves it alone (presumably because 2NTX is game). It goes 3 off.
At this point, I am berated by partner for twice bidding and rebidding hearts with no outside entries!