Strong Three suiter using 2C

In Chapter one, most of the 2♣ opening bids and continuations were covered. One case was only mentioned: the "strong" three suiter. This post will cover how to bid with them.

Over a 2 or 2♠ game is not forced when opener shows his three suiter. Over 2♦'s, game is more likely, but not forced. In all three cases, opener starts with a 2NT rebid to show the unknown three suiter. If responder had responded with the bid of misery (2 or 2♠) then over openers 2NT rebid, all responder bids are natural, looking for a fit. So if responder rebids 3♣ opener can pass with clubs. If opener is short is clubs, he bids 3 and the auction is still alive until a fit is found.

When responder uses a semi-positive bid, game doesn't have to be bid. If responder has only one likely trick, over 2NT, he can bid 3 or 3 to show that suit and only one likely trick. Opener can pass or bid the next highest suit. But 3♠ over 2NT shows a weak 6 card suit and only one trick. However, if responder has two or more tricks, he bids 3♣ over openers 2NT rebid to start an artificial auction.

Responder is in control. He uses a series of relays to ask for the short suit and losers, then controls, then missing queens. The asking bids are always in the short suit (or 5NT if the next easiest bid to ask is 6 of the short suit). The best write up on this is on Chris's page, see

So I will summarize here, and you can go read his text/examples.

2♣ - 2 -2NT -3♣ <<=== 1st ask Over the 1st relay ask, opener bids the suit below his shortness (singleton or void) in steps. First group of steps is 4-5 losers (3 = 4/5 with short 's; 3 = 4/5 losers short ♠). Then 2-3 losers. There is one small problem you don't want to go beyond 3NT on some hands, so a 3♠ rebid by opener shows 2-3 losers and shortness in one or the other minor. Then 3NT shows 4-5 short club, etc. A second gotcha, if responder has diamonds, he should just bid 3NT over 2NT (shows diamonds) becase all the weak responses (4-5 losers) are at 3NT or lower except for the one with diamonds, which is at four clubs.

At any time, if responder bids a non-short suit it is a signoff. But responder can keep asking questions by bidding the short suit. The second question ask, how many losers (4 or 5) or (2 or 3) and how short. The steps are 1st step=most loser-singleton, 2nd step = fewest loser singleton, 3rd step = fewest losers singleton, and 4th step fewest losers void. After finding loser count and length in short suit, next rebid in short suit ask for controls. This is straight foward count. Minimum is five, so first step shows five, each step shows one more (Ace=2, K=1 control, but don't count singleton king). If opener had shown 2-3 losers, the cheapest step shows six controls.

After showing number of controls, the next question ask for cheapest suit in which the QUEEN is missing. Any skipped suit has the queen, and remember that for this asking bid you use the short suit or 5NT, which ever is lowest.

Special Sequence
2♣ - 2 2NT - 3♣ - 3♠ Remember that this three spade bid shows 2 or 3 losers and a minor short suit. Responder bids 3NT to find out what openers hand is. Opener rebids 4♣ with a short Diamond, and 4, 4H, 4S and 4NT with short club and losers (4H and 4NT show club void, 4S and 4 show three losers).

Below are some example auction. For other real world example hands and a rehash of the methods, see the following two links. Feel free to add hands you discover this method works for to either of these threads examples. Introduction to three suited 2♣ opening bid.

More example hands using three suited 2♣ opening bids

Word of caution. Chris Ryall suggest NOT using this bid with three suiter containing a five card major. I think this is a well crafted caution on MINIMUM hands you might consider opening with 2 clubs. But any 3 loser or fewer hands, you must open 2Clubs even with a five card major. And control rich four loser hands might be considered. With five losers, open these 1M.

S AQJ6 S 872
H AK63 H 75
D QJT6 D K743
C 3 C AQ84

2C 2D 2D = semi positive
2NT 3C 2NT = 3 suiter
3NT Pass 3C = at least two tricks
3NT = 4/5 loser, short club


IMP-16 altairds Dlr: South
Board 5449 S T65 Vul: None
H 864
D KJ8 2C 2D
S Q93 C KJ73 S J87 2NT 3C
H Q7 H AJ93 3D Pass
D 732 D 964
C A8642 S AK42 C Q95
H KT52

Even with this horrible minimum, 3NT wins 8 imps.


S AKQT S 832 2C 2D
H Q H 94 2NT 3D
D AK62 D T953 Pass
C QT54 C AJ83

2D=semi+ or better
2NT=three suiter
3D= one tricks, diamonds, 3C would be ask
PAss, fit found, high enough.

S AQ72 S KT4 2C 2D
H AKT4 H 95 2NT 3C
D K D J54 4C 4D
C AJ63 C KQT94 4H 6C
3C = ask
4C = short D
4D = Ask
4H = 4414, 5 losers

This is the problem hand for this method, as
you quickly run out of spade to investigate, but
with KQ of clubs and king of spades, partner
needs excellent hearts. You can hardly be off
two aces, as partner needs five controls, and
good suits with minimum hands.


IMP-19 bulent34 Dlr: North
Board 11228 S T9 Vul: Both
H 53
bob1l D J93 zely
S J643 C A96532 S 852
H AKQ976 H JT84
D T sezerc D K8642
C 87 S AKQ7 C T
H 2
D AQ75

East South West North
Pass 2C 2H Pass
3H DBL Pass 5C
Pass 6C All Pass

1-Pass = see chapter one for interference
2-DBL = takeout, shows this type hand
3-5C = reason to bid, long clubs, a useful card
(not two sueful cards, since no bid earlier
4 6C reasonable gamble.


S KQJ32 S 7
H AKT9 H Q53
D AKQ2 D T75
C C AKQ873

2C 2NT 2NT = AKQxxx or AKJxxxx or better, little else
3NT 4H 4H = suprise heart card, must be queen
6NT Pass 6NT, worth shot

3NT after 3C is to play, as REsponder has shown
his hand.

(note, Chris Ryall doesn't open show this as
three suiter, but this hand would still open
2C anyway. I don't mind having five card major
for three suiter, but do require higher standard
to open with one. Two losers is higher standard).


S K632 S T754 2C 2D
H AKQJ H 9732 2NT 3H
D D AJ5 4H
C AKQ65 C J9

3H looking for fit, warning of only 1 trick
4H one trick is enough


S AKQ7 S J62 2C 2D
H AKQ8 H J6 2NT 3D
D 3 D J9642 3NT 4S
C AT84 C K96 Pass

2D = semi+ or better
2NT = three suiter
3D = one trick, Diamonds
3NT = short D, great hand


S AK83 S JT7654 2C 2D
H Q H JT532 2NT 3H
D AKQ5 D 32 3NT 4S
C AQ92 C Pass

2D = one trick for either major
2NT = three suiter
3H = warning, weak hand (hehehe)
3NT = short heart
4S = game


S AK64 S J875 2C 2H
H KQJ3 H 874 2NT 3D
D D J982 3S 4S
C AKQ72 C 84 Pass

2H = no trick for H contract
2NT = three suiter
3D = maybe we can play in diamonds
3H = I have short diamond
3S = spades then
4S, you only need 4 spades, is that too much to ask?


S AKT4 S 876 2C 2D
H AKQ5 H T7 2NT 3C
D K643 D 85 3S 3NT
C A C K86432 4D 4S

2NT = three suiter, you know now.
3C = with clubs, ackward. Could bid 4C to
show one trick, long clubs, but risk
missing 3NT
3S = short minor, 2-3 loser
3NT = ask, partner could be
4D = 4441 with 2-3 losers
4S = hope for the best.


S AKT4 S 876 2C 2D
H AKQ5 H T7 2NT 4C
D K643 D 85 3S 4C
C A C K86432 Pass

3C (shudder, we may be in 4NT too soon)
4C = I have just clubs, and weak hand,
5C = you must have six, to King and out

S AKQT S J32 2C 2H
H AKQ2 H 543 2NT 3C
D A D 543 6C wow
C KQJT C 6543

2H = no trick for hearts
2NT in theory 2-5 losers, here lie
3C = can we play 3C?
6C = twice.


S AKJ8 S T97 2C 2H
H 3 H J98762 2NT 3H
D AK82 D T9 3S Pass
C AK95 C T7

2H = no trick for hearts
3H = four plus hearts
3S = whew, just in time

Not all hands using this method turn out wonderfully. When
responder is weak and opener has the three suiter, it is possible to get to impossible 3NT contracts or delicate 4-3 fits at the three level. The worse ones seem to be hands where opener has five losers, and responder has one winner and there is a misfit. I will show one example, plus an example of a good hand for the method below.

First the bad hand for the method. Over 2NT, opener has a choice, he can bid 3NT (anytime with diamonds afte 2NT, you have to bid 3NT since opener has short diamonds if you bid 3C, his reponse of 4C might take you past the best spot. However, with only one trick, rather than 3NT, your reply should bid 3D. This doesn't help a lot, as partner will try to correct to 3H. You are stuck, so you pass 3H, and partner plays in 4-3 fit. Realistically this should be down two. But will probably be down one. This is not going to be a good result for you, either way (it will not be as bad as reflected in the scores on this hand, as the +1000 your way at one table is not realistic).

Dlr: West
S J8 Vul: E-W
H T75
D KT652
S KQ9653 C T42 S 7
H 96 H KJ42
D 87 D AQ943
C A87 S AT42 C 953
H AQ83
East South West North
Pass 2C
Pass 2D Pass 2NT
Pass 3D Pass 3H
All Pass

2NT = three suiter
3D = warning, one trick, I have diamonds
3H = I have hearts, 4/5 losers, short diamond
Pass = yuck. I know we are too high.

# Contr Ld Tr Score Pts
1 3DX W CK 5 1100 14.13
2 1NX W CJ 5 500 7.80
3 3N E C2 6 300 4.00
4 2S E C2 6 200 1.67
5 2S E C2 6 200 1.67
6 1N S DA 9 150 0.47
7 2N N SK 8 120 -0.07
8 2S E HT 7 100 -0.93
9 2S E CT 7 100 -0.93
10 2S E C2 7 100 -0.93
11 1C N D8 8 90 -0.93
12 2N N S6 7 -50 -4.47
13 3H N D8 8 -50 -4.47
14 2H N SQ 7 -50 -4.47
15 3N N D8 7 -100 -5.73
16 2H N D8 5 -150 -6.80

Next a good hand for the method. Note in this example,
not one pair out of 16 even found hearts as a trump suit (disaster for matchpoints). And quite a few overreached to 6 clubs off two aces. Look at the suggested auction.

IMP-15 Dlr: East
S KJ32 Vul: None
H 6542
D 6
S A954 C T643 S QT876
H 93 H AT7
D T7543 D J82
C A2 S C 75

South West North East
Pass 2D Pass 2NT
Pass 3H Pass 4S
Pass 5C Pass 5H

2NT = three suiter
3H = one trick warning, hearts
4s = Exclusion keycard blackwood
5C = 0 key cards outside of SPADES*

*note this 4S is funny 6 Keycard ask,
three aces, three kings So if opener was
-- KQJ9 AKQ9 AQJxx, and responders spade
king was club king, slam would be bid
as the club king would be shown in the
steps. Simple, huh?

Opening lead: H9 Result: Made 5
Score: 150

# Contr Ld Decl Tr Score Pts
1 6DX W HA 7 -1100 -15.67
2 6CX E SA 11 -100 -6.27
3 6CX E SA 11 -100 -6.27
4 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
5 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
6 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
7 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
8 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
9 3C E CA 11 150 -0.87
10 1C E H9 11 150 -0.87
11 2H E D3 11 200 0.67
12 5C E H9 11 400 4.93
13 5C E D3 11 400 4.93
14 5C E D3 11 400 4.93
15 3DX S C6 06 500 7.07
16 5CXX E H3 11 800 11.73


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, I like the 3-suited 2C bid but (unless I missed it) it seems that you have a whole level available for invitational responder bids.

Have you contemplated using something like:

2C : 3C - invitational Brozel (clubs & hearts)
2C : 3D - same but diamonds & hearts
2C : 3H - invitational, majors
2C : 3S - invitational, spades and a minor

The term "invitational" would have to be defined within the context of your system... I'd say (7)8-10 maybe.


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