- 24 -

 

INTERMEDIATE-2 BRIDGE

LESSON 11

 

THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

 

 

A. PROBLEM:  ‑ Suppose the bidding has gone.­

 

Partner          RHO      You           You hold either:      (a) XX  XX  KJ10XXX  XXX

  1NT     2H   ???                  Or                   (b) AJX  XX  AQ10XXX  XX

 

In (a) you would wish to bid 3D as a sign‑off; in (b) you would wish to bid 3D to push towards either 3NT or else 5D.   Obviously you cannot bid 3D with both (a) and (b) while, at the same time, having partner being capable of discerning the difference between the two types on circumstances.

 

Often an overcall by the opponents over your partner’s opening 1NT will prevent you from making the response you would have otherwise made in a non‑competitive auction; i.e., one without interference.   For example, one may be precluded from bidding Stayman (“2C”) due to the intervening overcall, and yet you might otherwise be interested in opener's Major suit holdings. Even natural bids, jumps, and NT raises become ambiguous after an overcall to partner's 1NT bid.

 

Obviously, several questions arise after such an overcall over your sides 1NT opening bid. Which bids by you are forcing and which are not?    Which bids are invitational?   Which bids are natural and which artificial?   How do you bid Stayman and how do you affirm or deny a stopper in the enemy suit if you are seeking a NT final contract?

 

All of these questions and ambiguities are handled by the Lebensohl Convention.

 

B.  THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION:

 

     (a)   A double is for penalties (NOT NEGATIVE)

 

        Examples:  1NT  2S  DBL.           1NT  2C  DBL.     1NT  3H      DBL.

 

 

(b)   ANY 2‑level suit bid is natural and a sign‑off

 

      Examples:   1NT  2D  2H            1NT  2C  2S       1NT  2H   2S

 

 

(c)  ANY 3‑level. suit bid is natural and game forcing and shows at least a 5‑card suit

 

Examples:  (lNT  2H  3C)      (1NT  2S  3H) (lNT  2C  3D)     (lNT  2D  3S)

 

 

 

 

 

- 25 -

 

(d)   An ARTFICIAL “2NT” response is forcing and demands opener to puppet “3C”.    

      Responder can pass if he has a weak hand in Clubs, or he can rebid as follows:  If he bids a suit    

      below the rank of the suit of the overcall, it is a sign‑off; if he/she bids a suit above the rank of the   

      enemy suit, it is invitational.  In either last case scenarios, responder has at  least a 5‑card suit.

 

               Examples:   1NT  2H  “2NT”  P                 

               “3C”   P      P (A weak hand in Clubs))

 

                1NT  2H  “2NT”  P       

 “3C”      P   3D (Sign‑off)   

 

                                        1NT  2S  “2NT”  P

                   “3C”  P    3H  (Sign-off)

 

                   1NT  2D  “2NT”  P

                  “3C”  P   3H/3S  (Invitational)

 

 (e)  A  3NT response achieved via:

 

(1)  A direct jump to 3NT over an enemy overcall shows the values for game, but denies a stopper in the opponent's suit.

 

(2)  "2NT" followed by a 3NT over partner's puppet “3C” bid shows value for game, plus a stopper in the opponent's suit.

 

(f) Stayman Convention is achieved in either of the following 2 ways:

 

(1)  A Direct cue‑bid of the opponent's overcall suit is Stayman without a stopper in the enemy’s bid suit.   It is forcing to game unless the partnership fails to find a Major suit fit and additionally lacks a stopper for 3NT.   In that rare case, opener bids 4 of his better Minor suit.

 

(2)  A “2NT” response followed by a cue‑bid of the opponent's suit over partner's forced “3C” is also Stayman, but this time with a promised stopper in the enemy suit.  Lacking a Major fit, a contract of 3NT is finalized.

 

C.  THE  DISADVANTAGE  OF  THE  LEBENSOHL  CONVENTION: ‑ The machinery of the Lebensohl convention makes it easy to avoid a NT contract when neither side has a stopper in the enemy suit.   Yet it in no way hinders the search for Major suit fits.   In addition, it clearly defines which responses are non‑forcing, and which are invitational or forcing.   To gain all this the only thing you give up is the natural meaning of the 2NT bid by responder; i.e., it precludes the ability of responder to the 1NT opening bidder to invite to 3NT by responding 2NT.   In this situation, when playing Lebensohl and, therefore, without the ability to invite, it is best to go directly to 3NT when holding invitational values.

 

Example:    1NT  2S  “2NT”   P        (AQX  KXX  JXXX  XXX)

           “3C”   P   3NT                (Showing a Spade Stopper)

   (or)

            1NT  2S   3NT             (XXX  AQX  KJXX XXX)        

                            Showing game values with NO Spade Stopper)

        

          - 25a -

 

INTERMEDIATE-2 BRIDGE

LESSON 11

 

THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

 

(Continued)

 

     Previously we presented the use of The Lebensohl Convention, used by responder, responding to a 1 NT opening bid, following an interference by responder’s RHO as seen in examples a-g.

                           1NT

        

a)            2H

 

        2S          (To Play)

Examples:          -----------------------------------

                           1NT

                 

b)            2S

 

         3H         (Game Force Showing 5 Pieces)

-----------------------------------

                           1NT

         

c)            2H

 

        3NT         (To Play evidencing 9 or more HCP’s)

-----------------------------------

                            1NT

                 

d)           2S

 

       “3S”         (Game Force - Stayman for Hearts and 

                     without a Spade Stopper)

-----------------------------------

                            1NT/”3C”

        

e)            2H/P

 

        “2NT”/3D    (Artificial - Forces “3C” - 3D to Play)

-----------------------------------

                            1NT/”3C”

                 

f)           2S/P

 

      “2NT”/”3S”    (Game Force - Stayman for Hearts but 

                     with a Spade Stopper)

-----------------------------------

                            1NT

                 

g)           2D

 

         Dbl.    (For Penalties)

-----------------------------------

 

- 25b -

 

INTERMEDIATE-2 BRIDGE

LESSON 11

 

THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

(Continued)

 

     Note: In the above-referenced use of The Lebensohl Convention, Responder is responding with partner having evidenced 15-17 HCP’s with a subsequent interference.  An almost exact circumstance evolves, with the only exception being that the order of the events taking place are reversed, occurs as follows:  West’s partner has doubled in the direct position subsequent to a pre-emptive interfering opening weak 2-Bid.

 

      Example:                2(B)

        

     ???        Dbl. (Take-out)

 

           P

 

     All of the same meanings become available to this responding partner, responding to a strong Take-out Double by partner, subsequent to a weak-2 opening pre-emptive bid by the opponent.

 

          Examples:                                   2B

        

 a. (Pass = Penalties)      ???         Dbl. (Take-out)

 

                                   P

                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                      2D

        

 b. (2H = To Play)          ???         Dbl. (Take-out)

 

                                   P

             --------------------------------------------------------

                                                       2H

        

 c. (3S = Game Force)       ???         Dbl. (Take-out)

     (with 5 Spades)

                                           P

             --------------------------------------------------------

                                                      2H

        

 d. (3H = Stayman Game)     ???         Dbl. (Take-out)

   (Force with 4 Spades)

                                           P

             --------------------------------------------------------

                                                      2S

        

 e. (2NT = Forces 3C)     ???         Dbl. (Take-out)

  

                                           P

             --------------------------------------------------------

     There are, therefore, two instances, of almost identical circumstances, for Lebensohl usage.

- 25c -

 

INTERMEDIATE-2 BRIDGE

LESSON 11

 

THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

 

(Continued)

 

 

     Modification Of Lebensohl Subsequent To A “2C” Overcall By Responder’s RHO

 

     Normally, the methodology of bidding Stayman, with a stopper in the overcall suit bid by Responder’s RHO, is to puppet through 2NT and then for Responder to bid the same suit as the overcaller, as seen in the Example to follow:

 

                          1NT/”3C”

                 

 P/               2S/P

 

      “2NT”/”3S”    (Game Force - Stayman for Hearts but 

                        with a Spade Stopper)

 

    Note, however, that this technique is stifled when the overcall suit is Clubs.

 

                          1NT/”3C”

                 

 P/               2C/P

 

      “2NT”/”4C    (Game Force - Stayman with a Club Stopper

                     but in this instance the partnership is already past 3NT should responder not find opener with a 4-card matching Major suit.)

 

     In this specific singular instance, therefore, the partnership using Lebensohl must have ready the following deviation from the norm so as to specifically cope with a Stayman attempt, game forcing bid with a Club stopper by Responder.  In this instance the bidding must proceed as follows:

                          1NT/”3C”

                 

 P/               2C/P

 

                        “2NT”/”3D    (Game Force - Stayman with a Club  

                                        Stopper (Not an invitational try in 

                                          Diamonds)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- 25d -

 

INTERMEDIATE-2 BRIDGE

LESSON 11

 

THE LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

 

(Continued)

 

Handling of Responses to NT or Stronger Bids By Partner

Subsequent to Interferences Both Before and After Partner’s Bid

 

                       N                                     N

                                          

           1NT                                   Dbl.

    

    W      (1)       E                   W       (2)        E                     

  Dealer                               Dealer             

    P                2B                  2B                 P

                       S                                     S

            

           ???                                   ???

       (Lebensohl)                           (Lebensohl)

 

 

                       N                                     N

                                         

           1NT                                   1NT

 

     

    W      (3)       E                   W       (4)       E                     

  Dealer                               Dealer             

  1C/1D              P                 1H/1S               P

                       S                                     S

            

           ???                                   ???

     (“Front of Card”)                   (All Bids are Natural)     

     (“2C” is Stayman)      (Opener’s Suit is Stayman & Transfers are Off)

    (& Transfers are On)

 

 

                       N                                     N

                                         

           2NT                                   2NT

     

    W      (5)       E                   W       (6)       E                     

  Dealer                               Dealer             

    2D               P                 2H/2S               P

                       S                                     S

            

           ???                                   ???

             (“Front of Card”)                   (All Bids are Natural)     

     (“3C” is Stayman)      (Opener’s Suit is Stayman & Transfers are Off)

    (& Transfers are On)