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Week 0212 : 15th July 2024

LEBENSOHL CONVENTION

A convention to improve definition, originally used when partner opens 1NT and the next player overcalls in a suit at the two-level.

The basis of the convention is the use of a bid of 2NT as a conventional request for opener to bid 3♣. This then creates an extra echelon of bids — direct bids, and bids after the Lebensohl 2NT.

One sequence shows game-going values (traditionally the direct bid) whilst the other is employed on competitive hands (or invitational hands if a competitive bid in the suit was available at the two-level). By agreement, a double may show a traditional penalty double or may show a raise to 2NT.

For example if your partner opens 1NT and the next hand overcalls 2:

2♠ – natural, competitive.
2NT – asks opener to bid 3♣; usually weak with a minor or invitational with spades.
3♣/3/3♠ – game-forcing.

On both hands, you bid 2NT over the intervening 2. On the first hand, you intend to convert 3♣ to 3, which will ask partner to pass. On the second, you intend to rebid 3♠ to invite game.

Responder may also use the convention on balanced hands to show or deny a stopper in the suit overcalled or to show or deny four cards in the other major. The most logical system (though perhaps not the most widely played) is:

3NT direct – stopper in suit overcalled and no interest in other major No stopper in suit or interest in other major.
Cue bid – no stopper but interest in other major
2NT and then 3NT – stopper and interest in other major.
2NT then cue bid – no stopper but interest in other major.

Many pairs who play Lebensohl also use it after the opponents open a weak two and partner doubles for take-out.

With the first hand, you have little interest in game and so bid 2NT, Lebensohl, on the way to 3. On the second you want to show positive values without going past 3NT. You do this by bidding 3 directly.


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