Various Ideas Of The Two Spade Bid

Every game of the Whist family has some point upon which experts

disagree, and which, consequently, produces apparently interminable


In Auction, it is the two Spade bid, and no less than four recognized

factions have widely divergent views concerning it. These views may be

briefly stated as follows:--

(a) With the border-line No-trumpers now in vogue, a hand not

strong enough to bid No-trump is too weak to warrant any call but

one Spade. The two Spade bid is, therefore, useless and should

never be made.

(b) The two Spade bid should be used as a No-trump invitation

with any hand not quite strong enough to justify a No-trump call.

Having this meaning it does not matter whether the hand contain any

Spade strength.

(c) The two Spade bid should be used as a No-trump invitation,

but must also give the additional information that the hand

contains at least one trick in Spades.

(d) The two Spade bid should be used to tell the partner that

the hand has the high-card strength to bid one Royal, but not

sufficient length. It thus becomes either a No-trump or Royal


All these systems have their advocates, most of whom refuse to see

merit in any plan but their own. It is only fair, however, before

reaching a definite conclusion to accord to all a fair and

dispassionate consideration.


The argument that, as long as light No-trumpers are conventional, any

hand not sufficiently strong to call No-trump is too weak to justify

declaring more than one Spade, has considerable force. Beyond question,

many followers of plans "b" and "c" call two Spades when their

holdings do not warrant such action, but the fact that a declaration is

at times abused is far from being a sufficient reason for wiping it off

the Auction map, and saying to those who desire to use it rationally,

"No, because some players see fit to make this bid with two Knaves and

a Queen, it is not safe to allow you the privilege of using it sanely,

wisely, and at the appropriate time."

The supporters of "a," however, go further, and say that the hands in

which a No-trump cannot be called, but with which the invitation should

be extended to the partner to bid it, are so rare that the retention of

the two Spade call merely encumbers the catalogue of the Declarer with

a bid that is practically obsolete.

This, if it be true, would be most convincing, but it is so surprising

a statement that it should be examined before being accepted.

Every hand that class "d" would bid two Spades would be similarly

called by "b" and "c," and at least ninety-nine per cent. of

expert Auction players concede that such a bid is sound. For example:--

Spades Ace, King, Knave

Hearts X, X, X, X

Diamonds X, X, X

Clubs Ace, Queen, X

has strength which deserves, if possible, to be shown.

This is merely a sample of a hand which would be a Royal, if length in

Spades accompanied the strength. Such hands come within the "d"

classification, and are not rare. This must be admitted when it is

considered that three- or four-card suits are much more frequently held

than suits of greater length. Therefore, two Spades should be bid more

often than one Royal. With the single exception of No-trump, Royals is

the call most frequently played; consequently, as a preliminary call,

two Spades must be used more constantly than any declaration, except


Experience bears out this argument, and it, therefore, seems that the

"a" allegations are not supported by examination.

It is obvious that the more original calls with which it is possible to

equip a Dealer, the more accurately can he distinguish for the benefit

of his partner between the different classes of holdings. It therefore

seems absurd to contend that the bid of two spades should be



The argument presented by the "b" school is also at first quite

convincing. Take such a hand as

Spades X, X, X

Hearts Ace, X, X

Diamonds King, Knave, X

Clubs Knave, X, X, X

It is just too weak for a No-trump, but at first glance seems too

strong for a Spade.

Why, however, should it be too strong for a Spade? It is under the

average, which means the holding of the partner must be quite a bit

better than the average to get one odd. If he have such a hand he will

declare it in any event, and the dealer can then help. Furthermore,

this system does not point out any one suit as stopped, and, therefore,

gives the minimum degree of information. It is practically saying, "I

bid half a No-trump." It is quite doubtful whether the holding

essential for such a bid can be properly limited and whether it will

not tempt bidding with too great weakness.

Furthermore, it must be taken out. The Third Hand cannot allow his

partner to play two Spades, and if he be weak, all he can do under this

system is to call three Spades, which only makes matters worse, as it

is sure to be doubled, and the dealer must in turn take that out. To do

this with the hand above cited, he must either call two Clubs with four

to a Knave, or one Diamond with three to the King, Knave.

The trouble is evident--the result apt to be unfortunate. If the

partner with average strength accept such a No-trump invitation, the

contract cannot be fulfilled; while if he be strong, he will bid in any

event, so where is the advantage of the call?

For one purpose, however, this system of bid seems sound. If the dealer

be a poor player and the Third Hand an expert, it is for the benefit of

the partnership that the Third Hand be the Declarer. When the Dealer

holds a real No-trumper, but wishes his partner to become the Declarer,

the two Spade,--not invitation, but command,--has real merit, but as

few players either concede their own inferiority or are willing to

allow their partners to play a majority of the hands, this apparent

argument in favor of the plan will not appeal to many, and will,

therefore, seldom prove of service.


This comes nearer being logical, as it shows one Spade trick, and,

therefore, indicates help for a partner's Royal, but with that

exception, it is subject to the same objections as "b." It is

troublesome to take out, and when compared with "d" gives extremely

limited information.

It may, however, be of distinct advantage for a player who does not

approve of light No-trumpers. Followers of the theory that the call

of one No-trump means four or five sure tricks will certainly find

"c" or even "b" an advantageous system, but the advantage of

"getting to the No-trump first" is so manifest that the light

declarations have become generally popular, and but few of the

"I-will-not-declare-unless-I-have-the-'goods'" bidders are now to be


If a player believe in calling No-trump with the minimum strength now

considered sufficient, he has little use for either "b" or "c."

It is self-evident that "c" cannot be used as often as "b," so the

Declarer who likes always to say something will prefer "b," but the

bidder who wishes, when he calls, to have distinct value attached to

his announcement, will elect in favor of "c" rather than "b," and

for the same reason will find "d" the best system of all.


It is toward this system that the evolution of modern bidding is

turning. True, two Spades cannot be declared as frequently when "d"

is used as when "b" or "c" is employed, but the "d" bid conveys

information so comprehensive and important that one call is of greater

value than several "b" or "c" bids, which, at best, furnish the

partner with indefinite data.

It makes the weakness take-out of the partner, namely, one Royal, easy

and logical, and in every way seems the soundest, safest, simplest, and

most conducive to game-winning of all the plans suggested.

It invites equally the two most important declarations, makes easy the

position of the partner when he holds long, weak Spades, and is

doubtless destined, in a short time, to be the only two-Spade system

in use, unless it be found advisable to include in the repertory of

the original declarer both "b" and "d."

This can be readily accomplished by calling two Spades for "b"; three

Spades for "d"; and four Spades for the combination hereinafter

given, for which the declaration of three Spades is suggested.

No serious objection can be advanced to this plan, except that it is

somewhat complicated, and for a light No-trump bidder, possibly

unnecessary. It is a totally new idea, but believed to be of sufficient

value to entitle it to a trial.

As it is impossible to declare or play intelligently when any doubt

exists between partners regarding the convention employed, and as it is

wise not to follow unsound theories, no further reference will be made

to "a," "b," or "c" plans. The "d" system will be fully

described, and all suggestions that hereinafter appear will be based

upon the supposition that it is being used.

Variations Vingt-un Or 21 facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail