Jacoby 2NT - Don't Play It

Jacoby 2NT – Why NOT TO Play it


The following quote is from Max Hardy, from his definitive book, “Advanced Bridge Bidding for the 21th Century”. This book and his “Standard Bridge Bidding for the 21st Century”, SQueeZe Books, NYC, 2002, are highly recommended.


“The Jacoby Two NoTrump is an excellent convention.  Unfortunately it is not put to the best advantage in most partnerships.  When responder uses this convention and holds only the values of an opening bid, if slam is to be reached it must be opener who has considerable extra values.  Usually this is not the case, and the auction stops at game after opener has told the defenders things which will not help the bidding side at all, but will aid the defense.


When opener does have the extra values which might lead to a slam contract, the captaincy has been assumed by the wrong hand. The lesser hand of the responder is asking about the better hand of the opener. The tail is wagging the dog. Surely this cannot be the correct way for the auction to unfold.  The hand that has extra values should be the captain, with the lesser hand describing. This can only happen when . . . responder’s values [are] 16+ HCP . . .”



Jacoby 2NT Conventional Response

Although not recommended by the author and many experts, most 2 / 1 players use the Jacoby 2NT response to show a strong, game-forcing raise of a 1 or 1♠ opening. It's off in competition, such as [ [1 - P - 2  -  …]. There are variations, but this is the most common meaning of various sequences after a major suit opening:

First Response: 2NT.  Alertable.  This call shows 4 trumps with at least an opening hand but without useful shape; i.e., not a 2/1 Game Force 5+ card side-suit and no splinter bid available.  It asks opener to show any shape or additional values. (This is the primary flaw in Jacoby 2NT, as this tells the defenders what's in the closed hand.)


Opener's Rebids:

- 4 of the major = no interest in slam, minimum hand, no useful shape.

- 3NT = 14 or 15 HCP, no useful shape, may be passed to play NoTrump rather than the major.
- 3 of the major = 6 trumps, minimum values, no useful shape
- 3 of another suit = a singleton or void, i.e., useful shape.
  [1 - P - 2NT  -  P    3 …]
- 4 of another suit = a 2nd good 5-card suit.  [1 - P - 2NT  -  P    4 …] Also has a short suit.

- 4NT = Blackwood of whatever flavor the partnership uses.  [1 - P - 2NT  -  P    4NT …]


Alternatives to Jacoby 2NT, showing strong trump support and an opening-strength hand.


Suited hands: Playing Two Over One, there are many options, the simplest being any 2-level suit bid, followed by a jump to game or higher in the major on the second round.


Flat Hands: A 2NT conventional raise (see NT Responses to Major Openers above) showing an opening hand with exactly 2 trumps and no worthwhile 5-card suit.  Alertable and not forcing.


A 3NT conventional raise (see NT Responses to Major Openers above) showing an opening hand with 4 trumps or three strong trumps (ªAKJ, for example, or ªKQx).  Alertable and not forcing.  
Distributional Hands:
A Splinter convention bid (see the Splinter Lesson), showing a void or singleton in the bid suit and a strong trump raise in an opening-strength hand.