Major Suit Raises: Forcing Raises


Strong Raises: Jacoby 2NT

Any hand that's stronger than a limit raise, (13+ points), with a four card (or longer) fit, may be described using the Jacoby 2NT convention. You can't bid 3 of partner's suit because it's not forcing and they might pass. You need to force to game, and possibly slam.

The Jacoby Convention, i.e. a response of 2NT to an opening bid of 1♠ or 1♥, shows a game-forcing four + card raise of the major suit and asks for a further description of opener’s hand. You can't use 2NT as natural any longer (it used to mean a balanced hand of 13-15 points wanting to play in no trumps). The idea of Jacoby is that with the right information you might reach a good slam in your suit. 

What's the "right" information?

Finding that hands match well mean you could reach a good slam with far fewer than 33 points. You need to know if your shortages are "working", meaning that if you discover that partner has a singleton or void, you should check what you have opposite that. Jacoby allows you to do this.  Responder needs 13+ points to use Jacoby 2NT, and the hand does NOT need to be balanced. It's just forcing to at least game. 

You also need four trumps at least. With enough strength for game, but only three trumps, responder can make a delayed game raise, i.e. bidding a new suit and showing the support for opener's suit next. e.g. partner opens 1♠ and it is passed to you
♠ AK5
You have 16 high card points and three card support. It's better to bid 2♣ first and then show the spade support next. 

But if you held
♠ AK54
you could use 2NT with your four-card fit, and that would be asking partner about their strength and shape. 

Note that the Jacoby 2NT is used only in response to major-suit opening bids, 1♥ or 1♠. When partner opens the bidding 1♦ or 1♣ you are usually looking for a major-suit fit, or to play in no trumps, before agreeing to play with the minor suit as trumps

Opener’s rebid after Jacoby 2NT

Opener shows shape regardless of the strength of the hand – either a singleton or void in a side suit or a two-suited hand

  • To bid a new suit at the 3-level shows a singleton or void e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p 3♦ shows a shortage in diamonds, but doesn't reveal the strength of the hand

  • To jump to the 4-level in a new suit shows at least five cards in that suit, and a very good suit e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p 4♦ = a second suit

  • To bid the agreed trump suit shows no singleton or void and opener describes their strength. Jump to game with a minimum (12-15), e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p 4♥ and with a better hand, (16+), rebid the trump suit at the three level e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p 3♥.

After opener has described the hand, responder can decide whether to try for slam (by cue bidding their controls or showing their shortages), or just to play in game. It's important that if responder has a minimum hand of around 13 points, don't encourage partner after the Jacoby Convention, just go straight to game. 

The Principle of Fast Arrival applies here too: because both partners know they are in a game force after Jacoby, going quickly to game shows nothing extra,
e.g. 1♥ p 2NT p 4♥ (opener has a minimum) or 1♥ p 2NT p 3♦ p 4♥ (responder has a minimum). 


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Don't forget to share your answers, or post any questions about this lesson in the comments below! - Joan