2 Spades

Bridge: Two level openings

Two spades as "Muiderberg"

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Weak: 5+ in spades, and 4+ in a minor

This early page was updated in 2014

Here in UK, weak two bids showing 5+/4+ in suit bid+another are termed "Lucas" two's. While such a loose style is quite playable, games may be missed as the pre-empt may, or may not, contain 4 cards in an unbid major?

Major two openings with undefined minor side suit (only) were developed independently by Onno Janssens and Willem Boegem of Holland, and by Alan Woo of London, and later by my own partnership. (In my own case this was a ruse to keep partner from pre-empting on the sterile 5332 shape!)

5/4 pre-empt styles are increasingly seen in UK tournaments, and seem to be ubiquitous in Holland. The name "Muiderberg" comes from Onno's home village, near Amsterdam.

Advancing Muiderberg is made more interesting in that the minor is unknown. In terms of playing in spades this often doesn't matter, as either length or shortness may be helpful. However sometimes partner will have few spades and his own long suit. I found Lebensohl provides an ideal escape route, as well as other benefits.


Responses based on lebensohl

note Opposite 2S Muiderberg
  • 2S - 2NT = Lebensohl "puppet to 3C" (see below)
  • 2S - 3C = pass/correct to play in the minor
  • 2S - 3D = "a game try in spades"
  • 2S - 3H = natural and forcing
  • 2S - 3S = tempo raise. Generally opener should then "leave it to parner"
  • 2S - 3NT is to play
  • 2S - 4S = it may be sound, it may be sacrifice!

link: paradox responses When a weak Lebensohl escape is in progress there are interesting consequences. Partner usually has few spades and a long suit. This means that the ParadoX approach works really well. With a black 2-suiter - ignore the puppet and "paradoxically" bid the suit you don't hold 3D! If partner has a long red suit you play there or in hearts. If he has 6 clubs you are safe (and in competitive terms better) at the 4 level. It always works.

In practice this scheme works fine in other situations, with responder calling say 4S or 3NT having found out partner's minor. Or you can use Lebensohl to extend your types of raise. Up to you. I have found at the table that you need both a way to squirm in to partner's minor when short in spades, and a way to assert your own weak, long minor. Lebensohl offers both. and 2 ways to assert hearts as well!

When opponents intervene

Over double (t.o) my partner prefers 2NT as asking for the minor (also were x=penalty!) and 3C/D are then simple takouts. 3H and 4C/D seems best as lead directing with spade support. 3S just is to get in the way rather than consultation.

I like redouble as involving partner in a penalising opponents - ie it sets up forcing passes etc. As always any tournament partnership should have these situations well discussed in advance

Should opponents call a suit we double for penalties (as after any preempt) and most bids imply spades support. In a special situation 4NT over their 4H would seek the minor.

Muiderberg salt marches
Muiderberg is a small Hamlet east of Amsterdam, on the south coast of Holland's 'Ijsselmeer' inland sea. This salt march picture from the www.landscapes.nl/ site.

I went on a jolly to Amsterdam with my partner Joan Marray. The only Dutch player I knew was Henk Uiterwaal of r.g.b. We had trouble finding a hotel and ended in the Hotel Brouwer near the center. Quite incredibly this turned out to be run by Willem. We now go back to a nice family establishment, very traditional and well recommended. "Those poor folk at the "Hilton".

There are some more Muiderberg links in the main Archive section.

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