The beginning of weak two-bids dates back to the 1920s, but it was not until the 1940s that they became popular. In fact, most players learned that an opening bid at the two level was a hand too strong to open at the one level.

As the evidence began to build that very few hands actually qualified for a strong opening two bid, and that many, many hands did qualify for a preemptive bid, which would upset the opponents, the weak two bid became a viable alternative to the strong two bid.

The weak two bid is now the norm for most players. Opening bids of 2D, 2H and 2S are limited preemptive bids that describe opener’s high card points, hand pattern and the offensive and defensive potential of the hand.

When playing weak two bids, the artificial 2C bid is used for all strong opening hands.

Weak two bids and weak three bids are much alike, but you need a six-card suit to open a weak two bid and a seven card suit to open a three bid. Both require fewer than 10 points and both are obstructive to the opponent, making it hard for the enemy to bid accurately.

The advantages of the weak two bid: It allows the opener to describe a very specific hand, one that is weak in honor count but strong in distribution; it helps partner to judge your side’s trick-taking potential; it interferes with the opponents’ ability to find their best contract; and, if you must defend, it steers the opening lead in the right direction – provided, of course, you resist the detrimental tendency to open trash.

The disadvantages of the weak two bid: It can preempt your side rather than the opponents and prevent you from finding the best fit; the opponents are listening and know your points and hand pattern.

But, overall weak-two bids are a very sensible approach to bidding when used properly. When abused, they can be dangerous and damaging to your partnership.

Have you heard any of these views about weak two bids?:

• Always have two of the top three honors or three of the top five

• Never have an 11-point hand

• Never open a weak two with a 4-card major

• Never open a weak two with a void

• Never have an outside 5-card suit

• Always respond to preemptor with an opening hand

• Never bid again after you make a weak two-bid.

Now, what two words rarely enter a bridge discussion? “Always” and “never.”

As you explore weak two bids, you will discover which of the above “never” and “always” options work for you and your partner.

Let’s try a few:

Your partner opens 2H; what do you say?

1. AK84 K83 4 KQJ62

2. 3 AJ75 Q32 98752

3. AQ8763 4 KJ4 Q97

4. AQ84 3 QJ54 KJ54

Dr. Kathie Walsh, an ABTA teacher of the year, teaches all levels of bridge at Hilton Head Island Bridge Club.