The Acol Strong Two is an opening bid at the two-level. It shows a hand with a nominal point count of 18-22 points: too strong for a one-level opening bid; but short of the 23+ points needed for the Two Club opener.
It is an opening bid of 2♠, 2♥, or 2♦ (the 2♣ is strictly reserved for 23+ point hands). It is Game going with the minimum of support. Launching at the two-level forces partner to respond even with no points. Opening at the one level risks a pass from partner, which would be disastrous with such a strong hand.
Generally such hands fall into three categories:
- A hand with 8 playing tricks in one suit. For example, a hand with a 7-carder and an outside ace; or a 6-carder with an outside A-K.
- A hand with two powerful suits, one of which is thought could produce 8 playing tricks with a good fit with partner.
- A hand with “shape”, falling between a one opener and a 2♣ opener, and containing 18-22 honour points. This hand would lack the 5 quick tricks required for a normal 2♣ opener.
As a matter of theory, it is worth noting that usually, in the case of types (1) and (2), if you add honour points to distributional points, the point range often matches that of type (3).
For example, a 9-carder with 8 playing tricks might be valued at 18 points on the basis of 13 high card points and 5 points for the long suit. Such hands might be:
To reiterate, the Acol Strong Two is an opening bid of spades, hearts or diamonds (never clubs) at the two level. By skipping a bidding level opener is showing strength. For example, with:
♥ A K Q J 8 5 4
♦ A 8
♣ 8 6 3
North has 14 high card points plus 3 more points for his long suit count (total 17 points). He can also consider Playing Tricks as a valuation option. With hearts as trumps North will count 7 playing tricks plus one more for the ♦A. Eight playing tricks with a strong long suit is a perfect Acol Strong Two. North opens with 2♥s:
In response the double raise to the 4-level denies an Ace or void. In the following sequence South denies an Ace or void with his 3NT response. In this case, if North is still in a position to see slam, he may press on and ask South if he has Kings, by bidding 4NT:
In both examples North’s 2♥s and 2♠s are the Acol Two opening bid. South’s responses, 4♥s and 3NT respectively, deny an Ace or a void.
In each of these three cases, if we consider the high card points the value can be lower as the suits get longer.
1] A hand with one six-carder and 18 points:
♠ A K Q J 7 5
♦ A 10 8
♣ A 8 5
2] A hand with one seven-carder and 16 points:
♠ K Q 8
♥ A K J 9 7 6 2
♦ K 9
3] A hand with one eight-carder and 14 points:
♥ K 6 3
♦ A Q J 8 7 6 5 2
♣ A 6
For these powerful hands we can use the high card points basis because of their type. All examples fall within the 18-22 point range. They are unsuitable for 2NT openers because of their unbalanced distribution.
1] A hand worth 20 points and a good five-carder:
♠ A Q 9 3 2
♥ A K 10 5
♣ A Q J
2] A hand with a minor headed by the top three honours, also with 20 points:
♥ A Q 7 4
♦ A K Q 8 4
♣ K Q 8
3] This 18-point hand boasts a worthy six carder plus 4 tricks off the top two A-Ks:
♠ K J 9 7 6 2
♦ A K 5
♣ A K 7
4] Finally another six-carder and a valuable void suit, and worth 19 points:
♠ A J 8 6 4 2
♥ A K J 3
♦ A Q 10
North as opener
♠ A K Q J 8
♥ A Q J 10 9
♦ 7 4
With 17 points and ten cards in majors North can add points for distribution and open an Acol 2♠.
South’s negative response will keep them below Game, unless they can find a 3-card fit.
With 14 points in the next hand, North can still use the Acol Strong Two because of the unusual length of the majors, both 6-carders. The void and singleton are added value.
North as opener
♠ A Q J 9 7 2
♥ A K 10 7 6 3
South can decide if Game is best in 4♠s, otherwise he will Pass.
Last updated: Monday, 21st June 2021