Lebensohl after opponents open a weak 2 and we double

by Bill Stoltey


Lebensohl is a system for dealing with direct seat interference after our side opens 1NT.


The name is also used to describe a framework for responding to partner’s double after the opponents open a weak two.  This is what we are going to discuss today.


Finally, the name is applied to a 2NT rebid by responder after partner’s reverse.


The common thread is that a 2NT bid by responder requests that opener (or doubler) rebid 3.


Origins – the convention probably first appeared in the late 1960’s, but unlike Blackwood, Jacoby etc, nobody named Lebensohl emerged as the inventor.  Ken Lebensold declined any credit.  Augie Boehm and his father George were early users of it.



Why lebensohl?


Suppose the bidding goes

(2) – DBL – (P) – 3;

(P) – ?

They open a weak 2, you double and your partner (the “advancer”) bids 3.  You hold

52   AK74   AJ53   KQ2


Not bad – 17 points, 4 quick tricks and very nice hearts.  Should you raise to game?

If partner has

873   Q982   KQ8   J64

you’re in good shape -- 4 looks very reasonable.


But suppose he has

J7   Q962   984   9754

Your partner again has an obvious 3 bid.  But this time in 4 doubled, you will probably go down 2 or 3.


Advancer’s point range is just too great – 0 to 10 or so.  That is where lebensohl over a weak 2 comes in.



What is lebensohl over a weak 2?

1.    If the weak 2 suit is diamonds or hearts, at 2-level bid by advancer is weak and to play.

2.    A 2NT response by advancer asks doubler to bid 3 so advancer can pass or set the final contract (or invite in a higher-ranking suit).

3.    A 3-level new suit by advancer (non-jump) is constructive and shows 8-10 HCP.

4.    All other bids by advancer below game are forcing.



Assume for the following hands the bidding has gone

(2) – DBL – (P) – ?


Advancer has a weak hand – 0-7 points and has 4+ cards in a higher suit than the weak 2 suit

K974   52   J753   J92

Advancer bids 2.  Any 2-level suit bid is to play.  This is not an option if the weak 2 suit is spades.


Advancer has a weak hand – 0-7 points and his suit is lower-ranking than the weak 2 suit 

J5   Q962   1098   9754

Advancer bids 2NT, passes his partner’s 3, and hopes he doesn’t get doubled!  Of course if his 4-card suit was diamonds, he would correct to 3.



Advancer has an intermediate hand – 8 to 10


Advancer bids his 4-card major or best suit at the 3 level (unless this bid is a jump).

A82   98   QJ953   Q92

3 -- this shows about 8 to 10 HCP.  This bid is not forcing, but it is constructive.


Advancer has an intermediate hand – 8 to 10 and has 4 cards in a higher suit than the weak 2 suit

A982   98   1053   AJ92

Advancer bids 2NT – after partner responds 3, he will then rebid 3 showing 4+ spades and intermediate values.  This bid is not forcing.


Notice that advancer now has 3 point ranges he can show – 0-7, 8-10, and game-going.  However if a 2-level suit bid is not available (eg after a 2 weak 2), the 0-7 range must be shown at the 3-level after going through 2NT.



When doubler is loaded, i.e. 8-8.5 tricks, or 19-20 HCP, he will show this by not rebidding 3 after 2NT.  A bid other than 3 shows this kind of hand.  With no help at all, advancer should pass this bid.  If doubler’s rebid is a cue bid of the weak 2 suit, this shows a hand that would have opened 2.



Advancer has a good hand – 11 good points and up


If advancer holds a good hand of 11+ and up, he either bids game or makes a forcing bid:

AK74   52   AJ53   J92

3 -- forcing jump, which allows partner some room to correct if he doesn’t want to play 4.


AK7   A8   J953   J92

If the partnership plays western cues, this is a good time for it.



When the weak 2 suit is diamonds, that means both majors should be explored when advancer has a good hand.  This may take priority over the western cue (by partnership agreement).

(2) – DBL – (P) – ?


Now a cue bid by advancer might show 4-4 in the majors in case doubler has only one 4-card major:

Doubler:    AK72   A86   8   J8752

Advancer:    Q1085   KJ83   J73   AQ

This is ideal for a cue bid by advancer and doubler should bid 3 of his 4-card major.  Advancer will raise to 4.


If  advancer has only one 4-card major and 13HCP, he will jump in that suit (forcing).



Remember: in general, a takeout double in balancing seat can be a couple of points weaker than in direct seat – although the same rules are followed, doubler’s partner should be aware of the possibility.






The bidding has gone:


(2) – Double – (Pass) – ?


1.  J982  973  A108  1087

2.  102  42  A1082  98762

3.  K1082  K8  876  QJ76

4.  AK52  42  1098  AQJ7

5.  K10  84  J98  AKQJ98


(2) – Double – (Pass) – ?


6.  J982  973  A108  1087

7.  A982  Q973  10  A1063







For additional information, use a Search engine on   lebensohl weak 2    (and) lebensohl over weak 2


Looking at other sites provides a wealth of additional suggestions.







1.  2 -- weak hand, best suit

2.  2NT – then pass if pard rebids 3

3.  2NT – then rebid 3 showing 4+ spades and intermediate values

4.  3 -- jump -- game force

5.  3 -- western cue!


(2) – Double – (Pass) – ?


6.  2 -- weak hand, best suit

7.  3 -- just enough for a game force – should find a nice fit.