1. What is Benjamin?
2. Strong Opening Two-Bids and Responses
     2.1 Strong No Trump Openers, Responses and Rebids
     2.2 Strong Two Suit Openers, Responses and Rebids
3. Weak Opening Two-Bids and Responses
4. Weak Jump Overcalls
5. Competing With Weak Two’s

1. What is Benjamin?

Benjamin is used for opening Two-Bids and can also be used for jump overcalls. The basis of Benjamin in its simplest form is that you open 2 or 2 or you jump overcall in hearts or spades based on a 6-card suit and a point count of 6 - 10 honour points. Since the opening 2 and 2 bids are no longer available for a standard Acol Suit Two Opener, the Acol Suit Two Opener for any of the four suits uses the bid 2 , but this requires 8.5, not 8, playing tricks. The standard Acol Strong 2 bid is replaced in Benjamin by 2. Strong even distribution hands are slightly different in Benjamin; a 2NT opener is 19 - 20 honour points and a 2 opener followed by a 2NT rebid shows an even distribution hand with 21 - 22 honour points.

2.  Strong Opening Two Bids, Responses and Rebids

With Benjamin, the Strong Opening Two Bids are as follows:-

2.1 Strong No Trump Openers, Responses and Rebids

All Benjamin 2NT Openers are handled similarly to Standard Acol 2NT Openers. This applies to the three kinds of 2NT opening bids - 2NT (19 - 20 points), 2 - 2 - 2NT (21 - 22 points) and 2 - 2 (the ‘Herbert’ weak response) - 2NT (23 - 24 points).

Whatever conventional responses are used in standard Acol over these 2NT opening bids can equally be used with Benjamin, such as Stayman or Puppet Stayman, Transfers, etc.

As in Standard Acol, if partner makes a positive response to a 2 or 2 opening bid, then any bid over a 2NT rebid by Opener is natural, not conventional. So a sequence 2 - 2 - 2NT - 3 would not be Stayman but would be a natural suit and 2 - 2 - 2NT - 3 would be natural, not a Transfer to 2 .

Similarly, a raise of any of the 2NT Openers to 4NT would be an invitation to 6NT (respond 6NT with maximum or pass) and a raise to 5NT would be an invitation to 7NT (respond 7NT with maximum and 6NT with minimum).

2.2 Strong Two Suit Openers, Responses and Rebids

The 2 bid has two possibilities:-

The 2 opening bid is the equivalent of the Standard Acol 2 opening hand. The negative response to this is 2 - the ‘Herbert’ convention.

In responding to a 2 or 2 opener with a positive hand, you should only bid a suit if it is very sound - otherwise respond in no Trumps at the appropriate level:-

After partner has responded negatively (2 - 2 or 2 - 2 ), opener should rebid as follows:-

Subsequent bidding is the same as Standard Acol.

3. Weak Two Openers, Responses and Rebids

As described earlier, the Benjamin opening bids of 2 and 2 show a 6 - 10 honour point hand and a 6-card suit. A few other points are:-

If responder has a weak or moderate hand but has at least 3-card support, there tends to be a general rule that you raise to the 3-level with 3-card support and raise to the 4-level with 4-card or more support. This has very good pre-emptive effect and the contract may even make with a moderate hand! But take vulnerability into account before bidding.

If responder is sufficiently strong to consider a game (or more) contract, there is a conventional response of 2NT (OGUST), which is asking Opener the strength of his hand and the quality of his trump suit. The responses to this conventional 2NT enquiry are:

Subsequent bidding is natural.

A minimum bid in a new suit (e.g. 2 - 3 ) denies support, is natural and forcing for one round showing a very good suit - say AQJxx, or KQJxx, or a six-card suit headed by decent honours. This bid should be based on a very strong hand as you are showing interest in game and partner may have only 6 points. Opener’s rebids are then:-

4. Weak Jump Overcalls

Benjamin Weak Two’s can also be used as overcalls as they have the same pre-emptive value, but they are used for all suits, not just in the majors, e.g. 1 - 3 . This bid shows a 6-card suit headed by at least a Queen and 6 - 10 points. However, caution should be used, as a vulnerable doubled contract could be very expensive - especially if the opponents are non-vulnerable. Responses by partner to a weak jump overcall are natural:-

As a weak jump overcall raises the bidding high and exposes the bid to a penalty double, this risk can be reduced by playing a variable strength jump overcall, typically:-

Subsequent bidding is as described for overcalls above, with judgement applied for the varying strengths.

5. Competing With Weak Two’s

If the opponents open a Benjamin Weak Two, double is for take-out, an overcall is natural based on a decent 5-card suit, and No Trump overcalls are natural. The point count requirement for these bids is a only a little higher than for the bids over a 1-level opening, a sound rather than borderline bid or double. The point count doesn’t need to be elevated significantly to call over the 2-level bid - Weak Two’s are there to disrupt us, and the bidder only has 6 - 10 points anyway!

A double is for take-out, but can be left in for penalties. Responses to the double are Lebensohl:-

Responses to partner’s overcall of a Weak Two are:-

With strong hands and stoppers in the opponent’s Weak Two suit, the following No Trump overcalls are made:-

If opponents make a weak jump overcall, then a double is for penalties. If you are considering doubling a Weak Jump Overcall, remember that they may be playing variable strength jump overcalls with up to 14 points or more!