Is the unpopular 2♦️, game forcing, doomed to disappear soon? Not sure! We can continue to use it together with 2♣️, semi-forcing, in an efficient way, provided that some adjustments are made. After 2♣️, the natural rebid of 2♥️ must be the preparation for either a semi-forcing or a game forcing bid. Follow us with close attention and you will soon be convinced!
1. The different systems
Diamonds are the unwanted suit of our system, the one that often makes our lives difficult. A 5 5 response to a 4NT inquiry is less pleasant than 5♣️, and 1♦️-1♥️-3♦️ is more difficult to deal with than 1♣️-1♥️-3♣️. The answers to a 2♦️ opening bid unfortunately raise the bidding level whereas a 2! opening brings much more flexibility.
Under these conditions, some have chosen to reverse the two strong openings, 2♣️ and 2♦️, 2♣️ becoming game-forcing and 2♦️ semi-forcing. Others have started to use 2♣️ as a catch-all, covering game forcing hands as well as semi-forcing ones – an imperfect solution and above all too difficult to master, at least for me. Some others, who love to play some form of Gazzilli, have completely suppressed the semi-forcing opening, satisfied with a game-forcing 2♣️. 2♦️ then becomes either a weak two in Diamonds just like 2♥️ or 2♠️ or a balanced hand with 18-19 HCP, “Italian style”.
I have tried each of these different systems, to come to the conclusion that our good old “French” system, 2♣️ semi-forcing together with a game-forcing 2♦️ is the best solution. Here are some of the reasons
1) A semi-forcing 2♣️ covers a pretty large zone (18-23 HCP) and is therefore much more frequently used than a 2♦️, game-forcing with 24+HCP or the equivalent in trick count. One cannot do without it.
2) The 2♦️ opening is particularly harmful to setting Hearts as the trump suit. Tostart the biding with 2♦️-2♥️-3♥️ leaves no flexibility whatsoever for showing a fit. If you play 2♦️ as game-forcing, but take out the Hearts, the developments are as simple and easy to master after 2♦️ as when you use 2♣️ as game forcing.
3) To use 2♦️ as semi-forcing makes it impossible to bid 2♣️-2♦️-2♥️, the immediate consequence is the elimination of strong openings in the minors. By exchanging 2! and 2″ you lose more than you win, so all you need to do is solve the problem with the Hearts!
This is what I propose.