Contract Bridge


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Lebensohl is a convention allowing the responder to differentiate between weak and strong hands when opener's 1NT opening is overcalled. This convention is alertable.

Convention Edit

  • Any suit advance at the 2-level is a competitive sign off.
  • An advance of 2NT after RHO overcalls partner's 1NT shows a weak competitive hand. Opener must relay to 3.
    • Advancer may correct to any suit lower-ranking than the overcalled suit as a sign off.
    • A cue-bid by advancer is Stayman, promising a stopper in enemy suit.
    • A higher-ranking suit than the overcalled suit at the three-level is invitational.
    • 3NT by advancer is game-forcing and promises a stopper in the enemy suit.
  • A direct cue-bid advance is Stayman, denying a stopper.
  • A direct 3NT advance also denies a stopper.
    • Opener must bid a suit with no stopper.
  • A direct bid of 3 of a suit is forcing.
    • If the suit is higher-ranking than the overcalled suit, then an invite is also possible by advancing 2NT first. Otherwise, only sign-off and game force are possible.

As a mnemonic for who has the stopper with cue-bids and 3NT, "slow shows, direct denies".

Examples Edit

With a weak response and 5 hearts,

South West North East
1NT 2 2 -
- -
South West North East
1NT 2 2NT -
3 - 3 -
- -

With game-forcing strength and a stopper,

South West North East
1NT 2 2NT -
3 - 3NT

With game-forcing strength and no stopper,

South West North East
1NT 2 3NT

Lebensohl After a Takeout Double of a Weak Two Bid Edit

  • A response of 2NT to a takeout double of opponent's weak two bid is Lebensohl, asking partner to relay 3.
    • Advancer may pass or correct to a different suit to sign off with 0-6 points.
    • Advancer's cue-bid has the same meaning as a direct cue-bid response to the double (typically 13+ points), but shows a stopper.
    • Advancer's 3NT is natural and shows slam interest (since 3NT already promises a stopper).
  • A direct 3-over-2 jump therefore shows 7-10 points and is not forcing.
  • A direct cue-bud response denies a stopper.
  • A direct 3NT response requires a stopper but denies slam interest.

Because the takeout double is unlimited, the doubler is not obligated to bid 3 with a monster hand and game-forcing values. Any bid other than 3 promises at least 18 (20?) points and is forcing below game unless doubler rebids an already-shown suit (not possible below game...?).

Extending Lebensohl Edit

Some partnerships use Lebensohl in a few other situations.

After a single raise Edit

When partner doubles a one-of-a-suit opening and RHO raises, 2NT is Lebensohl, asking partner to bid 3. This shows 8-9 points.

South West North East
1 DBL 2 2NT
- 3 - 3
- - -

This application in particular gives up the 2NT response to the takeout double. But Lebensohl gives several more informative responses anyway.

  •  ???

After a reverse Edit

  • 1-1-2-2NT is Lebensohl, continuing for instance -3-3 showing a weak sign-off in diamonds.

After Michaels Edit

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