The Drury Convention is an artificial 2 response that’s used by a passed hand after partner opens 1 or 1 in third or fourth seat. It shows 3+-card trump support and maximum playing values (10+ support points). Drury is a very valuable convention that comes up frequently, is easy to remember and can dramatically improve your bidding accuracy. Here’s the type of problem it solves:
- J43 A75 KQ532 64 — You pass and partner opens 1S in third seat. Without Drury, you have a choice of four possibly disastrous responses:
- 1 – You make a limit-raise to 3 and go down because partner opened light.
- 2 – You raise conservatively to 2, partner passes, and you make 10 tricks because he had a full opener.
- 3 – You bid 1NT (forcing or standard), partner passes, and you get a poor score because the rest of the field is playing in their 8-card spade fit.
- 4 – You try a “temporizing” 2, partner passes and you get an even worse score.
A Drury 2 response shows your support and strength right away, allowing you to bid your hand’s full value without getting too high. It gives you a built-in safety valve if partner has opened light and it helps opener evaluate chances for game.
- Drury is used only when you’re a passed hand and partner has opened 1 or 1 in third or fourth seat. If you have 6-9 points, you make your normal raise to 2 of the major. If you’re stronger, you use the Drury 2 response, which always shows:
- 1 – At least 3-card support for partner’s major.
- 2 – A maximum passed hand (10+ support pts.).
Some pairs use a modification called Two-Way Drury, where a 2 response shows exactly 3-card support and a 2 response promises 4+-card support. This takes away your ability to make a natural 2 or 2 response, but the information about the extra trump can often improve opener’s ability to evaluate game chances.
Yet another treatment is Two-Way Reverse Drury, where 2 shows the 4-card raise and 2 shows the 3-card raise. This approach seems inferior for a number of reasons. One is that if you’re going to use up the extra bidding room with 2 instead of 2, it ought to tell opener something extra about your hand. This bidding space may be needed when opener has a full, but minimum opener (12-13 pts.). If you use “normal” Two-Way Drury and bid 2 with 3-card support, opener has a 2 bid available to show this hand. But if you use 2 to show 3-card support, opener will have to rebid 2 of his suit with minimum and sub-minimum hands. If responder has extra playing strength, he’ll have to guess about whether or not it’s safe to bid on.
Evaluating your hand
A Drury 2 response is encouraging, but it doesn’t promise a strong game invitation. To use Drury, you should have something better than just a maximum high-card-point single raise, and you’ll often have to come up with a descriptive rebid to pinpoint your strength. Here are some examples of responding hands after partner opens 1:
AK43 1097 5 J10864 — Bid 2. This is only 8 high-card points, but it evaluates to 10 support points.
963 Q102 KJ84 KJ4 — Bid 2. This is a dead-minimum Drury bid, and you’ll show it by making a minimum rebid in hearts at your next turn (or by passing if partner rebids 2).
3 Q874 AJ954 K43 — Bid 2 (or 2 if you play Two-Way Drury). This is a fairly strong Drury hand, and you plan to bid 4 if partner’s rebid shows he has a full opener. But don’t hang him for opening light — if partner rebids 2 to show a sub-minimum, you should pass.
KJ3 842 Q754 QJ4 — Bid 2. This is a flat 9 pts. with poor trumps, so just make a simple raise.
Opener’s rebid over 2 shows whether or not he has a “full” opening bid. A popular treatment (called “Reverse Drury”) uses the rebid of his suit to show the bad hand. Most other bids are natural and show at least a full opener. The meanings are:
- 2 of your major (1S-2–2) = bare minimum or sub-opener. The Drury bidder can now pass safely at the 2-level.
- 2 = a “normal” opening bid, but with nothing extra (13 pts.) — usually a hand that would have passed a standard limit raise. The Drury bidder can sign off at 2 with a minimum or jump to 3 (or 4) with a real powerhouse.
- 2 (after 1-2) = Full opener with 4 hearts. This allows you to find a 4-4 fit, which will often play better than a 5-3.
- Any other new suit (1-2–2, or 1-2–3) = Extra values, showing a second suit and at least game-try values.
- 3 of your major (1-2–3) = invitational to game. The Drury bidder can pass with bare-minimum values for his call.
- Double jump in a new suit (1-2–4, 4 or 4) = Splinter, showing a slam try with singleton in that suit.
- 2NT = A strong notrump opener (15-17). If the Drury bidder is also balanced, 3NT may be a better spot. See below for an alternate use for this bid.
- 3NT = Balanced, 18+ pts.
- 4 of your major = any hand that wants to play game opposite 10 support pts. Opener will usually choose this bid unless he wants to try for a slam.
Other rebid strategies
You and your partner can assign any meanings you like to opener’s rebids. My friend Tom Oppenheimer of St. Louis uses a modification of opener’s 2NT and 3NT rebids that can be especially valuable for finding short-point slams. Here’s how it works:
After a Drury response (regular or two-way), opener’s rebid of 3NT shows the strong notrump hand (15-17 high-card points, balanced distribution). Opener’s rebid of 2NT is artificial and asks responder to further describe his hand. Responder does this with a set of rebids that are identical to those used by opener over the Jacoby 2NT convention. After 1 – Drury 2/2 – 2NT, the meanings of responder’s rebids are:
- 3, 3, 3 = singleton.
- 3 = more-than-minimum strength with a ruffing value (a good 11+ support points).
- 3NT = balanced maximum (11+ high-card points).
- 4, 4, 4 = 5-card suit with at least two of the top four honors (QJxxx or better).
- 4 = minimum values, no singleton.
Choosing your rebid
You open 1 in third seat and partner bids 2 (Drury). What is your rebid?
AQJ54 1032 J2 K64 — Bid 2 to show a sub-minimum. Partner will almost always pass.
KQJ73 4 102 AQ1065 — Bid 4. There’s no point in bidding 3, which will only serve to give the opponents information.
Q10975 AQ7 AJ96 3 — Bid 3, which shows a game-try (or better) and will help partner evaluate his hand. You have only 13 high-card pts., but if partner has fitting honors in diamonds, you should have good chances to make 4.
KJ9543 32 AK3 Q5 — Bid 3 to invite game. If partner has more than a minimum Drury response, he’ll bid 4.
KQ653 AQ QJ2 A103 — Bid 3NT to offer a choice of games. Partner can pass with balanced strength or go back to 4 if he has a ruffing value.
AKJ842 A94 KQ5 4 — Bid 4, a splinter showing a singleton club and slam interest. If partner has his high-card strength outside clubs, he’ll cooperate with a cuebid. If he bids 4, he probably has wasted club honors, and you’ll pass.
A9875 KQ103 A10 74 — Bid 2. This shows a full opener and a 4-card heart suit, but it doesn’t necessarily promise extra strength. If partner raises to 3H, you’ll bid 4. If he retreats to 2, he has a minimum (and probably wasn’t encouraged by your heart bid), and you can pass.
K8543 A62 AQ3 54 — Bid 2. This tells partner you have a full opener, but that you aren’t strong enough to accept a normal game invitation. If partner has maximum playing strength, this provides some encouragement. If he has a balanced minimum, he can retreat to 2 and you can pass.