In Their Own Words

The Murray 2 Bid

For the Players Who Already Have Everything
by Eric Murray

This convention was invented for a number of very important reasons.

  1. Everybody else has a convention named after him.
  2. It is higher ranking than either the Drury 2 or Stayman.
  3. It helps clutter up a convention card.
  4. The name “MURRAY” on the card automatically puts your opponents ill at ease, as they suspect cheating.
  5. It is innocuous, and it can’t get you into too much trouble.

The response of 2 over partner’s 1NT is artificial, so the convention can easily be avoided by shying away from no trump openings. The bid asks opener to bid a major suit even if it is only three cards in length. If opener does not hold a four-card major, he bids his lower-ranking three-card major. For example:

♠ A 3 2
Q J 3
A 7 6
♣ K Q 9 5
♠ J 8 7 5
10 9 6 5
♣ 8 6 4 3
WEst North East South
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass Pass

Here you probably go down gracefully in 2 rather than annihilation in 1NT.
B. You hold:
♠ A 10 7 5 3  K J 7 3 2  8  ♣ J 9

and you bid 2 over partner’s 1NT, supporting his major suit bid to game and thus achieving a transfer bid.

C. ♠ A 9 7 4 3  Q 10 8 5 4  9  ♣ 7 6

WEst North East South
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 3

D. Not forcing but invitational:

WEst North East South
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2♠ Pass 3

At this point it should be obvious that all the initial bid of 2 guarantees is 13 cards.

Now proceeding a step farther, if bidding proceeds 1NT – 2; 2

2NT, the 2NT bid initiates a variation of the English Baron Conventions and compels the opener to start bidding his four-card suits from the bottom up. Very early in the use of this convention, two disciples, Bruce Gowdy and Bruce Elliott of Toronto, proceeded to use the convention as follows:

♠ A 6 5
A 7 4 3
K Q 6 5
♣ A 7
♠ K 9
A J 9 4 3
♣ K Q 8 5 4
WEst North East South
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3 Pass 4NT
Pass 3♠ Pass 6♣*
Pass 7

*Grand slam force with diamonds agreed.

If, however, the responder is a passed hand and the auction proceeds.

WEst North East South
Pass 1NT Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 2NT

The 2NT response announces a bare nine points and lets all the third- and fourth-hand fifteen-point notrump cheaters off the hook.

If the opening notrump bidder has ignominiously chosen to open a notrump with doubletons in both majors, then with 5-4 in the minors, he rebids 2NT and with 6-3, he bids his six-card suit. Any rebid by the responder at the three level in this situation is not forcing and likely will be passed, and must be passed, if it is a minor-suit bid.

As in the Drury 2♣, there are other variations of this ill-conceived convention. Those readers who have nothing better to do (unlikely) might try this convention and if they have any problems, just forward them to the writer c/o General Deliver, North West Territories, Canada.

A superb example of the convention taken from a recent tournament was the following hand:

♠ K 7 5
K 9
K Q 9 3
♣ A J 7 4
♠ 5
J 10 6
6 4 2
♣ K 9 8 6 5 3
♠ J 10 9 8
8 7 5
A 8 5
♣ Q 10 2
♠ A Q 6 4 2
A Q 4 3 2
J 10 7
♣ —
North East South West
1NT Pass 2 All Pass

Opener obviously forgot he was playing Murray, but declarer had no trouble making an overtrick in this fine contract, resulting in a top board. All other misguided N-S’s reaching six spades, down one. True, this N-S pair did not win the tournament, but then neither did their opponents on this particular hand.

The writer was waxing enthusiastic to Gerry Friedlander and Robert Freedman about the virtues of this convention at the recent Buffalo Sectional when Friedlander rudely interrupted to remind the gathering of the six-spade contract he and Bob had reached in Syracuse and when Friedlander laid down his dummy, Freedman quickly noted that both his hand and Dummy’s contained five spades to the AQ, whereupon he groaned “duplication of values” and a witness kibitzer remarked, “First time I’ve ever seen a two-way finesse for the king of trumps.” They then replaced their hands in the proper boards and took two averages which is more than they’ll get in the future for ignoring this convention.

Edgar Kaplan’s remark, following publication of the article on the Drury 2♣ was, “The most magnificent handling of an absolutely worthless convention I’ve ever seen.” Mr. Kaplan’s observations on the merit of the Murray two diamond convention are specifically not invited.

(Article reprinted from The Bulletin – Sept. 1960)

About Eric Murray

Eric Murray (b.1928), a barrister and solicitor, has had considerable success in North American and international competition. He is a former president of Unit 166 (Ontario) and a former District 2 representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. Murray, an ACBL Grand Life Master, is a member of the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame. He is the author of the Murray 2 convention and the co-author of the Drury 2 convention. Murray, a brilliant humorist and raconteur, chooses to treat his subject lightly, but the 2 bid itself if not to be so treated by its opponents.