I'm not sure what order these rapid-succession posts will fall, so see the one following this if this comes first.
The variational scheme has me thinking of a methodology that may appeal to some who have strong feelings about other schemes. One could easily use a blended scheme. Here is how it would work.
2NT would be serious. One could play that 2♠ over heart agreement is serious and 2NT a non-serious spade message.
That would make 3NT a trump cue. The bidding of three of the agreed major would show good trumps, but that would now mean two of the top three. 3NT would show poor contextual trumps, just like 2NT does in the normal scheme. That would allow the partnership to stop at 3NT with horrifying trumps on occasion. Plus, the entire trump-strength message would be equally transmitted, just later and in a slightly different manner. But, explained.
Now, in the blended scheme, one could agree that 2NT, as serious, or 2♠ if using that, initiates cuebidding. One might be "serious" if one wanted to use a cuebidding-first approach because of tactical concerns.
The "blended scheme" would involve non-2NT auctions, or 2NT bypasses if you will. In that event, the partnership could use pattern bidding. Explaining yourself as "non-serious" might also be a tactical decision based upon a desire to pattern out on that specific hand. Of course, one would need to establish methods for patterning out, and this could be natural, semi-natural, or completely artificial. For instance, perhaps 3♣ shows a 5431 hand, 3D asking. Maybe 3D shows a 5-5 hand, 3♥ asking for the shortness. Whatever.
The idea of the blended scheme is complicated, but it may be of interest and does seem to have some merits.
A little more on this. If the picture jumps are all retained, and if 2♠ is serious after heart agreement, then that would leave four steps between the two-level agreement and the lowest Picture Jump. After spade agreement (2♠), Opener would have 3♣, 3D, 3♥, and 3♠. After heart agreement (2♥), Opener would have 2♠ as serious and thus 2NT, 3♣, 3D, and 3♥ for patterning.
Suppose that the first step shows 5431/5440. After 3♣ (spades agreed), the relay would ask for clarification in steps: 1st is lower-stiff 5431, 2nd is higher-stiff 5431, 3rd is lower void 5440, 4th is higher void 5440. After 2NT (hearts agreed), 3♣ is the asking bid. I have not yet figured out what the non-ask calls should be.
Suppose that the second step shows 5521/5530. Same asking relay, same steps and stiff/void.
The third step could be 6-4 hands, if 6-4 is possible.
The fourth step could be catch-all, showing balanced hands (5422, maybe 5332).
Something like that.
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