Pavlicek System (short)

by Richard Pavlicek

Last revision: March 20, 2017

———— Contents ————IntroductionOpening Bids
Notrump StructureStaymanJacoby Transfer
Minor Suit StaymanMinor Suit TransfersThree Diamonds Majors
Splinter ResponsesTexas TransferNotrump Interference
Opening One of SuitRebids by ResponderOpener's Third Bid
Responder's Third BidRebids after 1NT RebidOne Notrump Forcing
Two over One of MajorTwo Clubs over One DiamondInverted Minor Raises
Weak Jump ShiftsTwo Notrump ResponseMajor Suit Game Tries
Opener's Reverse BidFourth Suit BidsPassed Hand Changes
Two-Way Reverse Drury
Competitive One of SuitAfter Takeout DoubleAfter Suit Overcall
After Two-Suited OvercallAfter One Notrump OvercallCompetitive Doubles
Cooperative DoublesCompetitive Limit Style
Higher Opening BidsTwo Club OpeningWeak Two Bids
Preemptive OpeningsThree Notrump Opening
Defense to One of SuitTakeout DoublesSuit Overcalls
Weak Jump OvercallsTwo-Suited OvercallsThree-Level Cue Overcall
After Two Enemy BidsAdditional Agreements
Other Defensive BiddingDefense to Notrump OpeningsDefense to Weak Openings
Lead-Directing Doubles
Slam Bidding MethodsGeneral ApproachFour Notrump Meanings
BlackwoodFive Notrump Meanings
Defensive CardingNotrump Opening LeadsSuit Opening Leads
Leads After Trick OneHonor SignalsCount Signals
Suit Preference SignalsTrump Signals


Introduction

This is an abbreviated version of the Pavlicek System for casual partnerships.

Strength requirements, unless specifically stated as HCP, are presumed to be HCP for natural notrump bids, or total points (distributional values included) for all other bids.


Abbreviations used:

1Fforcing
AFartificial force
DJdouble jump
NFnonforcing
Iinvitational
GFgame forcing
STslam try

Unusual treatments are denoted with a bullet before the description.


Opening Bids

Basic approach is five-card majors, strong notrumps and weak two-bids. When opening a minor with 3-3, bid the stronger unless the difference is close, then 1 C; similarly with 4-4, although rebid considerations may be a factor.

21 C, 1 D13-22, 3+ cards
1 H, 1 S13-22, 5+ cards
1 NT15-17, balanced
2 C23+, AF
2 D, 2 H, 2 S5-10 HCP, weak two-bid
2 NT20-22, balanced
3+ suitweak
3 NT •ace ask, good 1-suiter, 9+ tricks, F
4 NT, 5 NT •minors, extreme shape


Notrump Structure

An opening bid of 1 NT shows 15-17 HCP and balanced distribution. Hands with a 5 card major or off-shape pattern are acceptable if each doubleton contains an ace, king or queen, or per judgment.

1 NTPass?

32 CStayman
2 D, 2 HJacoby transfer
2 Sminor-suit Stayman
2 NT, 3 Cminor-suit transfer
3 D •5-5 majors
3 H, 3 S •splinter, 3-suited ST
3 NT, 4 Ssign-off
4 CGerber
4 D, 4 HTexas transfer


An opening bid of 2 NT shows 20-22 HCP, similar in nature to 1 NT.

2 NTPass?

43 CStayman
3 D, 3 HJacoby transfer
3 Sminor-suit Stayman
Highersame as above


Stayman

After a 1 NT or 2 NT opening the cheapest club bid is Stayman. No HCP are promised, nor is the presence of a major suit.

1 NT
?
Pass2 CPassanalogous for 2 NT opening

52 Dno 4+ card major
2 H4+ hearts, may have 4 spades
2 S4+ spades, denies 4 hearts


1 NT
2 D
Pass
Pass
2 C
?
Pass

62 Hweak, at least 4-4 majors or 3=4=1=5
2 Ssign-off
2 NTdoes not imply major, I
3 C, 3 D5+ cards, GF
3 H •5+ spades, 4 hearts, GF
3 S •5+ hearts, 4 spades, GF
Any gamesign-off


2 NT
3 D
Pass
Pass
3 C
?
Pass

73 H •5+ spades, 4+ hearts, GF
3 S •5+ hearts, 4 spades, GF
Any gamesign-off
4 C, 4 D5+ cards, ST


1 NT
2 H
Pass
Pass
2 C
?
Passanalogous for 2 S rebid

82 S •4 spades (checkback), F
2 NT, 3 Hno interest in spades, I
3 C, 3 D5+ cards, 4 spades, GF
3 S •agrees hearts, ST
3 NT4 spades, game sign-off
4 C, 4 D •splinter, ST
4 H, 5 C, 5 Dsign-off


2 NT
3 H
Pass
Pass
3 C
?
Pass

93 S •agrees hearts, ST
3 NT4 spades, game sign-off
4 C, 4 D5+ cards, ST
4 H, 5 C, 5 Dsign-off


2 NT
3 S
Pass
Pass
3 C
?
Pass

103 NT4 hearts, game sign-off
4 C, 4 D5+ cards, ST
4 H •agrees spades, ST
4 S, 5 C, 5 Dsign-off


After interference

1 NT
?
Pass2 CDblanalogous for 2 NT opening

11Rdbl4+ strong clubs
Pass4 clubs, no major
2 D4+ diamonds, no major
2 H, 2 Sunchanged

If opener redoubles or passes, responder may pass, redouble or bid 2 D to play; else rebid normally.

If either opponents bids, all doubles by opener or responder are penalty.


Jacoby Transfer

After a 1 NT or 2 NT opening the cheapest diamond bid shows at least 5 hearts, and the cheapest heart bid shows at least 5 spades. Opener typically completes the transfer by bidding the shown major.

1 NT
2 H
Pass
Pass
2 D
?
Pass

122 S •5-5 majors, I (NF)
2 NT5 hearts, I
3 C, 3 D4+ cards, GF
3 H6+ hearts (rare 5), I
3 NT5 hearts (rare 6), choice of game
3 S •agrees hearts, ST
4 C, 4 Dself-splinter, agrees hearts, ST
4 Hagrees hearts, slam I (NF)


1 NT
2 S
Pass
Pass
2 H
?
Pass

133 H •agrees spades, ST
4 C, 4 D, 4 Hself-splinter, agrees spades, ST
Otheranalogous to above


2 NT
3 H
Pass
Pass
3 D
?
Pass

143 S •agrees hearts, ST
4 C, 4 D4+ cards, ST
4 Hagrees hearts, slam I (NF)
3 NT5 hearts (rare 6), choice of game


2 NT
3 S
Pass
Pass
3 H
?
Pass

154 H •agrees spades, ST
Otheranalogous to above

Note that responder's rebid of 3 or 4 in the unshown major artificially agrees the major shown, not only after Jacoby but also after Stayman.


After interference

If an opponent interferes after the transfer, rebids are adjusted to obtain a penalty or put the active opponent on lead. Same principles apply after a 2 NT opening.

1 NT
?
Pass2 DDblanalogous for 2 H doubled

16Passnormal action
Rdbl4+ strong diamonds, suggests to play
2 Hfit, happy with diamond lead
3 Dnormal superaccept
3 Hsuperaccept, happy with diamond lead


1 NT
?
Pass2 D2 Sanalogous for spade transfer

17Passnormal action
Dblpenalty
3 Dgood heart fit to put bidder on lead
3 Hgood fit, happy with spade lead


Minor Suit Stayman

After a 1 NT or 2 NT opening the cheapest spade bid shows both minor suits. Only 4-4 is required with slam interest, but otherwise at least 5-4 (either way). Over 1 NT strength is game invitational or better; over 2 NT it is game forcing.

1 NT
?
Pass2 SPass

182 NT, 3 C, 3 Dminimum, NF
3 H, 3 Sstrength in suit, GF
3 NTmaximum, NF
4 C, 4 Dmaximum, pure values, GF


1 NT
2 NT
Pass
Pass
2 S
?
Pass

193 C, 3 D5+ cards, NF
3 H, 3 Sshortness, GF
3 NTsign-off
4 C, 4 D5+ cards, ST


1 NT
3 C
Pass
Pass
2 S
?
Passanalogous for 3 D rebid

203 D5+ cards, GF
3 H, 3 Sshortness, GF
3 NTchoice of game, NF
4 Cat least 5-5, I


After 2NT opening

2 NT
?
Pass3 SPass

213 NTno fit or wrong values
4 C, 4 Dthat minor fit
4 H •no 4 card fit, good values


Minor Suit Transfers

After a 1 NT opening, a response of 2 NT shows 5+ clubs, and 3 C shows 5+ diamonds. No strength is promised (may be a bust). Responder should not have a second suit if he plans to bid again. Opener almost always completes the transfer but may gamble 3 NT with an exceptional fit and stoppers. This does not apply over 2 NT.

1 NT
3 C
Pass
Pass
2 NT
?
Pass

223 D, 3 H, 3 Sself-splinter, agrees clubs, ST
3 NTmild ST (NF)
4 Cshapely, I
5 Cshapely, slam remote, NF

Note that to invite game in notrump it is necessary to use Stayman and rebid 2 NT.


1 NT
3 D
Pass
Pass
3 C
?
Pass

233 H, 3 S, 4 Cself-splinter, agrees diamonds, ST
3 NTmild ST, NF
4 Dshapely, I
5 Dshapely, slam remote, NF

Note that all suit rebids by responder confirm 6+ cards in his minor; notrump rebids can be 5-3-3-2.


Three Diamonds Majors

After a 1 NT opening, a response of 3 D shows at least 5-5 in the majors and GF values. This does not apply over 2 NT.

1 NT
?
Pass3 DPass

243 H, 3 Sbetter fit, normal action
3 NTextreme minor strength, NF
4 H, 4 S •great fit, both minor aces


1 NT
3 H
Pass
Pass
3 D
?
Passanalogous for 3 S rebid

253 NThonors in short suits, NF
4 C, 4 Dshortness, ST
4 Hsign-off


Splinter Responses

After a 1 NT opening, a response of 3 H or 3 S shows a 3-suited hand (4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0) short in the major bid with interest in slam. This does not apply over 2 NT.

1 NT
?
Pass3 HPass

263 S, 4 C, 4 Dfit-showing
3 NTno fit or wrong values


1 NT
?
Pass3 SPass

273 NTno fit or wrong values
4 C, 4 Dfit-showing
4 Hheart fit, discouraging slam
4 Sheart fit, good hand


Texas Transfer

After a 1 NT or 2 NT opening a jump to 4 D shows 6+ hearts, and a jump to 4 H shows 6+ spades. Opener must complete the transfer, and responder usually passes. If responder does bid again:

1 NT
4 H
Pass
Pass
4 D
?
Passanalogous for spade transfer

284 S, 5 C, 5 Dvoid, ST
4 NTBlackwood
5 Hfreak shape, I


Notrump Interference

If an opponent doubles our 1 NT opening there is one addition:

1 NTDbl?

29Rdblrescue with one minor*
Otherunchanged

*opener bids 2 C then responder passes or corrects


1 NT2 D?analogous for all overcalls

30Doublepenalty 2 level; negative 3 C thru 4 D
Suit bidNF* at 2 level, F at 3 level
2 NTLebensohl (later cue or 3 NT has stopper)
CueStayman, no stopper
3 NTnatural, no stopper
4 D, 4 HTexas thru 3 C overcall

*unless shown by opponent, then competitive takeout


Opening One of Suit

General strategy is to respond up-the-line with 4-4 majors. A 5 card minor may be suppressed to bid a 4 card major at the 1 level, but with good hands tend to bid in natural order unless greatly biased by strength.

1 CPass?

311 D, 1 H, 1 S6+, 4+ cards
1 NT6-10, no 4 card major
2 C11+, 4+ clubs, F
2 D, 2 H, 2 Sweak
2 NT15+, balanced
3+ any suitweak
3 NT13-14, balanced


1 DPass?

322 C11+, 5+ clubs
2 D11+, 4+ diamonds
Othersame as above


1 HPass?

331 S6+, 4+ spades
1 NT6-14, F
2 C, 2 D13+, 5+ cards
2 H7-10, 3+ hearts
2 S, 3 C, 3 Dweak
2 NT15+, balanced
3 H11-12, 4+ hearts
3 S, 4 C, 4 D13+, splinter
3 NT13-15, 4+ hearts, no splinter, F
Higher suitweak


1 SPass?

342 H13+, 5+ cards
2 S7-10, 3+ spades
3 Hweak
3 S11-12, 4+ spades
3 NT13-15, 4+ spades, no splinter, F
4 H13+, splinter
Othersame as above


Rebids by Responder

After a 1-level suit response and opener's nonjump, non-reverse rebid, all jumps and raises to three of a minor are GF. Responder usually must bid a new suit (third or fourth) to effect an invitation.

1 C
1 S
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
Pass

351 NT, 2 C H S6-10, NF
2 D11+, AF
2 NT, 3 C H S13+, GF
3 D5+ diamonds, 5+ hearts, GF
3 NT, 4 H, 4 Ssign-off attempt
4 C, 4 Dsplinter, ST


1 D
2 C
Pass
Pass
1 S
?
Pass

362 D, 2 S6-10, NF
2 H11+, AF
2 NT10-12, I
3 C, 3 D, 3 S •13+, GF
3 H5+ hearts, 5+ spades, GF
3 NT13-16


1 C
2 C
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
Pass

372 H6-10, NF
2 D, 2 S11+, semi-natural, F
2 NT10-12, I
3 C, 3 H •13+, GF
3 D5+ diamonds, 5+ hearts, GF
3 S4 spades, 6+ hearts, GF
3 NT13-16


Opener's Third Bid

After a third- or fourth-suit force, opener should describe his hand as naturally as possible. Bidding at or below 2 NT (except new suit, or 2 S after 1 S rebid) or the same suit three times explicitly rejects an invitation and is NF. Other non-jumps are ambiguous strength (F); jumps are GF.

1 D
1 S
?
Pass
Pass
1 H
2 C
Pass
Pass

382 D, 2 H, 2 NTreject, NF
2 S* •4 good/decent spades, ambiguous, F
3 C4 clubs, ambiguous, F
3 D, 3 H, 3 NTaccept
3 S5 spades, 6+ diamonds, GF

*undesirable to bid notrump; could be 5-6 bare minimum


Responder's Third Bid

After a third- or fourth-suit force, responder need not bid again if opener's third bid was a rejection. If responder does bid again, he names the final strain; if this is a nonjump below game, he shows an invitational-range hand. Any jump bid below game is forcing.

If opener raises the third or fourth suit, or shows a preference for responder's first suit, this does not determine the final strain but merely describes opener's hand. It is still responder's duty to bid the final strain next.

Rebidding the third or fourth suit shows at least 5-5 shape; invitational at 3 level, unless opener showed a preference for responder's first suit then GF; GF at 4 level.


Rebids after 1NT Rebid

When opener rebids 1 NT, responder's rebids follow a similar structure but substituting "new minor forcing" for the previous third-suit force. All jumps are GF.

1 C
1 NT
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
Passanalogous for 1 D opening

392 C, 2 H6-10, NF
2 D11+, AF
2 S13+, 4 spades, 5+ hearts, GF
2 NT11-12, I
3 C, 3 H13+, GF
3 D13+, at least 5-5, GF
3 NT, 4 Hsign-off


1 C
1 NT
Pass
Pass
1 D
?
Pass

402 C* •11+, AF
2 D6-10, NF
2 H, 2 S4 cards, 5+ diamonds, GF
2 NT11-12, I
3 C, 3 D13+, GF
3 NTsign-off

*no sign-off in clubs on this auction


1 H
1 NT
Pass
Pass
1 S
?
Pass

412 C, 2 D11+, seminatural, F
2 H, 2 S6-10, NF
2 NT11-12, I
3 C, 3 D13+, at least 5-5, GF
3 H, 3 S13+, GF
3 NT, 4 H, 4 Ssign-off


Opener's third bid

1 D
1 NT
?
Pass
Pass
1 S
2 C
Pass
Pass

422 D, 2 S, 2 NTreject
2 H*4 hearts, ambiguous
3 C4 clubs, ambiguous
3 D, 3 S, 3 NTaccept

*priority bid if also holding 3 spades


Responder's third bid

After new minor forcing, responder need not bid again if opener's third bid was a rejection. If responder does bid again, he names the final strain; if this is a nonjump below game, he shows an invitational-range hand. Any jump bid below game is forcing.

If opener raises the new minor or shows a preference for responder's first suit, this does not determine the final strain but merely describes opener's hand. It is still responder's duty to bid the final strain next.


One Notrump Forcing

After a 1 H or 1 S opening, a response of 1 NT shows 6-14 HCP (rarely less with a fit) and denies 4 spades after 1 H. Obviously it is forcing.

1 H
?
Pass1 NTPass

432 C, 2 D13-18, 3+ cards, NF
2 H13-15, 6+ hearts, NF
2 S17+ with 6+ hearts else 19+, F
2 NT16-18, I
3 C, 3 D19+, 4+ cards (rare 3), GF
3 H16-18, 6+ hearts, I
3 S4+ spades, 6+ hearts, GF
3 NT19+, NF
4 H19+, 6+ hearts


1 S
?
Pass1 NTPass

442 H13-18, 4+ hearts, NF
2 S13-15, 6+ spades, NF
3 H19+, 4+ hearts, GF
3 S16-18, 6+ spades, I
4 H16-18, at least 5-5, NF
Othersame as above


Rebids by responder

1 H
2 C
Pass
Pass
1 NT
?
Pass

452 D6-10, 6+ diamonds (rare 5), NF
2 H6-10 with 2 hearts or 4-7 with 3+, NF
2 S •11+, agrees clubs
2 NT11-12, I
3 C8-10, 5+ clubs (rare 4), NF
3 D, 3 S •13+, club raise, values in bid, F
3 H11-12, 3 hearts, I
3 NT13-14, NF
4 C10-12, 6+ clubs, I
4 H13+, 3 hearts, NF


1 S
2 D
Pass
Pass
1 NT
?
Pass

462 H6-10, 5+ hearts, NF
2 S6-10 with 2 spades or 4-7 with 3+, NF
2 NT11-12, I
3 C6-10, 6+ clubs, NF
3 D10-12, 5+ diamonds (rare 4), I
3 H •13+, diamond raise, heart values
3 S11-12, 3 spades, I
3 NT13-14, NF
4 D10-12, 6+ diamonds, I
4 S13+, 3 spades, NF


1 S
2 H
Pass
Pass
1 NT
?
Pass

472 S6-10 with 2 spades or 4-7 with 3+, NF
2 NT11-12, I
3 C, 3 D6-10, 6+ cards, NF
3 H9-11, 4+ hearts, I
3 S11-12, 3 spades, I
3 NT13-14, NF
4 C, 4 D •13+, heart raise, values in bid
4 H12+, 4+ hearts, NF
4 S13+, 3 spades, NF


1 H
2 H
Pass
Pass
1 NT
?
Pass

482 S* •8+, at least 5-5 minors, F
3 S, 4 C, 4 D •13+, heart raise, values in bid, GF
3 H11-12, 2 hearts, I
4 H13+ with 2 hearts or 11+ with 3+
Othersame as above

*limit bidding follows

Note that responder's jump shifts always show support for opener with values in suit bid.


Two over One of Major

After a 1 H or 1 S opening, a 2-over-1 response shows 5+ cards (rarely strong 4 card minor) and 13+ points, or 6+ cards with 11-12 points. This is GF unless responder rebids his suit next, then invitational. Opener rebids naturally, with no extra strength required for any nonjump bid. Unbid suit jumps are splinters.

1 H
?
Pass2 CPassanalogous for other major-minor starts

492 D, 2 S4+ cards
2 H6+ hearts or strong 5
2 NT12-14 or 18+
3 C3+ clubs*
3 D, 3 S15+, splinter, club raise
3 H15+, 6+ hearts, solid or K-Q-J-10
3 NT15-17, NF
4 C15+, 5-5 shape
4 D •15+, self-splinter, agrees hearts
4 H15-17, 7+ hearts, no unbid suit control


1 S
?
Pass2 HPass

502 S6+ spades or strong 5
2 NT12-14 or 18+
3 C, 3 D4+ cards
3 H3+ hearts*
3 S15+, 6+ spades, solid or K-Q-J-10
3 NT15-17, NF
4 C, 4 D15+, splinter, heart raise
4 H15-17, 3+ hearts*, no unbid suit control
4 S15-17, 7+ spades, no unbid suit control

*Opener should not raise immediately with 3 small.


Rebids by responder

1 H
2 D
Pass
Pass
2 C
?
Pass

512 H13+, 3+ hearts
2 S13+, AF, usually 6+ clubs
2 NT13-14 or 18+
3 C11-12, 6+ clubs, NF
3 D13+, 4+ diamonds
3 H15-17, 3+ hearts*
3 S15+, splinter, diamond raise
3 NT15-17, NF
4 C15+, 6+ clubs, solid or K-Q-J-10
4 D15-17, 4+ diamonds, no spade control
4 H15-17, 3+ hearts*, no spade control

*not 3 small


1 S
2 S
Pass
Pass
2 D
?
Pass

522 NT13-14 or 18+
3 C, 3 H4+ cards (rare 3)
3 D11-12, 6+ diamonds, NF
3 S13+, spades J-x or better
3 NT15-17, NF
4 C, 4 H15+, splinter, spade raise
4 D15+, 6+ diamonds, solid or K-Q-J-10
4 S15-17, no unbid suit control


Two Clubs over One Diamond

After a 1 D opening, a 2 C response shows 5+ clubs (rarely strong 4) and 11+ points. If opener has a minimum (not enough to force to game) he must rebid 2 D, which is artificial; any other rebid shows 15+ (good 14) and is GF.

1 D
?
Pass2 CPass

532 D •any minimum, AF
2 H, 2 S15+, 4+ cards, 5+ diamonds
2 NT15+ (good 14)
3 C15+, 3+ clubs (not 3 small)
3 D15+, 6+ diamonds
3 H, 3 S15+, splinter, club raise
3 NT18-19, NF
4 C •15+, 5-5 minors


Rebids by responder

1 D
2 D
Pass
Pass
2 C
?
Pass

542 H, 2 S, 3 D13+, natural, GF
2 NT, 3 C11-12, natural, NF
3 NT13-17, NF
4 C17+, 6+ clubs, solid or K-Q-J-10
4 D •17+, 5-5 minors


Inverted Minor Raises

After a 1 C or 1 D opening, responder's single raise show 10+ (11+ if balanced), 4+ trumps and no 4 card major; forcing for one round.

1 C
?
Pass2 CPassanalogous for 1 D P 2 D

552 D, 2 H, 2 S15+, natural or stopper, F
2 NT12-14, often 3 clubs, NF
3 C12-14, 4+ clubs, NF
3 D, 3 H, 3 S17+, splinter, GF
3 NT18-19, NF
4 C17+, 6+ clubs, no splinter, F


Subsequent bidding

If either player bids 3 or 4 of the agreed minor (nonjump) it shows minimum values for the previous bidding and is NF. Exception: Removing 3 NT to 4 of the minor is a slam try (F) unless the same player made a NF bid.


Weak Jump Shifts

After an opening bid of 1 of a suit, all jumps in unbid suits to any level are weak, except for a double jump-shift response to a major, which is defined as a splinter bid. Typical holdings depend on the level.

1 CPass?

562 D, 2 H, 2 S2-5 HCP, 6 cards or good 5
3 D, 3 H, 3 S2-7 HCP, 7 cards or good 6
4 D, 4 H, 4 S2-7 HCP, 8 cards or good 7
5 D, 5 H, 5 Sschizoid on parole?

When jumping to 3 or 4 in a suit below game, playing tricks are more important than HCP or suit length. Responder should have 4 tricks less than his bid, so opener can judge when to bid game.


Rebids by opener

1 D
?
Pass2 HPass

57Passwell advised
2 S, 3 C, 3 Dnatural, extreme shape, no fit, NF
2 NT* •AF, game try
3 Hblocking, NF
3 S, 4 C, 4 Dnatural, extreme shape, no fit, I
3 NT (rare)natural, no fit, based on own hand
4 Hgood fit, may be blocking

*same structure as after weak two-bids


Two Notrump Response

After an opening bid of 1 of a suit, a 2 NT response shows a balanced hand of 15+ HCP, usually with no 4 card major biddable at the 1 level, but may contain one if flat (4-3-3-3) with the other unbid suits stopped. This bid neither shows nor denies support for opener's suit.

1 D
?
Pass2 NTPass

583 C, 3 H, 3 S4+ cards, usually 5+ diamonds
3 D6+ diamonds
3 NT12-14, NF
4 D15+, agrees diamonds


1 S
?
Pass2 NTPass

593 C, 3 D, 3 H4+ cards
3 S6+ spades
3 NT12-14, NF
4 C, 4 D, 4 H15+, self-splinter, agrees spades*
4 S15-16, agrees spades*

*hence responder's 4 NT is then Blackwood


Rebids by responder

Responder is presumed to have 15-17 HCP, so with 18+ he must bid beyond game. Bidding an unbid suit shows strength and implies support for opener's last shown suit, unless opener bid a major that responder bypassed at the 1 level, then opener's first suit.

1 C
3 H
Pass
Pass
2 NT
?
Pass

603 S, 4 Dstrength in suit, club fit
3 NT15-17, NF
4 Cworking cards, club fit
4 H15-17, 4 hearts, 4-3-3-3
4 NT18-19, natural, I


Major Suit Game Tries

Whenever we raise a major from 1 to 2, whether an opening bid, a 1-level response or a 1-level rebid, game tries are launched by the cheapest bid (2 S or 2 NT) to ask about dummy's hand. Purpose is to allow effective game tries without revealing information about the closed hand. Other suit bids become slam tries.

1 H
?
Pass2 HPass

612 SAF, asking
2 NTbalanced, I
3 C, 3 D, 3 S* •4+ cards, ST
3 Hblocking
3 NTchoice of games
4 C, 4 Dsplinter, ST
4 Hsign-off

*only way to show spades, so 3 S is not a splinter.


1 S
?
Pass2 SPass

622 NTAF, asking
3 C, 3 D, 3 H4+ cards, ST
Otheranalogous to above


After the artificial ask, if dummy has a suit with secondary values (3+ cards with king, queen or both) he shows it regardless of strength; otherwise he defines strength.

1 H
2 S
Pass
Pass
2 H
?
Pass

632 NT •spade values
3 C, 3 Dvalues in suit bid
3 Hminimum
3 S •maximum, flat (4-3-3-3), suggests 3 NT
4 Hmaximum


1 S
2 NT
Pass
Pass
2 S
?
Pass

643 C, 3 D, 3 Hvalues in suit bid
3 Sminimum
3 NTmaximum, flat (4-3-3-3), NF
4 Smaximum


When dummy shows secondary values, asker may base his decision on that or inquire further.

1 H
2 S
?
Pass
Pass
2 H
3 C
Pass
Pass

653 Drelay, asks if min or max
3 Hturned off by club values
3 NTchoice of games
4 Hsign-off


After interference

If an opponent bids after our raise from 1 to 2, the relay structure is off; game tries are then made in the traditional manner by bidding a different suit. Note that interference before our raise and doubles of any kind change nothing.


Opener's Reverse Bid

After a 1 C, 1 D or 1 H opening and a non-touching 1-level response, opener's 2-level bid in a suit between (i.e., higher than suit opened but nonjump) shows 17+ points and is forcing. Opener shows 9+ cards in his two suits, typically 5-4, but 6-3 is plausible on awkward hands.

1 C
2 D
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
Pass

662 H6-10, 5+ hearts, F
2 S11+, nondescript, GF
2 NT6-10, not 5 hearts, F
3 C, 3 D, 3 H11+, natural, GF
3 NT11-12, NF


Opener's next bid

After a reverse, opener is required to bid again below game. If responder shows a weak range and opener has less than GF values, opener must bid 2 NT (if available), 3 of his original suit (even with only 5 cards), or raise responder's 5+ major to 3.


Fourth Suit Bids

Except the usual "fourth suit forcing" and cases specifically described, bidding the fourth suit (for the first time) shows the ace or shortness. If below 3 NT, partner assumes the ace and may bid 3 NT without a stopper, which fourth-suit bidder removes if based on shortness.

1 H
2 C
?
Pass
Pass
1 S
3 C
Pass
Pass

673 Dace or shortness
Othernatural


1 D
2 D
3 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
2 C
2 H
?
Pass
Pass

683 Sace or shortness
Othernatural

On either auction the fourth suit must not be bid as a waiting or groping maneuver. With no ideal natural bid, use suit strength as a guide to choose the best rival.


Passed Hand Changes

If partner is a passed hand, a number of changes apply, most of which are obvious. Opening bids of 1 of a suit may be light (10+) and 1 H or 1 S may be a good 4 card suit.

Normally forcing responses (1-over-1, 1 NT response to major, 2 C over 1 D, 2 H over 1 S, inverted minors) are now limited. Opener should pass with 12 or less, and may pass with 13. If opener does bid again, his rebids retain their normal meaning, including F/NF status.

A 2 NT response to a minor shows 11-12 HCP, invitational. Any rebid by opener below game (including 3 of his minor) is forcing.

A 3 C response to 1 D, 1 H or 1 S shows 8-11 HCP and 6+ clubs, NF of course, but any rebid by opener below game is forcing. (This only applies in clubs because other suits would have been opened a weak two-bid.)

Cue-bid (P P 1 D 1 S; 2 S) shows stopper but opener's 2 NT or same suit says no game.


Subsequent bidding

Responders second-round jump bids and raises to 3 of a minor (normally forcing) are now invitational.

Fourth suit forcing and new minor forcing still apply; being a passed hand just allows more ways to invite.

Third suit forcing does not apply but shows a natural 2-suiter (invitational).


Two-Way Reverse Drury

After a 1 H or 1 S opening in third or fourth seat, responses of 2 C and 2 D are artificial raises.

Pass
?
Pass1 HPassanalogous for 1 S opening

692 C11+, 3 hearts
2 D11+, 4 hearts
2 H7-10, 3+ hearts
3 H11-12, 5 hearts
4 Hweak, extreme shape

Note: Drury does not apply in competition.


Rebids by opener

Pass
2 C
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
Passanalogous for all Drury responses

702 of majorno game interest
Belowminimal game interest
Abovegame try structure


Competitive One of Suit

After Takeout Double

If our opening bid of 1 of a suit is doubled for takeout, the following changes apply:


1 DDbl?

71Pass0-9, or 10-14*
Rdbl10+ HCP, implies no fit, creates force
1 H, 1 S, 1 NTunchanged
2 C6-10, 6+ clubs (good 5), NF
2 NT9-11, natural, based on fit, I
3 NT12-15, natural, based on fit, NF
Higherunchanged


1 SDbl?

72Pass0-9, or 10-14*
Rdbl10+ HCP, implies no fit, creates force
1 NT6-10, balanced, NF
2 C, 2 D, 2 H6-10, 6+ cards (good 5), NF
2 NT10-12, 4+ fit (rare 3)
2 S, 3 C D Hunchanged
3 S6-9, 4+ fit
Higherunchanged

*if intention is to make a cooperative double next

Note that minor raises, weak jump shifts, 3 NT major raise and splinters are unchanged.


Subsequent bidding

A takeout double in itself does not affect our rebid structure after any response that is unchanged. If either opponent bids after the double, then we revert to a "limit structure."


After Suit Overcall

If our opening bid of 1 of a suit is overcalled in a natural unbid suit, the following changes apply.


After a minor opening

1 C1 D?

73Dbl6+, at least 4-4 majors
1 NT7-10, stopper
Cue •13+, balanced, stopper, GF
2 NT11-12, stopper, I
Jump cue13+, splinter raise
3 NT9-12, natural, based on fit
Otherunchanged


1 C1 H?analogous for 1 D opening

74Dbl6+, 4 spades
1 S6+, 5+ spades, F
2 D10+, 5+ diamonds, F
Othersame as above


1 C1 S?analogous for 1 D opening

75Dbl7+, 4+ hearts
2 D, 2 H10+, 5+ cards, F
Othersame as above


1 D2 C?

76Dbl7+, at least 1 major
2 H, 2 S10+, 5+ cards, F
2 NT10-12, stopper, I
Othersame as above

Note that inverted minor raises and weak jump shifts are unchanged.


After a major opening

1 H1 S?

77Dbl7+, at least 4-4 minors
1 NT7-10, stopper
2 C, 2 D10+, 5+ cards, F
Cue •13+, balanced, stopper, GF
2 NT11-12, stopper, I
Jump cue13+, splinter raise
4 C, 4 D •weak, natural
Otherunchanged


1 H2 C?analogous for 2 D overcall

78Dbl7+, 4+ spades
2 D, 2 S10+, 5+ cards, F
2 NT10-12, stopper, I
3 S, 4 D •weak, natural
Othersame as above

Note that splinter bids in competition only apply in enemy suits.

Negative doubles apply thru 4 H after a minor opening, or 4 D after a major opening.


Rebids after a negative double

After a negative double it is opener's duty to select the contract. With no clear bid it is better to bid a 3 card suit that responder might have than to rebid a 5 card suit already shown. Opener should rebid at the cheapest level with 13-15, jump with 16-18 (invitational below game) or cue-bid as the only force (GF). Passing for penalty is also a viable option at the 2 level with 4+ trumps.

1 D
?
1 SDblPassanalogous for many sequences

791 NT, 2 C D H13-15, natural, NF
2 S19+, nondescript, GF
2 NT*, 3 C D H16-18, I
3 NT19+, NF

*may be off-shape hence 16-17 is possible


If responder bids again after a negative double, assuming opener has not shown extras, only a cue-bid is forcing (GF). Preferences and new suit bids are NF; 2 NT, raises, and jumps below game are invitational.

1 C
2 C
1 S
Pass
Dbl
?
Passanalogous for many sequences

802 D, 2 H7-9, 5+ cards, NF
2 S13+, nondescript, GF
2 NT10-12, stopper, I
3 C10-12, Q-x or better, I
3 D, 3 H10-12, 6+ cards, I
3 S13+, splinter raise
3 NT13+, stopper, NF


Rebids after a 2-over-1 response

Competitive 2-over-1 responses (10+) are forcing for one round (think Acol). If opener rebids his original suit, bids 2 NT or raises responder's suit, it is NF and confirms minimum values. New suits are forcing for another round. Only a cue-bid or jump below game creates a GF.

1 D
?
1 S2 HPassanalogous for many sequences

812 S16+, nondescript, GF
2 NT, 3 D, 3 Hminimum, NF
3 Cany strength, 4+ clubs, F
3 S16+, splinter raise
3 NT15-19, NF
4 C, 4 D16+, extreme shape, F
4 H15-17, NF


After Two-Suited Overcall

After our opening bid of 1 of a suit, these structures apply if an opponent makes an overcall that shows two suits, at least one of which is known. Michaels and unusual 2 NT are the most common, but many others exist.

1 C2 C1?
1. both majors

82Dbl10+ HCP, creates force
2 D7-10, 6+ diamonds (rare 5), NF
2 H •11+, club raise
2 S •11+, 5+ diamonds
2 NT9-11, based on fit, I
3 C7-10, 4+ clubs, NF
3 D, 4 Cweak, natural, NF
3 H, 3 S13+, splinter raise
3 NT12-14, based on fit, NF


1 H2 H1?
1. spades + minor

83Dbl10+ HCP, creates force
2 S •11+, heart raise
2 NT9-11, based on fit, I
3 C, 3 D7-10, 6+ cards, NF
3 H7-10, 3+ hearts
3 S13+, splinter raise
3 NT12-14, based on fit, NF
4 C, 4 D, 4 Hweak, natural, NF


1 H2 NT1?
1. both minors

84Dbl10+ HCP, creates force
3 C •11+, heart raise
3 D •11+, 5+ spades
3 H7-10, 3+ hearts, NF
3 S7-10, 6+ spades (rare 5), NF
3 NT10-14, based on fit, NF
4 C, 4 D13+, splinter raise
4 H, 4 Sweak, natural, NF

Note that the cheaper cue is always a raise of opener, and the higher cue (if both enemy suits known) shows the fourth suit.


Subsequent bidding

After the higher cue, if opener rebids in notrump or his original suit, this confirms a minimum and is NF. A "raise" of responder's indicated suit is forcing below game.

After doubling, if responder next bids a new suit or a suit shown by the enemy, it is natural and forcing below game.

If responder passes the two-suited overcall and later bids a suit shown by the enemy, it is natural and NF.


After One Notrump Overcall

After our opening bid of 1 of a suit and a natural 1 NT overcall (regardless of strength) the following changes apply.

1 C1 NT?

85Dbl10+ HCP, creates force
2 C •6+, both majors
2 D, 2 H, 2 S6-9, 6+ cards (good 5), NF
2 NT10+, any 2-suiter, AF
Higherunchanged


1 D1 NT?

862 C6-9, 6+ clubs (good 5)
2 D •6+, both majors
Othersame as above

Note that majors are shown by a minor "raise" and the unbid minor is natural.


1 H1 NT?analogous for 1 S opening

87Dbl10+ HCP, creates force
2 C, 2 D, 2 S6-9, 6+ cards (good 5)
2 H, 3 H, 4 Hunchanged
3 C, 3 Dunchanged
2 NT10+, any 2-suiter, AF
3 S, 4 C, 4 D •weak, natural


Competitive Doubles

Many doubles below 3 NT, while traditionally penalty, are better played as competitive to show a desire to compete without clear direction. Unfortunately, these situations can't be chosen at whim, because penalty doubles are important too. Firm agreements are essential to avoid misunderstandings.

A prerequisite for any competitive double is that we are not in a force, i.e., we have not redoubled or otherwise indicated partnership assets of 23+ HCP where a pass would be forcing.

Given the above, all doubles at the 1 level are competitive unless defined otherwise.

For a double at the 2 or 3 level to be competitive, four more conditions must be met:

881All four players have acted (bid or doubled)
2We have not bid notrump
3We have not raised a suit
4No enemy action was in balancing seat


Competitive doubles are often misused, so counter examples are more beneficial:

1 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
1 S
Dbl
2 Cpenalty (only one opponent acted)


1 D
1 NT
Pass
2 S
1 H
Dbl
1 Spenalty (we bid notrump)


1 H
Dbl
2 C2 H3 Cpenalty (we raised a suit)


1 C
2 C
Dbl
Dbl
Pass
1 S
Pass
Pass
2 H
penalty (opponent balanced)


The minimum strength for a competitive double is about 3 points more than previously shown. There is no upper limit, so the double is also a convenient tool on game-going hands.


Subsequent bidding

Partner of competitive doubler should choose the contract from alternatives suggested by the bidding. Any nonjump (even a new suit) is NF; jumps below game are invitational. Passing the double is a viable option with 4 trumps, or three trumps at the 3 level.


Maximal double

An exception to Condition 3 occurs when we have raised a major and cannot make a game try because the enemy bid the touching lower suit. Condition 1, however, is not changed (both opponents must have acted).

1 S
?
Dbl2 S3 H

89Dblgame try
3 Scompetitive


Cooperative Doubles

A cooperative double is a penalty suggestion at the 2 or 3 level. Doubler typically has 3+ cards in the suit doubled but not a trump stack. The following doubles are cooperative:

901After eschewing a redouble or force-double
2After partner redoubled or made a force-double
3Balancing seat in front of the opponent who bid
4Of a suit in which 4 cards were denied
5After a competitive double at previous turn


1 H
Pass
Dbl
2 D
Pass
Dbl
1 NTcooperative

The failure to redouble does not limit responder's strength but rules out a trump stack.


1 S
Dbl
DblRdbl2 Hcooperative


1 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
1 S
Dbl
2 Ccooperative


1 C
Pass
Pass
2 H
1 NT
Dbl
Dblcooperative


1 C
Dbl
Dbl
Pass
Pass
1 H
2 C
1 S
2 S
cooperative


After a cooperative double

Partner should remove a cooperative double with a singleton or void in the enemy suit, or with a shapely hand unsuitable for defense. Limit bidding principles apply.


Competitive Limit Style

After our 1-over-1 response, the system dictates a "forcing style" without interference (or if the only interference is a takeout double) in that responder's second-round jumps in previously bid suits and raises to 3 of a minor are GF. Once an opponent bids this reverts to a "limit style" where all such bids are invitational, and a cue-bid becomes a general GF.

1 C
2 C
1 H
Pass
1 S
?
Passanalogous for many auctions

912 D11+, 4+ diamonds (rare 3), F
2 H13+, nondescript, GF
2 S6-10, 6+ spades, NF
2 NT10-12, stopper, I
3 C10-12, Q-x or better, I
3 D13+, at least 5-5, GF
3 H15+, splinter raise, GF
3 S11-12, 6+ spades, I
3 NT13-16, stopper, NF
4 C10-12, great fit, I


New minor forcing applies in competition, but alternative rebids follow the limit style.

1 C
1 NT
Pass
Pass
1 H
?
1 Sanalogous for similar auctions

922 C, 2 Hnatural, sign-off attempt
2 D11+, AF, checkback
2 S13+, nondescript, GF
2 NT, 3 C, 3 Hnatural, I
3 D13+, at least 5-5, GF
3 S16+, self-splinter, agrees hearts, GF
3 NT, 4 Hsign-off
4 C11-12, extreme shape, I


Higher Opening Bids

Two Club Opening

An opening bid of 2 C is strong, artificial and forcing, typically 23+ points or within a trick of game in hand.

Responder must categorize his HCP range.

2 CPass?

932 D0-4 HCP (no ace) or 8+ HCP or A+K
2 H5-7 HCP or an ace (no A+K)


After two-diamond response

Responder is presumed to have 0-4 HCP for all rebids. With 8+ HCP (or ace + king) he bids the same as with 0-4 under game but must continue voluntarily past game to show it.

2 C
?
Pass2 DPass

942 H* •5+ hearts or 25+ HCP balanced
2 S, 3 C, 3 D5+ cards, F
2 NT23-24, balanced, NF (system on)
3 NT •6+ card minor, game in hand, NF

*forces 2 S (Kokish relay)


2 C
2 H
?
Pass
Pass
2 D
2 S
Pass
Pass

952 NT25+, balanced, GF (system on)
3 C, 3 D, 3 S4+ cards, 5+ hearts, F
3 H, 4 H6+ hearts, NF
3 NT5-6 hearts, balanced or semi, NF


2 C
2 S
Pass
Pass
2 D
?
Pass

962 NTwaiting
3 C, 3 D, 3 H5+ cards
3 S3+ spades
4 C, 4 D, 4 Hsplinter raise
4 S2-4 HCP, 4+ spades, no side-suit control


2 C
3 C
Pass
Pass
2 D
?
Pass

973 Dwaiting
3 H, 3 S5+ cards
3 NT •5+ diamonds, NF
4 C3+ clubs
4 D, 4 H, 4 Ssplinter raise


2 C
3 D
Pass
Pass
2 D
?
Pass

983 H •waiting
3 S5+ spades
3 NT •5+ hearts, NF
4 C6+ clubs
4 D3+ diamonds
4 H, 4 Ssplinter raise


After two-heart response

2 C
?
Pass2 HPass

992 S, 3 C D H5+ cards, GF
2 NT23+ HCP balanced, GF (system on)
3 NT6+ card minor, game in hand, NF

*Responder continues similarly: cheapest bid waiting; otherwise natural (except 3 NT shows 5+ in waiting suit); splinter jumps.


After interference

2 CDbl?

100Pass3+ clubs
Rdbl4+ clubs (Q-10-x-x or better)
Otherunchanged


2 C2 S?analogous for other overcalls

101Dblpenalty (Q-10-x-x or better)
2 NT5+, stopper
3 C, 3 D, 3 H5+ HCP, 5+ cards
3 S5+ HCP, 3-suiter, short spades


2 C
?
2 SPassPassanalogous for other overcalls

102Dblpenalty
2 NT23-24, balanced, NF
3 C, 3 D, 3 H5+ cards, F
3 S3-suiter, short spades
3 NT*25-28, balanced, NF
4 NT*29-30, balanced, NF

*if responder bids again, follow opening 2 NT structure 1 or 2 levels higher.

All doubles by opener or responder are penalty, and all direct passes are forcing.

If opener bids an enemy shown suit that he could not double for penalty, it is natural (enemy bid likely a psych).

If responder has not acted, a suit bid by opener below game is forcing; cheapest response is an artificial waiting bid.


Weak Two Bids

An opening bid of 2 D, 2 H or 2 S shows 5-10 HCP. Style is undisciplined but sensible. Good 5 cards suits (typically 3 of top 5 cards) are acceptable at any vulnerability, and decent 5 cards suits when nonvulnerable.

2 DPass?analogous for 2 H or 2 S opening

1032 H, 2 S12-17, 6+ cards (rare 5), NF
2 NT15+, AF
3 C12-17, 6+ cards, NF
3 D, 4 D, 5 Dblocking, NF
3 H, 3 Sself-sufficient suit, I
3 NTnatural, NF
4 H, 4 S, 5 Csign-off


2 D
?
Pass2 NTPass

1043 Conly 5 diamonds, AF
3 Dminimum
3 H, 3 Sstopper in bid, max
3 NTno major stopper, max
4 C, 4 Dnatural, extreme shape


2 H
?
Pass2 NTPass

1053 Conly 5 hearts, AF
3 Daverage or max, AF
3 Hworst hand
3 S4 spades
3 NTA-K-J-x-x-x or better
4 C, 4 Dnatural, at least 6-4
4 Hself-sufficient suit


2 S
?
Pass2 NTPass

1063 H4 hearts
3 Sworst hand
Otheranalogous to above


Rebids by 2NT responder

1073 D over 3 Casks if min/max
3 M over 3 Dasks to pass if average, bid on if max
Other suitnatural, F below game
3 NToptional sign-off (opener may correct)


Competitive agreements

2 DDbl?analogous for 2 H or 2 S opening

108Pass*0+ (unlimited)
Rdblstrong, creates force
New suitnatural, may be weak, NF
Otherunchanged

*if followed by double below 3 NT it is cooperative


2 H2 S?analogous for similar sequences

109Dblpenalty
Cuecontrol, ST
Otherunchanged


2 H
?
Pass2 NT3 Danalogous for similar sequences

110Passminimum
Dblreasonable defense
Bidnatural, offense oriented


Preemptive Openings

Opening suit bids of 3 C thru 5 D are weak, roughly by the rule of 2, 3 or 4+ per vulnerability.

New suit responses are forcing (below game) except over a double.


Three Notrump Opening

An opening bid of 3 NT is forcing, showing any self-sufficient suit with 9+ playing tricks. If suit is a minor, shape is usually extreme since 3 NT is ruled out as a contract. Strength is typically 11-16 HCP but unlimited; many one-suiters usually opened 2 C are better opened 3 NT.

3 NTPass?

1114 C •exactly 1 ace, F
4 D •no aces (assumed) or 2 aces, F
4 H, 4 S7+ cards (strong 6), at most 1 ace, NF
4 NT •3 aces, F to slam


3 NT
?
Pass4 CPass

1124 D •strength ask (slam possible)
4 H, 4 Ssign-off
4 NT •asks which ace (responder bids it)
5 C, 5 Dsign-off


3 NT
4 D
Pass
Pass
4 C
?
Pass

1134 H •nothing extra
4 S •something extra
4 NT •much extra with S A
5 C, 5 D, 5 H •much extra with that ace

Opener then places contract or bids 4 NT to ask which ace.


3 NT
?
Pass4 DPass

1144 H, 4 Sreal suit, NF
4 NT •strength ask* (slam possible if aceless)
5 C, 5 Dreal suit, NF

*3 steps: nothing, something, much

If responder has 2 aces, he must continue by bidding a non-ace suit to pinpoint locations. Opener then signs off without control in that suit, bids slam, or uses the cheapest available other bid as a 3-step strength ask.


Competitive agreements

3 NTDbl?

115Pass*no ace, no likely tricks
Rdbl1 ace + defensive strength
Otherunchanged

*allows stopping in 4 C or 4 D if opener bids it


3 NT4 H?analogous for any overcall

116Pass*nondescript
Dbltrump stack, penalty
Cheapest suit1 ace
Other suitnatural, NF
Cheapest NT2 aces, F
5 NT jump3 aces, F

*Opener must always to compete at 4 level but may elect not to risk 5 level.


Defense to One of Suit

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, immediate actions are summarized below.

1 C?

117Dbl13+, takeout
1 D, 1 H, 1 S10-18, 5+ cards
1 NT*15-18, balanced, stopper
Cueboth majors
Jump cuestrong 1-suiter
DJ cueboth majors, extreme shape
Other suit jumpweak
2 NTtwo lowest unbid
3 NT15-20, based on long suit
4 NTtwo lowest unbid, extreme shape

*Respond as to 1 NT opening, including interference agreements if next opponent acts.


1 D?

1182 C13-18, 5+ cards
Othersame as above


1 H?

1192 C, 2 D13-18, 5+ cards
Cuespades + minor
DJ cuespades + minor, extreme shape
Othersame as above


1 S?

1202 C, 2 D, 2 H13-18, 5+ cards
Otheranalogous to above


Takeout Doubles

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, a takeout double shows 13-18 points with 3+ cards in each unbid suit, or 19+ points. With major-suit hopes it is permissible to have only a doubleton in an unbid minor.

1 CDblPass?

1211 D, 1 H, 1 S0-9, 4+ cards (rare 3)
1 NT6-10, stopper
Cue10+, F until raise or game
2 D10-12, 5+ cards, I
2 H, 2 S10-12, 4+ cards, I
2 NT11-12, stopper, I
3 D, 3 H, 3 S6-9, 6+ cards, NF
3 NT13-16, stopper
4 H, 4 S13-16, 5+ cards
5 D13-16, 7+ cards


1 DDblPass?

1222 C0-9, 5+ cards (rare 4)
3 C10-12, 5+ cards, I
4 C6-9, 7+ cards
Otheranalogous to above


1 HDblPass?

1232 C, 2 D0-9, 4+ cards
3 C, 3 D10-12, 5+ cards, I
4 C, 4 D6-9, 7+ cards
Otheranalogous to above


1 SDblPass?

1242 H0-9, 4+ cards
3 H10-12, 4+ cards, I
Otheranalogous to above


After a redouble

1 CDblRdbl?analogous for any suit opening

125Passno preference or 10+
Unbid suitweak (any level)
Otherunchanged

Pass followed by a voluntary action shows 10-12 range.


After a bid

If our takeout double is followed by any bid below 2 NT, including a new suit, 1 NT or raise, the following agreements apply.

126Dblresponsive*
Suit bid6-9
Suit jump10+, I below game

*minor takeout if both minors unbid

Note that bidding RHO's suit (1 C Dbl 1 H 2 H) is natural like any other. Only opener's suit is a cue-bid.

After a major raise, responsive doubles are extended thru 3 S. This includes the double of an artificial major raise at the 3 level.


Suit Overcalls

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, a nonjump suit overcall shows 10-18 points (13-18 at 2 level) and a 5+ card suit. A strong 4 card suit may be bid at the 1 level with 13-18 points if no other action is appropriate.

1 C1 HPass?analogous for any 1-level overcall

1271 S, 2 D8-12, 5+ cards, NF
1 NT8-11, stopper, NF
Cue11+ if fit, 13+ if not
2 H7-10, 3+ cards
2 S, 3 D12-14, 6+ cards, I
2 NT12-14, stopper, I
Jump cue11+, 4+ hearts
3 Hweak (4-7), 4+ cards
3 S, 4 D12-14, 7+ cards, I
3 NT15-18, stopper
DJ cuesplinter, ST


1 S2 DPass?analogous for any 2-level overcall

1282 NT9-11, stopper, I
Jump new suitnatural, F below game
3 D7-10, 3+ cards
3 NT12-15, stopper
4 Dweak (4-7), 4+ cards
Otheranalogous to above


Rebids by overcaller

Unless forced or invited, overcaller generally should pass with 10-12; may act again with 13-15, and should act again with 16-18.

A second-round bid in opener's minor is a cue-bid only if partner has acted; otherwise it is natural showing a 2-suiter.


1 C
Pass
1 S
?
Pass2 Canalogous for cue-bid response to any overcall

129Same suitminimum, nondescript, NF
Below sameambiguous, natural, F
Above sameaccept, natural, F (below game)


After a negative double

1 C1 HDbl?analogous for any 1-level overcall

130Rdbl11+, implies no fit, creates force
Cue11+, shows fit
2 NT8-10, 4+ card fit
Otherunchanged


1 S2 DDbl?analogous for any 2-level overcall

1312 NTunchanged
Otheranalogous to above


After a bid

If our nonjump suit overcall is followed by any bid below 2 NT, including a new suit, 1 NT or raise, the following agreements apply.

132Dblresponsive*
Cue11+, shows fit, stopper if choice of cues
Otherunchanged

*implies doubleton support if only 1 unbid suit

After a major raise, responsive doubles are extended thru 3 S. This includes the double of an artificial major raise at the 3 level.


Weak Jump Overcalls

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, all jumps in unbid suits are weak, roughly by the rule of 2, 3 or 4+ per vulnerability.

1 C2 HPass?analogous for any 2-level jump overcall

133Cueasks for stopper
Otherweak two-bid structure

Also use weak two-bid structure if RHO acts.


Two-Suited Overcalls

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, a cue-bid (Michaels) shows both majors over a minor, or the unbid major plus either minor over a major; an overcall of 2 NT (unusual) shows the two lowest unbid suits. Shape is at least 5-5 (5-4 after cue of minor) and strength is either weak (5-11 HCP) or strong (16+ HCP). With in-between hands (12-15 HCP) overcall in one suit and bid the other.

1 C2 CPass?

1342 D6+ cards, NF
2 H, 2 Spreference
2 NTgame or ST, F
Cueasks for stopper
3 D6+ cards, I
3 H, 3 Sweak, 4+ cards
3 NTnatural, NF
4 H, 4 Sweak or to make


1 D2 DPass?

1353 C6+ cards, NF
4 C6+ cards, I
Otheranalogous to above


1 H2 HPass?

1362 Spreference
3 Cpass or correct to 3 D
3 D6+ cards, NF
4 C, 4 D6+ cards, I
Otheranalogous to above

Note that only the cheapest club bid is "pass or correct."


1 S2 SPass?

1373 Hpreference
Otheranalogous to above


1 D2 NTPass?analogous for any suit opening

1383 C, 3 Hpreference
Cueasks for stopper
3 S6+ cards, NF
3 NTnatural, NF
4 C, 4 H, 5 Cweak or to make


Rebids by two-suited overcaller

1 C
Pass
2 C
?
Pass2 NTanalogous for 1 D 2 D

1393 Clonger hearts
3 Dlonger spades
3 Hworst, 5-5
3 Snot worst, 5-5, F


1 H
Pass
2 H
?
Pass2 NTanalogous for 1 S 2 S

1403 C, 3 Dworst, natural, NF
3 Hnot worst, clubs
3 Snot worst, diamonds, F


1 H
Pass
2 NT
?
Pass3 Hanalogous for any suit opening

1413 NTstopper (in cue)
Cheapest realworst
Othernot worst


If two-suited overcaller bids again when not forced or invited:

1 D
Pass
2 D
?
Pass2 Hanalogous for similar auctions

142Shown suitweak range, extra shape, I
2 NT, 3 NT16+ HCP, stopper
Cue16+ HCP, splinter
Other suit16+ HCP, 3 cards


After a double

1 H2 HDbl?analogous for any two-suited overcall

143Passno clear preference
Rdblstrong, creates force
3 C •6+ cards, NF
Otherunchanged


After a bid

1 D2 D3 D?analogous for cases with both our suits known

144Dblpenalty*
Shown suitcompetitive, NF
Other suit6+ cards, NF
Cueasks for stopper (below 3 NT)
Cue above 3 NTcontrol, ST
Jump shownI if below game

*lead directing if cue of our suit


1 H2 H3 H?analogous for cases with only one major known

145Shown majorcompetitive, NF
Cheapest minorcompetitive, pass or correct
Otheranalogous to above


Three-Level Cue Overcall

After an enemy opening of 1 of a suit, a 3-level cue-bid as our side's first action shows a 1-suited hand (not suit bid) with 9+ playing tricks and at most 1 loser in the long suit. Typically this is to seek a stopper for 3 NT. If overcaller bids 4 H or 4 S next, he confirms a splinter in the cue-bid suit, else start with double.

1 C3 CPass?

1463 D •no ace, no stopper
3 H, 3 S6+ cards, F
3 NTstopper
4 C •1 ace, no stopper
4 D •2 aces*
4 H, 4 S7+ cards, NF
4 NT •king stopper + 1 ace, NF


1 D3 DPass?

1474 C •no ace, no stopper
4 D •1 ace, no stopper
5 C •2 aces*
Otheranalogous to above


1 H3 HPass?analogous for 1 S 3 S

148Cue •2 aces*
Otheranalogous to above

*Showing 2 aces overrides stopper showing, since suit game should be assured, and slam likely.


After interference

1 H3 HDbl?analogous for any opening

149Passno stopper, no values
Rdblace in that suit
Other*unchanged

*except cheapest minor shows at least a king, else pass


1 D3 D3 S?analogous for any 3-level bid

150Passweak
Dblpenalty (trump stack)
3 NTstopper in opener's suit
4 C •1 ace, no stopper
4 D •2 aces
Otherunchanged


After Two Enemy Bids

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit and an enemy response, most actions are the same as immediately over the suit opened, in which case responding structures would be the same too. The following differences apply.

1 CPass1 H?analogous for any suit response of 1

1512 H13-18, 5+ good hearts
2 NTsame as 2 C but more shape
3 Hsame as 3 C but related to hearts

Respond to any of above with related structures.


1 SPass2 D?analogous for any forcing response of 2

1522 H, 3 C11+, 5+ good cards
Otheranalogous to above


1 HPass2 H?analogous for any raise thru 3 S

153Nonjump suit11+, 5+ good cards
Jump 3 suit6+ cards, 8 tricks, I
Jump 4 C, 4 Dnatural + lower unbid major
Cue 4 levelhighest + other


Subsequent bidding

After a takeout double with two enemy suits shown:

1 C
Pass
Pass
?
1 SDblanalogous for 1 D opening

154Any club bidnatural
Otherunchanged


Responsive doubles do not apply.

If two cue-bids are available, the one chosen shows a stopper.


Additional Agreements

After an enemy opening bid of 1 of a suit, the following structures (defined earlier) apply in full if the conditions are met.

1551major suit game tries
2competitive doubles
3cooperative doubles


Belated doubles

If opponents have made at least two bids (but not all four suits) and we have not acted, our second-round or later double is:

156Raised suittakeout thru 4 D
Suit directtakeout thru 2 D
Suit balancingtakeout thru 2 S
1 NT directtakeout
1 NT balancingtakeout if both majors unbid

Otherwise a second-round or later double is penalty (implying previous trap pass) or lead-directing.


Passed hand changes

Any action by a passed hand keeps its normal shape context, but strength is limited by failure to open.

Exception: Direct 1 NT overcall shows the two lowest unbid suits (at least 5-4).


Other Defensive Bidding

Defense to Notrump Openings

After an enemy 1 NT opening bid, regardless of strength, a modified version of Astro is used.

1 NT?

157Dbl16+ HCP, optional
2 C •hearts + any other
2 Dspades + any other
2 H, 2 S6+ cards
2 NT •both majors or both minors
3 C, 3 D6+ cards
Higher suit6+ strong cards, 1 trick shy of bid

All bids suggest 9-15 HCP, but this is flexible per shape and vulnerability.

Two-suiters imply at least 5-4 shape (either way) but may be 4-4-4-1 (three suits).

With both majors bid 2 C with only 4 spades; 2 D with 5+ spades and 4+ hearts; or 2 NT with at least 5-5 and decent game prospects.


1 NTDblPass?

158Pass5+ HCP or no 5+ card suit
Suit bidweak, 5+ cards
2 NTany 2-suiter, F until raise or game
Jump suit5-7 HCP, 6+ cards, I


1 NT2 CPass?

159Pass6+ clubs, misfit expected
2 Dnot 3+ hearts
2 H3+ hearts
2 S6+ spades
2 NTonly force, game try
3 C, 3 D, 3 S6+ cards, I
3 H5-7 HCP, 4+ hearts, I


1 NT2 DPass?

1602 Hnot 3+ spades
2 S3+ spades
3 C6+ clubs
3 D, 3 H6+ cards, I
Otheranalogous to above


1 NT2 Hanyanalogous for 2 S overcall

161Any callweak two-bid structure


1 NT2 NTPass?

1623 C, 3 Ddiscouraging, assuming minors
3 H, 3 Sdiscouraging, assuming majors
3 NT •AF, asks definition and range*
4 C, 4 Dnatural, I, assuming minors
4 H, 4 Sto play, assuming majors

*lower real suit = minimum, higher = extras

If 2 NT bidder has unassumed genre he must bid again; suit bids logical; 3 NT (forcing) shows extras.


Rebids by Astro bidder

1 NT
Pass
2 C
?
Pass2 D

163Passdiamonds
2 H5 hearts, 2nd suit black
2 S •3-4 spades, only 4 hearts, 4+ minor*
2 NT •both minors (3 suits)
3 C5+ clubs
3 D5+ diamonds, I
3 H, 4 C, 4 D6+ cards, I

*usually clubs but may be good 4=4=4=1


1 NT
Pass
2 D
?
Pass2 H

164Passhearts
2 S5 spades, either minor
2 NTboth minors (3 suits)
3 C, 3 D5+ cards
3 H •4 hearts, 5+ spades, I
3 S, 4 C, 4 D6+ cards, I


1 NT
Pass
2 C
?
Pass2 NT

1653 C, 3 Dminimum, natural
3 H •minimum, 4 spades
3 S •extras, 3-4 spades
3 NT •extras, clubs or diamonds
4 C, 4 Dextras, natural, extreme shape


1 NT
Pass
2 D
?
Pass2 NT

1663 C, 3 D, 3 Hminimum, natural
3 S •extras, 4 hearts
3 NT •extras, clubs or diamonds
4 C, 4 Dextras, natural, extreme shape


Rebids by Astro responder

1 NT
Pass
2 C
2 H
Pass
Pass
2 D
?

1672 S •3+ spades, seeking other suit
2 NT •both minors, please choose
3 C, 3 D6+ cards, NF


1 NT
Pass
2 D
2 S
Pass
Pass
2 H
?

1683 H6+ cards, NF
Othersame as above


In balancing seat

If an enemy 1 NT opening is followed by two passes, Astro structure still applies, but minimum strength is lowered.

1 NTPassPass?

169Dbl14+ HCP, optional
All bids7-15 HCP


After interference

1 NT2 CDbl?

170Passclub preference
Rdbl •5+ diamonds (allows rescue to 2 D)
2 Ddiamond preference
Otherunchanged


1 NT2 DDbl?

171Passdiamond preference
Rdbl •5+ hearts (allows rescue to 2 H)
2 Hheart preference
Otherunchanged


1 NT2 C2 S?analogous for other bids

172Dblpenalty
2 NTunchanged
Known suitcompetitive
Cheapest suitpass or correct
Other suit6+ cards, NF
Cueasks for stopper (below 3 NT)
Cue past 3 NTcontrol, ST (known fit)
Jump suit6+ cards, I below game


1 NT2 NTDbl?

173Passweak (normal)
Rdblat least 1 ace
3 suit •1-suited rescue (misfit expected)
Otherunchanged


1 NT2 NT3 D?analogous for other bids

174Dblpenalty (assumes opposite genre)
3 suitcompetitive, NF, fit exists somewhere
Otherunchanged


Other applications

Astro also applies, direct or balancing, in the following situations provided no specific suit has been shown.

17512 NT or 3 NT opening
21 NT, 2 NT or 3 NT response to artificial opening
31 NT, 2 NT or 3 NT rebid after two artificial bids


Defense to Weak Openings

The following agreements apply when an opponent opens with a natural, nonforcing suit bid from 2 C thru 5 D, regardless of the strength shown by opener.

2 C?analogous for 2 D opening

176Dbl13+, takeout
Unbid suit13-18, 6+ (good 5) cards
2 NT16-18 (system on)
Cue3-level cue overcall
3 NT15-20, usually long suit (natural resp.)
Jump cue •spades + other
4 other minor •natural + hearts, NF
Jump suitnatural, 1 trick shy of bid
4 NTtwo lowest unbid


2 H?analogous for 2 S opening

1774 C, 4 D •natural + unbid major, NF
Jump cueunbid major + minor
Othersame as above


3 C?analogous for 3 D opening

178Dbl14+, takeout
Unbid suit13-18, 6+ (good 5) cards
3 NT15-20, varied (natural resp.)
Cue •spades + other
4 D over 3 C •diamonds + hearts
4 NTtwo lowest unbid
Jump suitnatural, 1 trick shy of bid


3 H?analogous for 3 S opening

179Cueother major + minor
Othersame as above


4 C?analogous for 4 D opening

180Dbl15+, takeout
Cuespades + other, slam I
Othersame as above


4 H?analogous for 4 S, 5 C, 5 D

181Dbl15+, optional*
Unbid suit13-20, 6+ cards
4 NT over 4 Hminors
4 NT over 4 S •any 2-suiter; rarely 3-suiter with void
Cuehighest unbid + another, slam I+

*Usually pull with 6+ suit (5+ spades) or 5-5.


Responding agreements

Lebensohl after we double enemy 2-bid.

No responsive doubles; all doubles penalty.


Lead-Directing Doubles

Doubles of artificial suit bids are lead-directing unless otherwise defined or one of the exceptions below. Double by an unpassed hand of:

18212 C response to weak 1 NT* is strength-showing
2Artificial response (thru 3 D) to a natural suit opening is takeout of the suit opened
3Splinter bid as our first action shows length and suggests sacrifice

*defined as 15 HCP maximum


Double of notrump

Unless otherwise defined, the double of a notrump bid by non-leader is penalty and requests, in order of priority:

1831Leader's suit if both of us have shown suits
2Dummy's shown suit unless leader has strong safe lead
3Leader's shown suit
4Doubler's shown suit
5Leader's weaker major


Double of suit slam

Double of a voluntarily bid suit slam by non-leader requests, in order of priority:

1841Side suit shown by the opponents
2Leader's longest suit not bid by our side


Slam Bidding Methods

General Approach

Most slam auctions begin with suit agreement, which can occur in four ways, all agreeing the suit bid or the last shown suit:

1851Raise, including artificial fit-showing bids
2Preference, even if not ensuring an 8+ fit
3Splinter bid, including self-splinters*
4Advance control-bid

*but excluding pattern splinters to show a 3-suiter or the remaining shape of a 2-suiter


After suit agreement in a strong auction (game tries nonexistent) our next bid has the following meaning:

186Notrumpnatural (except 4 NT if Blackwood)
Shown suitnatural
Enemy suitace or shortness
Unshown suitcontrol-showing*

*except after a preference that did not show normal support, then natural; e.g., 1 S 1 NT; 3 H 3 S; 4 C = 3-4 clubs, and 5 C or 6 C is a potential contract.

Note that two suits can be agreed, but if it happens that's the limit; a bid in either remaining suit is control-showing.


Control-showing auctions

A control-showing auction can be started only after suit agreement. Typically this requires about an ace better than a minimum GF, or suitable values if suit agreement was issued by a splinter or advance control-bid.

Once a control-showing auction is started, bids have the following meanings:

187Notrump*natural, discouraging
Agreed suitnatural, discouraging
Other suitcontrol-bid (even if shown by our side)

*excluding 4 NT if Blackwood and 5 NT

A control-bid below game does not require extra strength (just suitable values).

Bypassing a suit does not deny that control, i.e., it may be planned to save bidding space at next turn.

A control-bid beyond 5 of the highest agreed suit confirms all suits are controlled and that a grand slam is possible.


Control-bids

Guidelines for the meaning of the first control-bid in a particular suit:

188Unshown of 3ace or king, 4+ cards (rare 3)
Unshown of 2ace or king* or shortness
Only unshownace or shortness
Enemy shownace or shortness
Splinter suitace or void
Partner's shownace or king
Your shownace

*With ace in one suit and king in the other, prefer to show the king below game.

Modification: If beyond the game level of the highest agreed suit, a control-bid shows first-round control.


A second control-bid in the same suit, or a redouble of doubled control-bid, shows:

1891Ace or void if prior bid could be shortness
2Ace or king if prior bid showed ace or king
3King or shortness if prior bid showed ace


Four Notrump Meanings

Four notrump can have one of three meanings: takeout, natural or Blackwood.


Takeout 4NT

Four notrump is takeout if partner has not acted, or if all of the following are true:

1901You have not previously acted
2Partner has bid at 1 level and/or doubled at any level
3Last bid is 4 H or 4 S by an opponent
4At least two unbid suits exist not counting spades


1 D4 S4 NTtakeout

But if opponent bid 4 H, it would be Blackwood.


1 H1 S4 H4 NTtakeout

But if partner bid 2 S, it would be Blackwood.


Natural 4NT

Four notrump is natural if we have made a natural notrump bid and no major suit is agreed.

For clarification, the following are not considered natural:

1911Forcing 1 NT response to a major opening
2Responder's 2 NT rebid after opener's reverse bid
3Responder's 2 NT waiting after a 2 C opening


1 S
3 H
Pass
Pass
2 NT
4 NT
Passnatural

Despite both majors bid, neither is agreed.


1 NT
2 S
4 D
Pass
Pass
Pass
2 H
3 D
4 NT
Pass
Pass
natural


Blackwood

If 4 NT does not meet either of the takeout or natural conditions, it is Blackwood.


Key suit determination

When 4 NT is Blackwood there is always one key suit, determined by this priority:

1921Agreed suit, higher if two
2Last shown suit, higher if simultaneous
3Highest implied suit


1 H2 NTPass4 NTdiamonds key (higher of simultaneous)


1 SDbl3 S4 NThearts key (highest implied)


Key-card responses

Standard Roman key-card steps:

1935 C0 or 3 key cards
5 D1 or 4 key cards
5 H2 or 5 key cards
5 S*2 or 5 key cards, QOEL

*Eliminate if key suit is hearts to allow Blackwood use with 1 key card.


Blackwood bidder may then sign off in any agreed suit, 6 or 7 of any shown suit, or 6 NT.

Continuations by Blackwood bidder:

194Cheapest suit*QOEL ask
Other suitrelay to play 5 NT (rare)
5 NTking ask, confirms 5 key cards + QOEL

*If responder holds 4 or 5 key cards, this can be an agreed suit, since asker could not wish to sign off.


Responses to QOEL ask:

195Key suitdenies QOEL
5 NTQOEL, no king
Other suitQOEL, that king


Responses to 5 NT specific king ask:

196Key suitno king
Other suitthat king
6 NTtwo kings, doubts about seven
7 anynatural, source of tricks, NF


Continuations after QOEL or 5 NT ask:

197Unshown suitgrand ST, nonspecific
Othersign-off


Showing a void

A void may be shown over Blackwood if deemed useful:

1985 NT2 key cards + void
6 of suit*1 or 3 key cards + void

*Below key suit shows void unless obvious (e.g., from splinter) then a specific king. Key suit means void (or king) is higher ranking.


Over interference

DOPI if an opponent bids below 6 of key suit:

199Dbl0 or 3 key cards
Pass1 or 4 key cards
Cheapest bid2 or 5 key cards
Next bid*2 or 5 key cards, QOEL

*Eliminate if cheapest bid is key suit.


DEPO if an opponent bids 6 of key suit or beyond:

200Dbl0, 2 or 4 key cards
Pass1, 3 or 5 key cards


Five Notrump Meanings

Five notrump, when not part of another convention such as Blackwood, can have one of four meanings: takeout, invitation to 7 NT, trump ask (GSF) or "pick a slam." In all cases it is forcing.


Takeout 5NT

Five notrump is for takeout, asking lower suits first:

2011If partner has not acted, or
2If a nonjump on the first round of bidding


3 H3 S5 H5 NTtakeout for minors


Invitation to 7NT

Five notrump invites 7 NT if we have shown a balanced hand and no specific suit has been shown.


2 C
2 H
2 NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
2 D
2 S
5 NT
Pass
Pass
7 NT invitation

Opener may bid 6 of a suit (forcing) to suggest 7 in that suit. Bidding cannot end below 6 NT.


Grand slam force

Five notrump is a trump ask:

2021If a major suit (and no other suit) is agreed, or
2If our only shown suit is a major by partner*

*excluding the first-round nonjump takeout case


Responses are by steps, skipping over the trump suit:

203Step 1ace or king
Step 2A-Q or K-Q
Trump suitworst
Step 3A-K
Step 4A-K-Q


Pick a Slam

In all other cases, 5 NT asks partner to choose a slam:

2041Between two previously shown suits, or
2Between one previously shown suit and 6 NT


Defensive Carding

Notrump Opening Leads

Honor leads:

205A K Q 10 x, A K J 10 x, A K J x x x (or better)
A K Q x, A K J x, A K 10 x, K Q J x, K Q 10 x
K Q 10 9 x, A Q J x, Q J 10 x, Q J 9 x
K Q J 9 x, A J 10 x, K J 10 x, J 10 9 x, J 10 8 x
A Q 10 9, A 10 9, K 10 9, Q 10 9, 10 9 8 x, 10 9 7 x
Doubleton or tripleton A K, K Q, Q J, J 10, 10 9


Spot leads:

206A J x x x, K 9 8 7 x, Q J x x, J 10 x x, etc.
x x x x (optional depending on hand)
A x x, K x x, Q x x, J x x, 10 x x
9 x x* (or weaker), x x (any doubleton)

*Lead low if partner showed 5+ cards (including suspect third/fourth major openings) and you have not raised.


Suit Opening Leads

Honor leads:

207A K x* (thru 4 S), A K x (above 4 S), K Q x
Q J 10 x, Q J 9 x, K J 10 x, J 10 9 x, J 10 8 x
K 10 9, Q 10 9, 10 9 8 x, 10 9 7 x
Doubleton or tripleton A K, K Q, Q J, J 10, 10 9

*except in partner's suit always lead king from A-K


Spot leads:

208Doubletonhigh
Odd lengthlowest
Even lengthsecond* or third, e.g.
J 9 8 4, J 9 7 4, 10 8 7 3, 10 8 6 3, etc.

*Essentially like giving count, except second-best is not wasted unless touching third or deemed to be safe (as in partner's suit)


Leads After Trick One

Second honor lead in the same suit:

209Short holdingtop card*
4+ cardsbottom of sequence

*warns partner not to overtake or unblock


Second lead in the same suit, spot card:

210Odd residuelowest
Even residuehighest affordable

Exception: At notrump lead original fourth best if there could be any ambiguity.


Honor leads in another suit:

211Acedenies king
Kingunchanged
Queenunchanged
JackJ 10 (denies higher)
TenA J 10, K J 10, A 10 9, K 10 9, Q 10 9
Nine10 9 (except doubleton)

Exceptions occur for technical necessity, such as from K-J-9 thru dummy's Q-x-x.

Note that a 10 lead promises a top honor unless doubleton.


Spot leads in another suit at notrump:

212Fourth bestencourages return of suit
High or seconddiscourages return of suit

From 9-x-x with the 10 not in view, lead middle to avoid confusion with showing the 10.


Spot leads in another suit at suit contracts are unchanged (low from odd, second or third from even) regardless of strength.

Exception: Do not lead a nine (e.g., K-J-9-x) if it could be confused with showing 10-9-x-(x).


Honor Signals

Honor signals (following suit or discarding) are standard showing strength:

213Ace (discard)solid suit
Kingsolid except ace
QueenA Q J, Q J (usually 10 too)
JackA J 10, K J 10, J 10*
TenA Q 10, A 10 9, K 10 9, Q 10 9, 10 9*

*ambiguous so avoid if partner would expect better


When splitting honors as second hand, play as above if intention is to inform partner.

Exception: Second-hand hop with a king shows nothing in particular (just like winning an ace) because it may be necessary to gain the lead.


Count Signals

General strategy against all contracts is to show count, both in following suit and discarding, regardless of who led the suit. Tend to discard first from the suit(s) you do not want led; hence partner can infer positive attitude from a suit not discarded, or discarded last.

Standard count signals:

2143, 5 or 7 cardslowest
4 or 8 cardssecond highest (if affordable)
2 or 6 cardshighest affordable

The distinct plays from even lengths can be helpful, e.g., if partner sees the highest outstanding card he knows you have a doubleton or 6.

Tens and jacks may also be count signals, provided the play is safe and won't be confused with strength-showing.

Queens and higher are never count signals.


Modifications and exceptions

Notrump opening leads with special requests:

215Aceunblock K, Q or J, else count
Kingattitude
Queenunblock jack, hop ace, else attitude
Jackunblock 10, hop ace or king, else count

Regardless of the lead at notrump, if dummy wins a blank ace, king or queen, signal attitude.


Other leads with special requests:

216Ace not A-K*attitude

*Beyond 4 S, after trick one, or with king in dummy


Residual count

If count is not shown on the first round of a suit, either because an honor had to be played, or because another signal had priority, count is shown on the second round:

217Odd residuelowest
Even residuehighest affordable

Note that an odd residue indicates an original even number of cards, and vice versa.


Suit Preference Signals

Suit preference is routinely shown after count with the next play. Assume the underlined card was played first:

2186 4 26 shows high SP, 4 shows low
10 6 4 34 shows high SP, 3 shows low
Q 9 7 5 29 shows high SP, 5 shows low
9 8 7 6 3 28 shows high SP, 2 shows low

Suit preference may be negligible, since you must go one way or the other with 3-4 cards. Neutral possibilities exist with 5+ cards, but readability is doubtful, so general strategy should be to choose.


Overriding cases

Suit preference applies immediately on the suit led in the following cases:

2191Opening lead is partner's shown 5+ card suit*
2Ace or king opening lead is dummy's singleton at a suit contract
3Ace lead at suit contract with K-x, K-Q-x (or longer) in dummy and third hand marked with 3+ cards
4Opening lead is an obvious singleton and third hand has a choice of plays
5Leading or following to suit partner is expected to ruff
6Removing declarer's last stopper at notrump
7Choice of insignificant cards in a suit declarer is out of (or will be on current trick)

*Suit preference is strong if leader wins the trick, i.e., an immediate shift is usually desired.

A jack is defined as low suit preference if next hand (declarer or dummy) covers.


In the above seven cases a middle card shows no preference but may have other implications:

220Case 1Continue my suit
Case 2-3Continue suit led or shift to trumps
Case 4-5My entry may be in trumps
Case 6-7No preference or nondisclosure


Trump Signals

The only trump signal is the traditional echo (or non-echo) to show the number of trumps held. This is routine and does not imply the ability to ruff.

2212 or 4 trumpsup-the-line
3 or 5 trumpshigh-low (if affordable)

Exception: Do not high-low with A-x-x or K-x-x.

When echoing from equal trumps, play the higher card first. This may reveal to partner whether your trump holding is promotable.

© 2017 Richard Pavlicek