Bridge Conventions

Bridge Bidding Conventions

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This bridge conventions section is mainly concerned with bidding conventions although a few carding and defensive signalling conventions are included. For more general information on defense or play of the cards refer to the general bridge topics section.
new bridge bidding conventions
This conventions section is continually being updated,
the most recent 10 additions are: -
•  Transfer Pre-empts . Phillip Alder's solution to the gambling 3NT being wrong-sided.
•  Reverse Rosenkrantz . A convention used to show support for partner when LHO has opened, partner has overcalled, and RHO has bid or made a negative double.
•  Defense to 1NT . to cover the Meckwell defence.
•  Unassuming Cue Bid. to cover the situation where advencer has a good hand and a good suit of his own.
•  Advance Balance . A treatment used when your partner is limited and RHO makes a bid that may end the auction.
•  Besse (Inverted) Puppet Stayman. A variation of Puppet Syayman that ensures that opener is always declarer.
•  When your 1NT opening gets doubled/overcalled . A list of suggestions for what to do and when to double, play Lebensohl etc.
•  Helvic . A convention used when your weak 1NT opening gets doubled.
•  Staveley Wriggle . A convention used when your weak 1NT opening gets doubled.
•  TWERB. A convention used against strong club openings.
  If the convention name is in blue, then it's a link off to where the convention is explained in more detail.
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  This conventions page is divided into five sections: -  
Section 1 Contains conventions that are fairly common.
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Section 2 This is an interesting section - conventions that are
  either new or not widely known, I also include my treatments of a few well known conventions.  
Section 3 This section is also interesting. It compares conventions  
  that do a similar thing or different uses for the same bid.  
Section 4 The fourth section is a selection of bridge convention books.
Section 5 The fifth section is links off to convention pages in other sites.
  bridge convention
Section 1

Common/well known conventions

  Convention   Brief Description  
  Baby Blackwood   A convention whereby 3NT is used as ace-asking in certain specific situations.  
  Baron 2NT   A convention popular in the UK to show a big balanced hand when partner has opened. I prefer to use Jacoby 2NT over major suit openings and to use inverted minors over minor suit openings, with 2NT as 11-12 and invitational over a minor suit opening.  
  Baron 2   The Baron two spades convention, popular in the UK, uses the 2 response to 1NT to show either an invitational (to 3NT) hand with no 4 card major or a slam seeking hand.  
  Baron 3   The Baron three clubs convention is used over a 2NT (or via 2 etc.) opening to locate a 4-4 fit in either a minor or a major. It is fairly popular in the UK but most players play 3 as some form of Stayman in this situation.  
  Bergen Raises   A convention where almost all raises of an opening 1 or 1 are conventional, the most notable (notorious?) of which is 3 being used as a 4 card raise to 2 of the major.  
  Blackwood   A convention used to ask partner how many aces he has. There are numerous variotions of the convention  
  BROMAD   Bergen Raise Of Major After Double. A set of responses, devised by Marty Bergen and similar to Bergen Raises, for the situation where partner's 1/ opening has been doubled.
  Cappelletti   A defence to opponent's 1NT opening. A very similar (but better) convention is Multi Landy. See also Defense to Cappelletti.  
  Checkback   or Checkback Stayman. An artificial relay bid (typically 2 but there are others bids) that requests information about partner's major(s). Normally used after partner has rebid in NoTrump.  
  Compressed Transfers   A silly convention which is summarily dismissed in the No Trump bidding book.  
  Constructive Raise   If partner opens1 or 1 then a raise to 2/ is generally 6-9 points with either 3 or 4 card support. In some systems, however you can differentiate between a good (constructive) raise and a poor one. Playing Bergen raises the direct 2 bid is a poor raise (usually just three cards) and a constructive raise with 4 card support is shown by bidding 3♣. Playing two-over-one some people play that a direct 2/ is constructive and with a poor raise they go via the forcing NoTrump.  
  Crawling Stayman   A variation of Garbage Stayman that is meant to make it easier to find a fit with very weak hands. I don't like it and it is summarily dismissed in the No Trump bidding book.  
  Crowhurst   A 2 bid by responder after opener has rebid 1NT. Playing the Crowhurst two clubs convention the 1NT rebid has a wide range (12-16) and 2 by responder primarily checks on the range. I don't recommend the convention as there is barely enough room to get all the information across playing normal Checkback Stayman (CBS); with this additional burden of the wide point range it is simply too cumbersome for me. There is an article comparing Checkback Stayman, Crowhurst and NMF in section 3 of this conventions page.  
  Cue Bids   Often a bid in a suit in which the partnership does not wish to play. After trumps have been agreed such a bid is often a cue bid, usually showing 1st round control. Further bids (other than the trump suit) are also generally cue bids and such subsequent bids may show 1st or 2nd round control depending upon context. Cue bids, game tries, splinters and 4th suit forcing are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
  DAB   Directional Asking Bid. A cue bid of the opponent's suit asking partner to bid NoTrump if he has a ½ stopper in their suit. A ½ stopper is something like Qx, Jxx, singleton K etc. or better. It is similar to a Western cue bid but the Western cue generally asks for a full stopper.  
  Delayed Game Raise   An old fashioned way to raise partner's 1/ opening to game. A more efficient and modern approch is described in "Raising partner's major with a big hand".  
  DEPO   What to do when your Blackwood/Gerber is interfered with (not widely used).  
  (and REPO)    
  DOPI   What to do when your Blackwood/Gerber is interfered with (more commonly used).  
    A defensive signalling convention that really is not as good as otheres such as Odds and Evens or Lavinthal (McKenny).  
  DONT   Disturbing Opponent's No Trump. A defence to a 1NT whereby double is conventional (not penatlties).  
  Drury   A convention whereby a passed hand bids 2 (conventional) to enquire if partner's 3rd or 4th seat major suit opening was sound. Using two way Drury, both 2 and 2 are used in this conventional way - with 2 showing three card support and and 2 showing 4 card support. The modern treatment (so actually 2-way Reverse Drury) is that opener rebids two of his major with a weak opening and any other bid shows a sound opener. Note that Drury is a limit raise or better, if opener has a hand worth game opposite a limit raise the he must bid it. If responder's hand is worth game then he cannot bid three of the major at any stage in the auction.  
  Dutch Acol   Many (most?) Dutch players say that they play Acol. They do not. 'Dutch' Acol is a completely different system to Acol. I don't like it, see the link. The system is also fairly popular in Australia and Scandinavia.  
  Exclusion Blackwood   In a situation where 4NT would be Blackwood (or RKCB) it is possible to play that a bid of a suit at the 5 level is Exclusion Blackwood (or Exclusion RKCB) and asks for aces (or keycards) outside the suit bid. Obviously this is used when the asker has a void in the suit.  
  Fishbein   A defence to weak 3's (next suit up for take-out and double is penalties). I cannot recommend it; most people double for take-out these days.  
  Fit Jumps   These days more advanced players generally play weak jump shifts, but when partner partner opens a major and RHO doubles or overcalls then a pre-emptive bid has little effect. So the modern treatment for most experienced players is to play a jump in a new suit in competition as a fit-jump.  
  Flannery 2   The Flannery two diamonds convention is that a 4522, 4531 or 4513 hand with 11-15 points is opened with 2. Obviously it is very accurate but it really is a bit extravagant to use the 2 opening bid for just this one particular hand shape.  
  Flint   Jeremy Flint. He has contributed a number of ideas to bidding theory, the most important of which is the concept of opener bidding 4 card suits up the line.  
  Forcing NoTrump  

A convention, used with five card opening majors, whereby a response of 1NT to an opening bid of 1 or 1 forces opener to bid again if there is no interference. It is a fundamental part of the Two Over One bidding system.

  Four-way transfers   The use of 2 and 2NT as transfers to 's and 's resp over partner's 1NT opening.  
  Fourth Suit Forcing   In an uniterrupted sequence like 1 - 1 - 2 - 2, most players play that the 4th suit (so 2 here) is artificial and forcing. But there are loads of questions that need answering. Is 4th suit forcing best played as forcing for 1 round or to game? Is 1 or 2 the 4th suit forcing bid after 1 - 1 - 1 - ? All of this and much more is covered in the link.  
      4th suit forcing, game tries, cue bids and splinters are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
  Fruit Machine Swiss   A convention whereby the responses of 4 and 4 to a 1 or 1 opening both show a sound raise to 4 of the major. 4 shows a sound raise with two aces and a 'feature'. The feature may be a third ace, a singleton/void or the king of trumps. The 4 bid shows the same values but denies the requirement for a 4 bid. This is a fine convention, but has now been superseded by Keycard Swiss.  
    An opening bid of 3NT shows a long completely solid minor. The best treatment is to play that it promises no outside ace or king.  
  Game Try   See Help Suit Game Try. Game tries, cue bids, splinters and 4th suit forcing are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
  Garbage Stayman  

To bid Stayman you usually need invitational values or better. But there are a couple of cases where you can bid it with few points.(a) with 4441 type shape (short ♣'s) and (b) 45xx and 54xx where you try Stayman and then bid two of the 5 card major if no fit is found. Thus the sequences 1NT - 2♣ - 2 - 2/ are weak and partner is expected to pass. Check out the link.

  Gerber   The Gerber four clubs is a convention where 4 is used for the ace ask. It is best used only after partner's last natural bid was NoTrump and is fully covered in the No Trump Bidding book. When to use Blackwood and when to use Gerber is fully defined in that link.  
  Ghestem   A combination of Michaels cue bids, the UNT and an artificial 3 bid that enabels any two suited overcall to be specific about the suits.  
  GNATS   God Not Another Transfer System. A convention (or rather a system) whereby all opening one-level suit bids are artificial.  
  Granville   Also known as Gazille, is a convention that interchanges the meanings of 1 and a forcing 1NT over partner's 1 opening when playing the two over one bidding system. I cannot really recommend it - stick with the traditional Forcing NoTrump.  
  Hamilton   A defence to opponent's 1NT opening, also known as Cappelletti. A very similar (but better convention) is Multi Landy.  
  Help-Suit Game Try   When a major suit has been agreed at the two level, a new suit is a help-suit game try, asking partner to bid game with help in this suit. Game tries, cue bids, splinters and 4th suit forcing are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
  Helvic   A convention to attempt to find the best fit used when your weak 1NT gets doubled for penalties.  
  Inverted Minors   Forcing raises of partner's 1 or 1opening.  
  Jacoby Transfers   Transfer to hearts/spades over partner's 1NT opening. The complete scenario of sequences after a Jacoby transfer is given in the NoTrump bidding book. Jacoby transfers are often also used over a 2NT opening (or after 2 - 2 - 2NT).  
  Jacoby Transfers to the minors   Transfer to clubs/diamonds over partner's 1NT opening. Use in conjunction with Jacoby transfers to the majors the whole scheme is often called 4-way transfers. The complete scenario of sequences is given in the No Trump bidding book.  
  Jacoby 2NT   A conventional bid of 2NT after partner's 1/ opening. It shows a sound raise to the two level with 4 card support but no shortage (otherwise you would splinter). The page has been updated to incorporate the use of (Key Card) Swiss with weaker hands.  
  Jordan 2NT   Also known as Truscott 2NT. If partner opens 1/♠ and RHO doubles, then 2NT is not needed in a natural sense (double with 9+). So playing Jordan 2NT the 2NT bid shows a sound raise to three of the major and a direct bid of 3 of the major is pre-emptive.  
  Journalist Leads   A very specific set of leads against No Trump contracts  
  Jump Cuebid Overcall   You have a hand something like A xx AKQJ1096 QJ6 and RHO opens 1, what do you bid? Double is very likely to turn out badly, especially if the opponents compete. The answer is to bid 3, a jump cuebid overcall of the opponent's suit, showing a strong hand with a long solid minor and both unbid suits stopped. It invites partner to bid 3NT with a stop in the suit opened.  
  Kickback   A convention whereby a bid of 4 of the suit above trumps is used as Blackwood. This is not widely used but is really good in my opinion.  
  The Kokish Relay   In Standard American (and many other systems) 2♣ is the only strong bid and the sequence 2 - 2 - 2NT shows 22-24 balanced. So with a balanced 25+ you either have to open 3NT or use the sequence 2 - 2 - 3NT. This is totally unsatisfactory and one solution is to play the Kokish relay.  
  Landy   A defence to the opponent's 1NT opening. Multi Landy really is a better system.  
  Lavinthal   A discard signalling system used by defenders. Also known as McKenny.  
    The Law of Total tricks gives an approximation of the number of tricks possible by each side and indicates when you should bid on or not, depending upon the number of trumps held.  
  Leaping Michaels   The defence against weak twos is fairly standard these days, with double for take-out. This link defines all of the defender's options, including Leaping Michaels.  
  Lebensohl   Bidding when RHO overcalls partner's 1NT opener  
  Lebensohl   Using Lebensohl over partner's double of a weak two  
  Lebensohl   Using Lebensohl after partner has reversed  
  Lebensohl   Breaking the Lebensohl Puppet  
  Good/Bad 2NT   Another application of Lebensohl  
  Losing Trick Count   A scheme, popular in the UK, for calculating how high to raise partner's 1/ opening.  
  McKenny   A discard signalling system used by defenders. Also known as Lavinthal.  
  Michaels Cue Bid   A bid of two of the suit opened by the opposition. It shows a two-suited hand which is either weak or very strong. In conjunction with the UNT most two suited hands can be shown. But not all combinationa can be shown and there is ambiguity with which minor suit when the two suits are 's and a minor. These problems have been overcome with Questem.  
  Mini-Roman   A 2 opening to show a 3-suited hand, typically 11-14 points.  
  Mini-Splinter   Some people (mostly 2/1 players) play that a jump to 3 of a minor over a 1/opening is a mini-splinter, agreeing the major and showing shortage. Such a mini splinter is played as invitational (although responder may have a more powerful hand). Playing Mini-splinters is not that common and certainly would have to be agreed.  
  Minor Suit Stayman   Some people play that 2 spades over partner's 1NT opening is minor suit Stayman. But this really is rather inefficient and SARS, which is fully covered in chapter 2.5 of the No Trump bidding book, is a much better method. Two variations of Minor Suit Stayman are discussed in "The 2♠ (and 2NT) response to 1NT".  
  Muiderberg   A convention using the 2/ opening bids. They are weak, promising a 5 card suit and also an undisclosed 4+ card minor. It is popular in Holland and is usually used in conjunction with the Multi 2.  
  Multi Landy   The Multi Landy convention is a defence to opponent's 1NT opening. It is very similar to Cappellitti/Hamilton but superior in my view as 2 is used for the majors and the best major suit fit is always found. Playing Cappellitti/Hamilton you can easily end up in a 4-3 (or 4-2) fit when there is a 5-3 (or 5-2) fit in the other major. See also Defence to Mutli-Landy.  
  The Multi 2   One version of the multi two diamonds. I have a 'super' version in the works, but this one is as good as any for now. See also Defence to Multi Two Diamonds.  
  Interference over your Multi 2   What to do when your multi two diamonds is interfered with.  
  Namyats   Differentiate between good and bad 4 of a major openers.  
  Negative Double   If partner opens and RHO overcalls then a double is negative. In principle showing the other two suits but there are many different options and many players (including myself) play that it just shows unbid major(s).  
  New Minor Forcing   NMF involves using an artificial bid of an unbid minor to search for a major suit fit.  
  Niemeijer   Niemeijer is a complete scheme for responding to 2NT openings. It includes 3 as Puppet Stayman.  
  Odds and Evens   A discard signalling system whereby a discard of an odd card indicates that you like that suit and a discard of an even card showa a dislike for that suit (and may have Lavinthal overtones).  
  Ogust   An artificial bid of 2NT in response to partner's weak two opening that asks how good (or bad) the weak two is.  
  Ogust over partner's Weak Jump Shift   If you play Weak Jump Shifts then you can play 2NT by opener as Ogust.  
  Pottage   An English name for Cappelletti/Hamilton.  
  Puppet Stayman  

Puppet Stayman asks for both 4 and 5 card majors. The most important application is 3 over a 2NT opening and this works extremely well. There are also variations over a 1NT opening (either 2 or 3) but neither are really satisfactory. Note that with Puppet Stayman, the artificial 2 or 3 bid is in fact a relay and not a puppet.

  Responding to Blackwood with a void   When partner bids Blackwood (or Roman Key Card Blackwood) and you have a useful void then he really needs to know about it. The link describes the best method.  
  Responding to partner's strong 2 opening   Traditionally 2 is negative and other bids show about 7+ points; with 2NT and 3NT showing specific point ranges. This really is a terrible scheme, and if you are not enlightened enough to play Benjamin twos then I give here the best scheme for responding to 2 (2 waiting and 2 negative).  
  Responding to partner's weak two opening   As the Americans say, RONF (a Raise is the Only Non-Forcing bid). In particular I cover the Ogust (2NT) convention.  
  Revan   A totally ridiculous signalling system.  
  Reverse   A rebid in a suit that is higher ranking than your first bid suit (or a new suit at the three level), thus forcing partner to the three level if he wishes to give preference to your first bid suit. The link gives examples of a reverse and indicates which sequences are forcing or not.  
  Reverse Rosenkrantz   When LHO opens, partner overcalls and RHO bids (or negative doubles) then you have two ways to support partner at the two level. Playining Rosenkrantz a direct raise denies a top hinour while a double (or redouble) shows three to a top honour. Playing Reverse Rosenkrantz the meanings of these bids are reversed.  
  Revolving discards   A discard system similar to Lavinthal/McKenny, except that a low club indicates spades and a high spade indicates clubs.  
    Using Roman keycard there are 5 keycards - the 4 aces and the king of trumps. Special attention is also given to the queen of trumps.  
  Roman 2   The Roman two diamonds convention is an opening bid of 2 which shows a hand with 4441 or 5440 type shape. Traditionally it is a strong hand but the point range may be anything you agree. I discuss the convention and the best point range (which depends upon your opening 1NT point range) along with other options for the 2 opening in The 2 opening.  
  Rule of 2,3 & 4   A general rule about how high to pre-empt depending upon vulnerability.  
  The Rule of 11   A rule whereby you can calculate declarer's high cards when partner leads 4th best.  
  The Rule of 15   A guide to marginal openings in 4th seat.  
  The Rule of 20   A guide to marginal openings in 1st or 2nd seat.  
    A leading convention whereby the 2nd highest of touching honours is led. It is only used against suit contracts when partner has not bid the suit.  
  Sandwich No Trump   A bid of NoTrump (usually 1NT) made between two bidding opponent - so usually in 4th seat after LHO has opened, partner passed, and RHO bid another suit. The bid shows 5-5 in the two unbid suits. You really do need to have a shapely hand for this bid, as both opponents have values and partenr has passed - you could easily be doubled for penalties. For the situation where just one opponent has bid, see also Two Suited Overcalls.  
  Semi-forcing NoTrump   A silly idea that negates all of the advantages of playing a Forcing NoTrump.  
  Smith Echo   A signalling system used when defending against a No Trump contract.  
  Smolen   A somewhat inefficient method of showing a game forcing hand which is 5-4 or 4-5 in the majors opposite a 1NT opener. It is fully described in the No Trump bidding book but it has been superceeded by Quest transfers.  
  Splinters   A jump bid which agrees partner's last bid suit and shows shortage in the suit bid. Splinters, 4th suit forcing, game tries and cue bids are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
    This is a convention used to escape into a suit contract when a 1NT opening is doubled; it is generally used when playing a weak NoTrump.  
  Stayman   2 over partner's 1NT opening. This link give a simple explanation, it is much more fully described in the No Trump bidding book. There is also a comprehensive description of when you can use Stayman with a weak hand in the Garbage Stayman link.  
  Strong Twos   A fundamental ingredient of basic Acol and other old bidding systems. Opening bids of 2, 2 and 2 are strong (8-9 playing tricks) and the bid is forcing. Most players play weak twos these days but the strong two capability is built into Benjamin twos (see section 2).  
  Support Double   A double of RHO's overcall of partner's response to show 3 card support.  
  South African Texas   Bids of 4 or 4 over partner's 1NT opening that ask him to bid 4 or 4 resp.  
  Texas Transfers   Bids of 4 or 4 over partner's 1NT opening that ask him to bid 4 or 4 resp.  
  Swiss   A convention whereby the responses of 4 and 4 to a 1 or 1 opening both show a sound raise to 4 of the major. There are numerous variations differentiating between the 4 and 4 bids and the most popular is "Fruit Machine Swiss". This is a fine convention, but has now been superseded by Keycard Swiss.  
  The 3NT rebid   What does 3NT by opener mean after a suit opening and response?  
  Tartan twos   Conventional opening bids of 2/that may either be two-suited and weak or very strong.  
  Transfer Pre-empts   The gambling 3NT (no ace or king outside) is a good well established convention. However, it does have the downside that the wrong hand is declarer. The link gives Phillip Alder's solution for transfer pre-empts so that a 3 opening shows the gambling 3NT.  
  Trial Bid   Another name for a game try, see Help Suit Game Try. Game tries, cue bids, splinters and 4th suit forcing are often confused with each other. For a fairly comprehensive explanation of what is what refer to the Game Tries, Cue bids, Splinters, 4th suit forcing and all that Jazz link.  
  Truscott   The Truscott defence to a strong 1 opening. It may also be used over a strong 2♣ opening.  
  Truscott 2   The Truscott two diamonds convention is a version of forcing Stayman. It is not commonly played these days as normal (Garbage) Stayman and Jacoby transfers are to be preferred.  
  Truscott 2NT   The Truscott Two NoTrump convention is also known as Jordan 2NT. If partner opens 1/♠ and RHO doubles, then 2NT is not needed in a natural sense (double with 9+). So playing Truscott 2NT the 2NT bid shows a sound raise to three of the major and a direct bid of 3 of the major is pre-emptive.  
  The Unassuming Cue Bid   When LHO opens and partner overcalls then a cue bid of the opener's suit by you shows a limit raise or better (ie a sound raise to the three level). Thus, when playing the Unassuming Cue Bid, direct raises to three or four of partner's suit are pre-emptive.  
  UNT   The Unusual No Trump. A bid of NoTrump (usually 2NT but not always) in a situation where it cannot really be expected to be natural. It shows a hand which is 5-5 in the lowest 2 unbid suits and is either weak or very strong. Played in conjunction with Michaels Cue Bids, most two suited hands can be shown. But see Questem in the next section.  

A treatment whereby after a 1 opening responder may by by-pass a diamond suit in order to bid his major when holding a weak hand. This really is an excellent scheme but perhaps best left to experienced players/partnerships.

  Walsh Relays   A really silly scheme whereby a transfer to hearts is negated by a 2 bid. It is briefly described and sumarrily dismissed in the advanced No Trump bidding book.  
  Weak Jump Shifts   Partner opens 1 or 1 and you hold 63 KJ6532 752 86. Some players play a jump to 2 here as weak, typically 2-5 points and a 6+ card suit.  
  Weak Twos   Many (most) players play opening bids of 2 and 2 as weak bids these day, and some also play 2 as weak. The norm is 6-10 points and a 6 card suit.  
  A convention to show an invitational (or forcing) 5-5 or 5-4 in the majors opposite partner's 1NT opening. It is complex and unnecessary, as explained in the No Trump bidding book.  
  Western Cue Bid   A bid of the opponents suit asking for a stop for NoTrump. It is similar to the DAB but the Western cue generally asks for a full stopper whereas playing the DAB a ½ stopper is enough.  
  Wolff Sign Off   A somewhat out-dated convention that enables responder to sign off in 3 or three of his major after partner has made a jump rebid of 2NT . The convention has been superceded by the PARROT convention which also allows opener to have 4 cards in the other major.  
  If you wish to practice some of the more common conventions above, then many Practice CD-ROMs, including those below, are detailed in the link  
Learn Bidding Conventions CD-ROM
Advanced bridge gefense CD-ROM
Advanced bridge gefense CD-ROM
Advanced bridge gefense CD-ROM
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Section 2

New conventions or treatments

  Convention   Brief Description  
  1NT Swedish Style   A set of responses to a 1NT opening that is popular in Sweden. 2 may or may not be Stayman and there are no Jacoby transfers.  
  A2LI   A defence to a strong 2 opening.  
  Advance Balance   A balancing bid is usually made in the pass-out seat, but there are ocassions (when partner has limited his hand) when it is necessary to balance in front of him.  
  Ambiguous Splinters   These are jumps to three of the other major when partner opens 1/. If opener is interested in slam he enquires where the shortage is. The mechanism is actually exactly the same as splintering after partner opens 1NT and you transfer or find a fit using Stayman. See Splinters After Stayman/transfers later in this section.  
  ASID - (Advanced) Stayman in Doubt   After Stayman has received a positive response (so 1NT - 2 - 2/) then 3 has been used as the SID (Stayman in doubt) convention in days long gone - stating that responder is 3433/4333 shape exactly (4 trumps) and offering 3NT as an alternative contract. This rather quaint convention is rarely used but it's new model - ASID - is a very powerful tool in NoTrump bidding. Check it out, it's section 2.4 of the No Trump bidding book.  
  Benjamin Twos   Benjamin Twos are a convention whereby both 2 and 2 are strong and artificial - this is well established, of course (especially in the UK) and I really cannot understand why it is not used more worldwide. Anyway, there are numerous variations on the Benji theme and I give my preferred one here.  
  Besse Puppet Stayman   This is a variation of Puppet Stayman, developed by the Swiss expert Jean Besse, that ensures that the NoTrump opener is always declarer.  
  Cappelletti or Multi-Landy?   These to conventions for interfering over the opponent's 1NT opening are very similar, but one is far superior - check out the link  
  D and A twos   A complete set of two level openings (2 - 2) where every opening has at least two meanings and can be either weak or strong.  
  Defense to Cappelletti and Defence to Multi-Landy   When RHO overcalls your partner's 1NT opening with a natural call then double is generally played as penalties. But when 2 and 2 are artificial this has littles sense. Also, if RHO makes a bid showing both majors then Stayman is of little use. These links detail a scheme for combatting these two conventions.  
  Inverted Jordan 2NT over partner's 1-minor opening   When partner opens a minor, RHO doubles and you have a limit raise for partner's minor, then it may be preferable for partner to be declarer in an eventual 3NT contract. This treatment reverses the meaning of 2NT and the raise to three of the minor.  
  Keycard Swiss   Keycard Swiss is a convention whereby the responses of 4 and 4 to a 1 or 1 opening both show a sound raise to 4 of the major. 4 shows a sound raise with two key cards and a 'feature'. The feature may be a third key card, a singleton or the queen of trumps. The 4 bid shows the same values but denies the requirement for a 4 bid. This is an improvement on the well established Fruit Machine Swiss. Keycard Swiss is best used in conjunction with the Jacoby 2NT convention.  
  No Trump bidding in the balancing seat   A direct 1NT overcall is 15-18, but in the balancing seat you need to be able to show a balanced hand with far less points. A scheme is given for showing all ranges from 10 to 21 points.  
  PARROT   PARROT - Puppet and Relay Responses Over a Two no-trump rebid. This convention combines the uses of the Wolff Sign-Off and New Minor Forcing after partner opens one of a minor, you respond one of a major, and partner makes a jump 2NT rebid  
  Quest Transfers  

Quest transfers is a convention used after the sequence 1NT - 2 - 2 whereby a jump to 3 or 3 is a transfer to the suit above and shows 5 cards in the suit transferred into and 4 in the other major. This is an improvement on Smolen as it caters for both invitational and game forcing hands. Quest transfers (and Smolen) are fully described in the No Trump bidding book

  Questem   A scheme for showing all two-suited overcalls. It is basically a combinatinon of UNT, Michaels and using 3 as an artificial bid. It is superior to Ghestem in that a cue bid of a 1 or 1 opening shows both majors as when using Michaels (using Ghestem you are at the 3-level).  
    Bidding in the Sandwich seat is totally different from the direct seat. There is little point in pre-empting (as both opponents have already made a bid) and as both opponents have shown values you are very likely to get doubled. The link describes some Sandwich seat examples and also indicated when a double by opener is for penalties (it usually is).  
  SARS   Shape Asking Relays (after Stayman). Primarily used to find a minor suit fit after a 1NT opening. It is fully described in section 2.5 of the NT bidding book  
  Splinters after Stayman/Transfers   When partner opens 1NT and you either transfer or use Stayman (and find a fit) then if you have shortage somewhere you may wish to splinter. Unfortunately there are insufficient bids to be able to splinter in all suits (4 is some sort of ace/key card ask). This link (part of the NoTrump bidding book) explains how it's done (3 of the other major is an ambiguous splinter).  
  Stayman Super-accepts   The most popular (and best in my view) version of Stayman over a 1NT opening is 'Garbage Stayman'. Responder does not promise any values and so the traditional requirement of responder having invitational values or better no longer stands and 'obviously' a response such as 2NT to show both majors is unsound.... But is it?  
      Even when playing Garbage Stayman it is possible for opener to bid 2NT or even higher with a suitable hand. Don't believe me? Check it out! It is section 2.7 of the No Trump bidding book.  
  Three spades over two NoTrumps   Using transfers over partner's 2NT opening bid, the use of 3 is often undefined. Some us it to show 5 's and 4 's as that shape cannot be described satisfactorily if using Puppet Stayman and transfers. But if playing Niemeijer then 3NT is used to show that awkward shape and 3 is spare. This link defines an excellent use of the bid.  
  Three Suited hands opposite partner's 1NT opening   This page give five example hands where it really is necessary to be able to show shortage opposite a 1NT opening from partner.  
  TWERB   TWERB - Two-Way Exclusion Relay Bids, is a convention that shows all single suited and two-suited hands when the opponents start the auction with a strong 1 opening.  
  Two way game tries   This convention allows both short suit game tries and help suit game tries after an opening 1/ bid has been raised to 2/.  
  'Walsh' responses to 1NT   These responses feature two-way 2 (either Minor Suit Stayman or to play in 2) and 2NT (eitherthree suited game force or to play in 3) responses.  
  bridge conventions      
Section 3

Comparisons between conflicting conventions

  Convention   Brief Description  
I'll start off with the two very basic choices you have to make: -
  Weak or Strong No Trump?   There have been pages (even books) written on the benefits of one over the other. It all boils down to playing whichever you prefer as they are both perfectly sound. But the decision may depend upon whether you wish to play 4 or 5 card majors: -  
  4 or 5 card majors?   Now here I do have a preference. I will play either but one scheme that I will not play is 4-card majors in conjunction with a Strong No Trump. I call this Dutch Acol, it is unsound and simply does not work! I have fully described why not. So if partner insists upon 4-card majors then I play a weak NoTrump (so Acol).  
And now we'll have a look at a few other decisions you need to make: -
  Ace/Keycard ask   There are a multitude of different ace/keycard asking bids. Easily the best/most common are Gerber (when you probably intend to play in No Trumps) and RKCB (when a trump suit has been established). The next entry suggests when 4 is Gerber and when 4NT is RKCB. But then there is the separate issue of what bid is RKCB. Most players play that 4NT is generally RKCB regardless of the trump suit, but this is not satisfactory with lower ranking suits and I suggest that you have a look at Kickback.  
  1430 or 3014?   If you have decided to play RKCB then you have to choose which variation! Basic RKCB has 5 as 0 or 3 keycards and 5 as 1 or 4 Keycards - so called 3014. But there is an 'improvement' on this where the 5 and 5 bids are reversed (1430). Why you may ask? The theory is that the RKCB bidder is more likely to be looking for slam after a 1 keycard response that after zero, so 5 gives more room to ask about the trump queen. This benefit is very marginal and only applies when 's are trumps. With 's as trumps there is always room for the queen ask whichever treatment you use and with a minor suit as trumps you are already past the point of no return (comitted to a small slam). Eddie Kantar is the acknowleded expert on RKCB and in his book 'Roman Keycard Blackwood' (4th edition) he actually says that one should use 1430 when the stronger hand bids RKCB and 3014 when it is the weaker hand asking! Too complex for me; and, anyway, all of the problems are solved if you use Kickback.  
  Bergen Raises or Inverted Bergen?   Bergen raises are really for the more advanced player. But there is a difference of opinion about the 3 and 3 bids. Playing traditional Bergen 3 is a limit raise and this leaves opener with no room to invite game if 's are trumps. So 'Inverted Bergen' was invented - this solves the problem but simply creates a new one!  
  Better Minor or Short Club?   If you elect to play a 5-card major system then you will sometimes have to open a minor suit containing less than 4 cards (because you have no 5 card major). The most popular choice is to play 'better minor' whereby you open the longest (or best if equal length) minor. The 'short club' scheme allows a 1 opening with just two cards when exactly 4432 shape. Which is best? Assuming the hand is unsuitable for a 1NT opening I will always open 1 when equal length, 44 or 33, (open 1if 55 of course) and I prefer to play a short club as then a 1 opening always guarantees a 4+ card suit.  
  Bidding the opponent's suit   A cue bid of the opponent's suit may have many different meanings. The link covers the Western Cue Bid, Directional Asking Bid (DAB), a sound limit raise after an overcall, the Unassuming Cue Bid, the Jump Unassuming Cue Bid, Splinters, Michaels Cue Bids, Ghestem, Questem, the Jump Cue Bid Overcall and Stayman after partner's 1NT is overcalled.  
  Blackwood or Gerber   What 4NT and 4 mean in various sequences. This really is important and I suggest that you/your partner have a look at this and agree what you want to do.  
  4441 type shape hands   Which suit do you open with a 4441 type shape if you have no system bid to describe it in this point range? One popular 'rule' is the suit below the singleton. I believe this to be unsound and I will always open the lowest ranking suit. Don't believe me? Then check out the link and you'll see there's never a problem. And opening the lowest possible suit always makes partner's bidding easier.  
  Checkback Stayman, NMF or Crowhurst   A comparison between these mutually exclusive conventions after opener's NoTrump rebid.  
  Defence against 1NT   There is a multitude of choice and I certainly will not go into all the possibilities; the link discusses a dozen or so of the most widely used schemes. Cappelleti is probably one of the most popular but Multi Landy is very similar and an improvement upon it. I prefer to play Multi Landy but there is a lot of sense in playing DONT in the 4th seat together with Multi Landy in the direct seat. Using this combination the player in the direct seat may wish to convert a DONT double from partner in the 4th seat (showing a single-suited hand) into penalties. Bear in mind that a penatly double in the 4th seat is rare because the doubler is under the NoTrump opener and doubler may also get a poor lead from partner.  
  Defense to the Multi two diamonds   There are various defences to the Multi 2 around. In this link I give a good basic one.  
  Defense against weak twos   The defence to weak twos is pretty standard these days, with double for take-out. The link summarises overcaller's options and advancer's responses. There is also a brief discussion of Leaping Michaels.  
  Double !   I have written up a few pages on doubles in various situations; when they are take-out, penalty or whatever ...  
  Conventional Doubles   ... and I have also briefly written up a number of conventional doubles.  
  5-4 in the majors opposite partner's 1NT opening   Holding a game-going hand with 5 cards in one major and four in the other, there are various options for the bidding. Some will transfer into the 5-carder and then bid the 4- carder, but that really is best reserved for 5-5's. The most popular method is to bid Stayman and then jump over a 2 response (jump to 3 of your 5 card suit - or 3 of your 4 card suit if you play Smolen). This 'works' but is not really satisfactory as there is no way to show invitational hands. This has all been solved by Quest transfers.  
  5-5 in the majors opposite partner's 1NT opening   Now Quest transfers have solved all of the 5-4 situations, but what about 5-5's. We need to be able to distinguish between weak, invitational and game forcing without using the same sequence that shows a 5-4. Quite a task. See section 3.1.4 of the No Trump bidding book.  
  Is it forcing?   A look at various bids; reverses, jump rebids etc. to discuss if they are forcing or not. Some are forcing in Standard American but not in Acol and vica-versa.  
  Italian Cue Bids   The general style of cue bidding is to bid first round controls before second round controls. The link explains the advantages/disadvantages of bidding either a first or second round control (whichever is cheaper) as played by many Italian bridge experts.  
    A comparison between the weak jump shift and the strong jump shift.  
    Traditionally one opens 2 followed by a 3NT rebid (or else open 3NT) with this huge hand type. However, this really is an extreemly poor treatment as responder does not know what to do when he is virtually bust (often the case) with (a) a 4 card major (Stayman 4 or pass?) or with (b) a five card major (transfer or pass?). Deciding to bid may lead to an eventual 4NT contract going one down. This link discusses various options for solving the problem.  
Playing Tricks and Losers
  Are these two the opposite of each other? No! And it also depends upon how you count your losers! Consider this hand KQJ10xxx Kxx Qxx -. It has 6½ Playing Tricks, but how many losers? Commonsense says 6 or 7 but the rather quaint English Losing Trick Count evaluates the hand as 5 losers.  
    This link takes a look at splinters, Jacoby 2NT, Key Card Swiss and the Delayed Game Raise. It explains when which one should be used (and when another approach is best). In particular it explains why Jacoby 2NT and (Key Card) Swiss are not mutually exclusive and should both be working together in you armoury. The quaint Delayed Game Raise should really only be used with hand with just three card trump support. The direct raise (i.e. 1 - 4or 1 - 4) is, of course, weak and pre-emptive.  
  Responding to 2NT   When partner opens 2NT there is little room to investigate major suit (4-4 or 5-3) below game level. I give a few schemes in this link.  
    A brief discussion of defensive signals, count, attitude etc. There are numerous schemes but in the Pattaya bridge club I encourage all non-regular partnerships to play Lavinthal (McKenny). Another good system is to play Distributional Discards - you discard from a suit that you don't like and a high card shows an even number of cards in that suit and a low card shows an odd number. As for attitude, about 50% play standard (HELD - High Encourage, Low Discourage) and 50% play upside-down attitude (low to encourage). My personal preference is the latter, which is more common in Europe than America but it's really up to individual partnerships.  
  Two Diamonds Opening   A comparison between various options for your two diamonds opening. Weak, Strong, Flannery, Multi, Roman, Mini-Roman or Benjamin - take your pick.  
  Two Over One   Two-over-one (usually denoted by 2/1 on this site). The link briefly describes the differences between Standard American and 2/1.  
  The 2 (and 2NT) response to 1NT   When you use 2 as a transfer to 2, then 2 bid is spare. This article discusses various options for the 2 (and 2NT) response to partner's 1NT opening  
  Two Suited Overcalls   The most common approach is to use the combination of the Unusual No Trump (UNT) together with Michaels Cue Bids. However, that is not totally satisfactory as not all two-suited combinations are covered (spades and the other minor over a minor suit opener) and numerous Michaels bids are ambiguous for the minor suit. Ghestem solves these problems but has it's own problems. The 'best' solution is Questem; check out the link to the left.  
    When your partner's 2♣ Stayman bid is doubled then you have two extra bids available (pass and redouble). This link gives a couple of good treatments for the use of these bids.  
  When your 1NT opening gets overcalled or doubled   This is not so much a comparison of conventions, but a suggested treatment. Systems on, systems off, Lebensohl, stolen bids? This link tells you when to play systems on and when to play Lebensohl. Also, it explaind when you should double conventional overcalls (and the answer is not 'stolen bid'!).  
  bridge conventions      
Section 4

Bridge bidding convention books

      A selection of convention books available from  
For a greater selection of bridge conventions books, refer to the link.
  bridge conventions      
Section 5

Convention pages from other sites

  www site   A brief description of the conventions section of the site  
  bridge bissing conventions  
    Contains a number of conventions essential to the beginner/improver  
    Ron Klinger's site contains a wealth of bridge information and tips.  
    Bridge buff site, contains loads of conventions.  
    The excellent convention section from Bridge Guys.  
    The convention section from Dick Olsen's site.  
    A good site for looking up conventions, but the explanations are somewhat brief.  
  All the Conventions   'All of the bridge conventions you could ever want'.  
  gbaclayton   Loads of conventions.  
  The free preview of the e-book "Simplicity Bridge - A Simple approach to bidding and play" by Chris Hasney contains a number of conventions. It's a 165 page book and may take a while to download.  
      There are, of course, loads more. Happy surfing!  
  Not found the convention? Then search the web: -
  For a selection of bridge convention books, click the link.  
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  This list of links to no-frame pages is here for the benefit of search engines/directories; their robots are not that keen on frames technology . Human visitors can access all of the relevant information via the links in the page. If the topic you wish to see is not on this bridge conventions page, then it may appear on the Bridge Abbreviations or the general bridge topics pages. If you wish to have a bridge convention written up on this page, then send me an e-mail.  
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