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Opening Bids

  • 1♣ (“Strong Club”) shows any hand with 16+ HCP.  [ALERT: if asked, say “We play Precision.  It’s an artificial bid, usually showing 16+ HCP”.]
  • 1♦ shows 11-15 HCP and may have only two diamonds.  This is not an artificial bid.  It is a natural bid within the confines of the system.  [ANNOUNCE: “Could be a doubleton”.]
  • 1♥ or 1♠ shows 11-15 HCP and 5+ cards in the suit.
  • 1NT shows 13-15 HCP and balanced distribution [partner announces the range]: could also be played as 10-12, 11-13, 14-16, etc., depending on partnership agreement).
  • 2♣ shows 11-15 HCP with usually 6+ clubs, except 5+ good clubs in 3rd seat with a 4-card major.
  • 2♦ shows a 3-suited hand with 11-15 HCP and shortness in diamonds (0-1).  [ALERT: “Partner has a 3-suited hand short in diamonds, with 11-15 HCP.  The pattern could be 3-4 spades, 3-4 hearts, 0-1 diamonds and 4-5 clubs”.]
  • 2♥ and 2♠ are preemptive and show 5-10 HCP (disciplined or undisciplined according to partnership agreement).
  • 2NT shows 22-23 HCP and balanced distribution.
  • 3♣ and higher are preemptive showing 7-8 card suits.

Responses to 1♣ opening bid (strong, artificial and forcing)

Negative response and continuations by opener:

  • 1♦ = 0-7 HCP, artificial.  The only exceptions are 2♥ or 2♠ (see below) or an ace and a king (3 controls), both in long suits – or both in the same suit.  Continuations by opener:
    • 1♥, 1♠, 2♣ and 2♦ show 5-card suits (non-forcing – with a very strong hand, opener should not make the minimum non-forcing bid over 1♦).
    • 1NT = 16-19 HCP and balanced.
    • 2NT = 20-21 HCP and balanced (usually recommended even with a 5=-card major).
    • 3♣ and 3♦ show very strong unbalanced hands with long minor suits.
    • 3♥ and 3♠ describe a solid suit with an extremely powerful hand (requires partner to cuebid an ace or void).
    • 3NT = 24-26 HCP and balanced (usually recommended even with a 5=-card major).

Responder’s second bid:

  • 0-4 HCP, pass.
  • If opener  rebids 1♥ or 1♠, raise to the two-level with 4-5 support points and jump raise with 6-7 support points
  • With 5-7 HCP and no fit for partner’s suit, you may bid your own suit.  This promises 5 cards, except in the case of 1♠ after opener bids 1♥.  The longer the suit, the more you should consider bidding it, especially with a misfit in opener’s suit.
  • Avoiding bidding NT, which exposes the strong hand.
  • Splinter bid may be appropriate if responder’s hand improves dramatically after opener’s rebid reveals fit and distributional features.
  • After opener rebids 1NT, responder is captain and can transfer to any major of 5+ cards and pass with 0-6 HCP or invite to game with 7 HCP.  Stayman may be used cautiously with 6-7 HCP and a 4-card major if responder is comfortable passing any response.

Positive responses:

  • 1♥, 1♠, 2♣ and 2♦ = 8+ HCP and 5+ cards.  There are no restrictions on suit quality.
  • 1NT = 8-13 HCP and balanced (no suit longer than 4 cards, with the possible exception of 5-3-3-2 with a poor 5-card minor).
  • 2♥ or 2♠ = 4-6 HCP and a 6-card suit, with HCP concentrated in the long suit.
  • 2NT = 14+ HCP and balanced (no 5-card suit).
  • 3♣ = 1-4-4-4 or 4-4-4-1 (black singleton) lacking 4 controls (A=2, K=1), usually < 12 HCP.
  • 3♦ = 4-1-4-4 or 4-4-1-4 (red singleton) lacking 4 controls (A=2, K=1), usually < 12 HCP.
  • 3♠ = a solid 7-8 card suit, with or without side controls.  Suit will be something like AKQJxxx or AKQxxxxx, i.e. a suit that will play for no losers opposite a singleton.  The suit is unspecified, but usually the opener will be able to tell from looking at his hand what responder’s suit is.  This bid allows hand to be played by opener if the two hands belong in notrump at the 3 level or higher.
  • 3NT = specifically 4-4-4-1 with 4+ controls, usually 12+ HCP
  • 4♣ = specifically 4-4-1-4 with 4+ controls, usually 12+ HCP
  • 4♦ = specifically 4-1-4-4 with 4+ controls, usually 12+ HCP
  • No systematic responses to 1♣ higher than 4♦, except 4NT, which is ace-asking.

Continuations by opener after a positive response:

  • With balanced hands
    • Rebid at the appropriate level in notrump: 16-19: 1NT over 1♥ or 1♠, 2NT over 2♣ or 2♦; 20-21: 2NT over 1♥ or 1♠, 3NT over 2♣ or 2♦; 22-23: Opener would have initially bid 2NT; 24+: other methods.  These responses deny having a 5-card major but may include a  poor 5-card minor.  Even with 3-card support for responder’s suit, it is usually best to rebid notrump.  A direct non-jump raise of partner’s suit is trump-asking – usually reserved for when opener has slam interest.
    • With unbalanced hands


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