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On this page I lay out what I consider the basic conventions that I believe everyone playing two over one game forcing should play. (If you have been playing Standard American instead, I strongly urge you to switch; two over one is easier, not harder, and it is a more effective system.)

What I lay out here is perfectly playable and I would happily use it with anyone who is new to the game or who is in, say, his or her first year or so. Many newer players place too much emphasis on conventions instead of where it belongs, which early in a bridge career is on card play (declaring and defense) and bidding judgment. Still, once you’re comfortable with what’s on this card you will probably want to start adding stuff from the intermediate card, in part because some of it really is useful and in part because your favorite partner may want to do so. (Partnership harmony is more important than any convention.)

Here is an image of an ACBL convention card filled out with the conventions I’m recommending for a basic card (which I put together on the Bridge Winners forum1; you can view the card here), but please, be sure to scroll down and read my explanations before using anything on here.

Brief explanations, section by section beginning on the front of the card (i.e., in the upper right), of what I recommend playing:


NAMES

Write your name, and your partner’s, on this line. Put in your and your partner’s ACBL numbers too:  you won’t ever have to worry about memorizing your own, and it’s nice to have your partner’s number handy too.


GENERAL APPROACH

2 over 1 (or write it Two over One, or 2/1) Game Force. As I said above, two over one is a strong system — it’s good enough for about half of those who win national championships in ACBL competition so you know it works — but more importantly, it is easy to learn (easier than standard American).

The only boxes you’ll need to check here are the Two over One Game Forcing box and the one indicating that your forcing opening is 2♣.


NOTRUMP OPENING BIDS

It’s possible to do a ton in this section but there’s no particular reason to; the basics listed here are good enough most of the time… but do understand that now and then you’ll run into a responding hand that you just won’t have a good bid for and will have to fudge a bit, or guess.

1NT Range: 15 to 17. (There’s a second line in case your range varies by position or vulnerability, but you don’t have to worry about that.) It’s printed in blue, meaning that in ACBL play you announce the range when partner opens 1NT. (Say “fifteen to seventeen” while waving the alert card or tapping the alert flag.)

Check the 5-card Major Common box. With a 5-3-3-22 hand of the right high card strength for a 1 notrump opening, I recommend you open 1NT even when your five card suit is a major. (With any 5-4-2-2 shape that includes a five card major it’s usually best to open one of the major.)

Systems on after: double and 2♣. This means that responder’s first bid is unchanged if her right hand opponent doubles or overcalls 2♣ (regardless what either call shows). After any other interference, most of responder’s bids are natural, except that texas transfers (see below) are still on if they’re jump bids, and cuebids are (game forcing) stayman. Double of an overcall other than 2♣ is what it sounds like: penalty, which you should be happy to use when you have a few trumps and a few points.

Check the 2♦ Transfer to ♥ and 2♥ Transfer to ♠ boxes. This is a jacoby transfer.3 Notice that it is printed in blue, indicating that in ACBL play the partner of the player who makes the bid announces its meaning rather than saying “alert”. (the rules used to be that the announcement was the word “transfer”, but as of January 1, 2021 we announce the suit transferred to, thus we say “hearts” or “spades”.

2NT (response to 1NT): natural and invitational, meaning 8 or 9 high card points and usually no five-card or longer major; a long minor is possible.

3 of any suit: Natural and game forcing. You’ll very rarely use these bids with minors, and probably never with majors, but we’re keeping the card simple for now.

Check the 4♦, 4♥ Transfer boxes. These are texas transfers, which are used when responder knows she4 wants to play game, or slam, in her suit no matter what.

You don’t need to do anything else over 1NT. Notice that a couple bids aren’t used at all, but that’s fine. One bid is used but isn’t listed in this section: an immediate 4♣ response to 1NT is gerber, which is listed under slam conventions.

2NT: Use a range of 20-21. Check the Jacoby and Texas boxes, for transfers at the three and four level respectively. You should probably use puppet stayman if you know it but it’s not necessary so I didn’t check it on this card. Don’t worry about anything else here.

By the way, you should use exactly these same conventions after opener opens 2♣ (artificial and strong) and rebids 2NT, showing a balanced hand too strong to have opened 2NT. But note carefully that when opener opens one of a suit and then rebids 2NT, the notrump systems do not apply.


MAJOR OPENING

Expected Minimum Length: 5, except that 4 by a third seat opener is OK. (If you’re not comfortable doing that yet, don’t worry about it.)

Double Raise: Invitational (i.e., in the auctions 1 – 3 and 1 – 3♠, responder shows four card support and about 10-12 support points.)

After Overcall: Weak (e.g., in 1 (1) – 3, responder’s jump raise shows four card support but a weak hand, invitational hands cuebid the overcaller’s suit (here, a bid of 2). Note that this is normal so it’s not alerted.

Conventional Raise: 2NT and Splinter. 2NT is the jacoby 2NT, a conventional raise showing four or more card support for opener’s major and game forcing strength; responses to it are conventional (and alerted). Splinter bids are double jump shifts (i.e., to 3 or the 4 level) into a new suit; they promise game forcing strength, four card support for partner’s suit, and a singleton or void in the suit bid. Note that each of these raises is printed in red on the card, indicating that partner needs to alert when the bid is made (by saying “alert” and waving the alert card or tapping the alert flag card; say nothing else unless you are asked for an explanation).

1NT Forcing. A necessary part of the two over one system. Announce “forcing”.

Reverse Drury. Strong (invitational or nearly so) raises by a passed hand are shown with a conventional 2♣ response; in the “reverse” version, which is now much more common the original, opener rebids his suit with a minimum and therefore no interest in game, and does something else otherwise. I like to play that drury applies after RHO’s double, but not after an overcall; opinions differ on this one so check with your partner.

Help suit game try: You don’t really have to write this in but it’s important to know what it means. After a simple raise (to the two level) of opener’s major suit, a new suit by opener shows “stuff” (honor strength, but not a solid holding) in the suit bid; responder is to evaluate her hand for game purposes in light of the new information. Generally, holding a high honor in the “help” suit is good and other holdings are bad. These bids don’t have to be alerted because they show length or strength in the suit bid — in other words, they’re natural and the meaning isn’t unusual.


MINOR OPENING

Expected Minimum Length: 3 (for each minor).

Double Raise: Weak. This is part of “inverted minors”, which I suggest you learn. Note that raising partner’s minor to the three level requires a lot of them — at least five. This raise is alerted.

After Overcall: Weak. Double raises are still weak after RHO overcalls (or doubles, though that’s not listed on this part of the card). Not alerted; weak jumps in competition are expected.

Forcing Raise: Single Raise. Part of inverted minors. Alertable. Note that forcing does not necessarily imply game forcing and I prefer to play that after this start the auction can stop in 2NT or three of the minor, but many people play that it’s game forcing, period, and that’s OK too.

Frequently bypass 4+ . What this means is that after opener opens 1♣, responder will usually bid a four card (or longer) major suit (hearts first if she has both) even if she also has a diamond suit of four or more cards; in other words, up the line bidding doesn’t apply to diamonds. The exception is that when responder has enough strength to force to game she bids her longest suit first even when it’s diamonds, and bids four card suits up the line. This is sometimes referred to as “walsh” style.

1NT/1♣: 8-10. Many people play that a one notrump response to a 1♣ opening shows anywhere from 6 to 10 high card points (and denies a four card major, which responder would bid instead of notrump), but I prefer to bid 1 with a very weak (6-7) hand even when it doesn’t have a long diamond suit, reserving an immediate 1NT for stronger (8-10) hands. This isn’t very important so if your partner doesn’t like it that’s fine, do 6-10.

2NT Forcing (13-15 or 18-19). Most players these days do something different here but I prefer that the immediate 2NT response to a minor be game forcing; invitational-strength balanced hands that don’t have a four card major begin with a single (forcing) raise of opener’s minor, planning to rebid 2NT. This is the main reason I prefer to play inverted minor raises as forcing but not necessarily all the way to game. If your favorite partner isn’t comfortable with this that’s OK, you can play it invitational (11-12) as many players do, but I do think the way listed here is better.

3NT: 16-17. If you play responder’s bid in the sequence 1m – 2NT as invitational then you’ll probably want to put 13-15 here; I don’t love this treatment because it takes away so much room so you can’t check on stoppers (I don’t enjoy watching the bad guys take the first five tricks against my 3NT contract when we could have made five of a minor instead), but most players are fine with it; your choice. Note that balanced responding hands with 18 or more points and no suit to bid need to do something else no matter which way you play: a forcing 2NT if you play that as forcing the way I suggest, an inverted minor suit raise if you don’t. In each case you’re planning to invite slam with your next bid.


TWO LEVEL OPENINGS

2♣: A 2♣ opening is artificial and strong (generally at least 22 HCP or nine very likely tricks, but you don’t have to define this carefully). A 2 response is waiting, meaning it doesn’t say much but in our case shows that responder has at least something — an ace, a king, or a couple of queens will do. A 2 response is artificial and negative (and is alerted; a 2 response is not), saying responder has basically nothing; if responder bids anything other than 2 then the partnership is forced to at least the game level. Other responses in suits show at least five cards and a good suit (at least two of the top three honors), responder should never bid notrump at her first call.

2, 2♦, 2♠: Natural and weak; usually a six card suit although five can be right in 3rd seat nonvulnerable; with a seven card suit, bid 3 instead. You can write down 3-10 HCP but this varies by vulnerability and position (second seat openers shouldn’t preempt as much, third seat should do so very frequently, and fourth seat never should). New suits by responder are forcing; 2NT asks about opener’s hand. It’s up to you whether the answer should show a high-card feature (an ace, king, or queen) in a side suit, or ogust responses (3♣ bad suit and weak hand, 3 good suit and weak hand, 3bad suit but strong [in the context of the opening preempt] hand, and 3 a good suit and a good hand; each of these rebids is alertable), as the two are about equally useful.


OTHER CONVENTIONAL CALLS

It’s fine to have nothing here, but there are a few conventions you really should add when you’re ready:

2-Way NMF (New Minor Forcing): A misnomer, this is more properly called 2-way checkback because often the minor isn’t new. Most 2/1 players play regular new minor forcing (not 2-way), but I prefer 2-way checkback because it’s far easier to learn and use and it gives up nothing important. But if you don’t know it yet, using regular NMF here is fine. Each version is alerted.

Weak Jump Shifts in Competition: When the opponents double or overcall, it’s common to want to preempt them and rare we need to have a delicate slam-going auction, so weak jump shifts work well here. Against silent opponents I prefer responder’s jump shift (i.e., a jump bid into a new suit) to be game forcing. Not alerted.

4th Suit Forcing to Game. A normal part of 2/1. Some play that’s it’s only a one round force, but this way is simpler and arguably better. Note that a passed hand cannot create a game force. Alerted.


Other side of the card…

SPECIAL DOUBLES

Negative Double through 4. This applies when our side opens with one of a suit, and LHO overcalls; the level referred to is opponent’s overcall. If LHO overcalls 4 or higher, double is penalty. Negative doubles show the unbid suits, more or less, with at least some emphasis on any unbid major.

Responsive Double through 4. Similar, but this time it’s for when our side has made an overcall and a takeout double; the level referred to is that of the bid right after our overcall or double. A responsive double shows either both majors (if neither has been bid) or both minors (if neither has been bid) and asks partner to choose.

Support Double through 2. Support doubles are optional and I might have left them off the basic card, but I do think they’re a good idea. They apply to auctions in which we open with one of a suit, responder bids one of a major suit (whether second hand has passed or doubled), and third hand overcalls; opener’s double shows exactly three-card support for the major and therefore a raise shows four. The level referred to is the level of the bid that we are doubling to show support. For example, after 1♣ (pass or double) – 1(2),5 a double would be a support double.

It’s possible to play support doubles after responder bids 1, but it’s fairly rare and I don’t recommend it.

Support Redouble: Applies in auctions in which a support double would, but this time fourth hand doubles (usually for takeout); redouble shows a three-card raise.


SIMPLE OVERCALL

Strength: ~7 to ~18 points (but it’s not really about high card points). This is a very wide range but in practice it works fine; methods that require intervenor (the player who either overcalls or doubles) to double with any 16 point or stronger hand get very tricky to use well in competition. Note that you should include something for shape here, so 17 or 18 high card points in a very distributional hand is too strong.

Note that to overcall our suit at the two level requires better than the minimum show here, at least ten points and a bit stronger than that if our suit isn’t very good.

New Suit Non-Forcing Constructive. A compromise between two imperfect extremes; a new suit (not a raise or a cuebid of opponents’ suit) by advancer (the partner of the overcaller or doubler) shows some values (“constructive” — think something like 7 or more, or a bit less with a good suit) but is not forcing (so advancer has to do something else with a good fit or a game force). This isn’t a great method but those that are clearly better are also pretty complicated, and this is how a majority of your potential partners will play.

Jump Raise Weak. As in most other competitive auctions, jump raises are weak, in part because shutting out the opponents is good and in part because strong raises can use a cuebid.


OPENING PREEMPTS

3/4 level openings light. This is pretty normal and notice it’s not well defined. When not vulnerable, almost any hand with a seven card suit will do for a three level opening, if it’s too weak to open at the one level. (It’s better to have no honors at all than a few in side suits and none in the long suit.) Some players “downgrade” seven card suits to weak two openings if the suit quality is bad but I recommend against that practice because it makes life hard for partner.


DIRECT CUEBID

Michaels (over minors and majors). Shows at least five cards in each of two suits: both majors, if the opening was in a minor; the unbid major and one of the minors, if the opening was in a major suit. Please don’t do it with only 5/4, as partner will often wind up making an unfortunate choice; of course, it’s fine to do it if you and partner have agreed on it (but I wouldn’t). The way I play it can show just about any strength, but some play that it’s either pretty weak or quite strong, not in between, and that’s OK too.

I mildly prefer other methods but this is fine and very common.


NOTRUMP OVERCALLS

Direct: 15 to 18 HCP, Systems on. Note that this is slightly stronger than our opening notrump range. A stopper in opponent’s suit is nice to have but not strictly required, but do have a balanced hand. “Systems on” means advancer (partner of the overcaller) bids exactly the same as he would if responding to an opening 1NT bid (except for allowing for the tiny strength difference), as if the other side hadn’t opened at all.

It’s not shown on the card but a 2NT overcall of an opponent’s weak two opening is pretty similar, showing about 16 to 19 high card points, a balanced hand, and this time definitely a stopper or two in opponent’s suit. Advancer uses the same system he would when responding to a 2NT opening (in other words, if you use puppet stayman then it applies here too, and so do jacoby and texas transfers).

Balancing: ~10 to ~15 HCP. This applies to auctions that begin with one of a suit by the bad guys, followed by two passes. It’s possible to play the range a little narrower, and when vulnerable I wouldn’t bid it with a ten count. You’ll usually have a balanced hand (or you’d be overcalling instead), but this time a stopper in opponent’s suit is not required. It’s common to play the same systems by advancer of a balancing notrump as you play by responder to a 1NT opening (i.e., “systems on”), although the issues are a little different and it’s also reasonable to play everything natural (i.e., “systems off”).

Jump to 2NT: 2 Lowest. The “unusual notrump” shows the two lowest suits that the opponents haven’t bid. Note that not all 2NT bids are unusual; it has to be an overcall (i.e., the opponents opened the bidding), it has to be a jump bid [there are some rare exceptions that you can ignore for now] and it applies only if partner hasn’t done anything but pass. In most circumstances you really should have five or more cards in each suit, but the strength can be nearly anything.


DEFENSE VERSUS NOTRUMP

There are dozens of things you can play here. Of course, natural (bid the suit you have) works, but methods that allow you to show two suits are much more useful.

I favor playing the same method in direct and balancing seat. I do prefer to use different methods against strong (16 HCP or more is possible) and weak (less than that) notrump openings, but given how few people play weak notrumps it’s OK to have only the strong method unless you’re playing tournament bridge. Here I’m recommending only very common methods.

Versus Strong (includes 16 HCP) Notrump: DONT

2♣ shows clubs and another suit; 2 shows diamonds and a major, 2 shows hearts and spades, 2 shows spades. With only one suit (other than spades), double. Three level and higher bids are natural and very shapely. Very good hands (with game potential) either bid game, or begin with 2NT. There’s no penalty double available but that’s usually OK against a strong notrump.

Versus Strong (less than 16 HCP) Notrump: Modified Cappelletti (again, this is optional)

Double is penalty (which is important against weak notrumps); 2♣ shows either diamonds only, or some major-minor two suiter; 2 shows both majors; 2 and 2 are each natural; 2NT shows minors. As against strong notrumps, higher-level interference is natural and requires a lot of shape. Notice the modification from cappelletti (also known as hamilton), switching the major suit bids so that we show hearts and spades immediately. Bidding 2 and 2 natural tends to work pretty well, particularly against inexperienced opponents (who won’t double much) and those playing what are called “stolen bid” doubles (because they can’t double you for penalty, which is why you shouldn’t play them).

After we double, if advancer decides to pull to a suit (which he usually should not do without either great playing strength or a truly terrible hand), his bids are natural. (Many people play their normal 1 notrump systems here — i.e., as if the doubler had opened 1NT — and that’s acceptable too.)


AFTER OPPONENT’S TAKEOUT DOUBLE

New suit forcing at the 1 level only. It’s normal and probably best to play that responder can escape to a new suit at the two level with a long suit and a weak hand, so we play such bids nonforcing.

2NT Response: limit+ after majors and minors. In other words, with a good hand and support for partner, we bid 2NT (artificial, alerted) rather than raise directly; this frees up jump raises to be weak, which is nice to have in competition. This treatment is often called either jordan or dormer. One implication of playing this way is that redoubling instead of raising or bidding 2NT suggests, but does not promise, that responder has no great fit for opener’s suit; note that the redouble shows about 10 or more points and asks opener to double (for penalties) anything the bad guys bid if possible, and usually to pass otherwise.

This treatment is optional, but nice to have. One way to remember it is that 2NT should almost never be natural in a competitive auction; this gets to be more and more true as we move toward the intermediate and advanced cards. Playing 2NT is rarely a great deal in competition, as usually it’s better either to play in a suit or to double the bad guys. (Of course, determining which one is best can be tricky…)


Versus Opening Preempts Double is Takeout through 4 (penalty above that). Note that “takeout” doubles are left in (passed for penalties) more and more often as the level gets higher.


SLAM CONVENTIONS

Gerber. Gerber is a bid of 4♣ that is used conventionally to ask for aces (not keycards — there’s no trump suit). While for some players, particularly those who’ve been playing since the 50s or earlier, a 4♣ bid is usually or always gerber, I don’t recommend that; instead, play that 4♣ is gerber only in certain very particular auctions which always involve partner having bid notrump:

  • If partner’s last bid was in notrump and notrump is a possible strain (i.e., the notrump bid was natural and we have not found a 4-4 or better major suit fit), and neither player has bid clubs naturally or otherwise shown that suit, then 4♣ is gerber.
  • If partner’s first bid was a natural (not unusual) notrump bid (including an overcall) and no suit fit has been found, then a jump to 4♣ is gerber unless there is a specific agreement that it is something else. (The specific agreement we’re worried about is usually a splinter bid.)

When 4♣ is not gerber it can be natural (usually part of a slam try), a splinter bid, a control bid, or certain other conventions once we start adding things on the intermediate and advanced cards.

By the way, neither Gerber nor any other ace-asking bid is alerted during the auction unless it occurs on the first round of the auction; starting with opener’s second bid, no bid of 3NT or more is alerted until after the auction is over.

1430 Keycard. The choice between 1430 (wherein a 5♣ answer to a 4NT keycard inquiry shows one or four keycards, a 5 bid 0 or 3) and 3014 (wherein these two answers are reversed so a club bid shows the lower total; this may seem more natural and is the original version) is incredibly close; it matters only in specific auctions in which hearts are trump, plus a very rare auction in which clubs are trump and 4NT is the keycard ask. Most of the time the choice is irrelevant. I listed 1430 here because it’s slightly better unless you’re doing some other stuff (which I add on the more advanced cards) and it’s more popular among serious players, but really it’s fine to do whatever your partner prefers.

Whichever you choose, the third step (5) shows two [or five!] keycards without the queen of the agreed trump suit, and 5 shows 2 or 5 with the queen).

Queen ask. The queen ask is part of keycard (1430 or 3014) but let’s make it explicit: After a keycard ask and an answer that doesn’t either show or deny the queen of trump (5♣ and 5 don’t while 5 and 5 do), the cheapest bid that is not a possible contract (in other words, it’s neither the agreed trump suit nor anything else that the bidder might want to sign off in if the trump suit has already been passed) asks for the queen of the agreed trump suit. In answering a queen ask, return to the trump suit at the cheapest level (which should be five unless something has gone wrong) without the queen, and do something else with it: either bid a side-suit king (the cheapest you can show) if you have one or bid six of the agreed suit if you have no side king.

A subtle addition: If you can tell from the bidding that the partnership definitely has at least ten cards in the agreed trump suit, then bid as if you have the queen even if you don’t. With a ten card fit you will lose a trick to the queen only if you’re very unlucky (about 5% of the time), so it’s reasonable to ignore that possibility in judging whether to bid slam.

Another addition that you don’t need to worry about unless you’re comfortable with it: If partner asks you for keycards, you answer, and partner then signs off in five of the agreed suit, then you can raise to 6 if three things are all true:

  • You have the higher number of keycards that is consistent with the answer you gave (for example, you answered 5♣ showing 1 or 4 and you have 4);
  • It’s possible that partner does not already know you have the higher number (consider as a  counterexample: you opened 2♣ and later showed 3 or 0 — partner will assume, correctly, that a 2♣ opener can’t have zero keycards); and
  • Partner didn’t bid five of the trump suit noticeably slowly.

The last point, that partner can’t have signed off slowly, isn’t part of the system but it’s true as a practical matter: When partner spends a long time thinking and then signs off short of slam, you have unauthorized information that he was thinking about going further. In practice the directors probably won’t give you the benefit if you bid on and it’s right (i.e., they’ll adjust the score to 5 making 6, assuming slam does make) even if you otherwise would have. You can argue that bidding on is obvious but that argument probably won’t be successful.

If you have all five keycards and for some reason partner is the one doing the asking, you should never pass an attempted signoff at the five level. What more could partner be looking for?

Specific king ask. After a 4NT keycard inquiry and any response, a bid of 5NT asks for kings (not counting the king of the trump suit, which we already counted as a keycard). The same applies if a second round inquiry was necessary to ask about the trump queen. Respond by bidding the cheapest king you can show below 6 of the trump suit. Notice that if hearts are trump you won’t be able to show the spade king, which is a weakness that we handle on more complex versions of the card; if a minor suit is trump this method works pretty badly, which is why we try not to use 4NT keycard in minor suit auctions at all. There are better ways, but for now this will do.

If you don’t have any side kings you can safely show, bid six of the agreed suit. Also, if you don’t have any showable kings but you know for sure that you have a source of tricks that should be enough for partner (who must be looking for a grand slam, else why ask for kings?), then you can bid the grand yourself. This is rare but it does happen when you have a solid source of several tricks, one you haven’t told partner about, in a suit that’s higher than the agreed trump suit.

If you are comfortable showing the number of side kings in response to 5NT, rather than specific kings, that’s fine too; specific kings is only a little bit better.


OPENING LEADS

Versus Suits: Standard honor leads (i.e., top of a sequence, including an internal sequence). Ace from Ace-king (which is standard these days even if the card implies otherwise); playing the king first would imply a doubleton or something else quite odd.

Fourth best from length (when you don’t have a sequence to lead). Low from three, whether you have an honor or not. (“Top of nothing” is playable but I prefer this method; leading the middle card is a poor method.) Top of a doubleton (except ace-king).

Versus Notrump: About the same as versus suits, with a few exceptions:

Honor sequences now require three cards (possibly with a single card missing, as in KQT versus just KQx), and lead the king, not the ace, from AK combinations (which should be AKJ or better except from AK plus exactly one small card). As for spot cards, lead top of nothing if you’ve chosen to lead from three small cards; rarely lead a doubleton unless partner bid the suit but if you do, lead high. It’s also OK to lead the second-highest card (or the highest, if you’re sure it won’t be needed to take a trick) when you’ve chosen to lead from exactly four cards without any honors (though usually you should lead a different suit). Otherwise your spot card leads are fourth best.


DEFENSIVE CARDING

Upside-Down Count and Attitude (against suits and notrump). It is fine to play “standard” (high encourages, high for even count), but somewhat better to play “upside-down” (low encourages, low for even count). It’s also not hard to make the switch because you get tons of hands on which to practice — after all, you defend about half the hands you play and you should be signalling on most of those.

Playing both upside down attitude and standard count, as many people do, is playable but generally considered a poor method, and in my experience considerably harder to do well. Many players do play this way but I urge you to play both upside down count and attitude (UDCA) instead.

If you want to add anything here consider learning smith echo, which is used when defending against notrump contracts; I find this convention very valuable and fairly straightforward to learn. See the intermediate convention page for details.

Primary signal to partner’s leads: Attitude. Attitude is your first priority in all carding, whether following to partner’s lead or discarding. When attitude has been shown already or is obvious (for example, it’s declarer’s suit), the next priority is count. In certain specific circumstances suit preference is the signal but it’s fine not to worry about that for now.

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Notes

  1. Bridge Winners is a discussion board that you might consider joining (it’s free and they don’t spam you); some of the discussions get silly — it’s the internet, after all — but there’s also a lot of good information available there.
  2. Regarding suit lengths: I follow the method used by The Bridge World magazine (and others), wherein one uses hyphens to denote generic hand shapes and equal signs to show specific shapes. Thus, for example, 5-3-3-2 denotes any hand with a five card suit, two three card suits, and a doubleton, while 5=3=3=2 shows specifically five spades, three hearts, three diamonds, and three clubs.
  3. I don’t capitalize the names of bridge conventions even when they’re named after people, because I consider them to have passed into the language as common words. I understand that others disagree.
  4. Regarding pronouns: Resolved that there is no universally accepted treatment of personal pronouns in English when the person’s sex is unknown. What I’ve settled on for all my bridge writing is this: Opener and fourth seat is “he”, responder (opener’s partner) is “she”, intervenor (the player who first doubles or overcalls) is “she”, and advancer (the partner of the intervenor) is “he”. This works out to be darned close to 50/50 over the course of a typical writeup.
  5. Note that when I write out a competitive auction, the other side’s calls are shown in parentheses, our side’s calls without the parentheses.